Then there's the carbonfibre front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser. Each of these throws up issues. Attaching the front splitter meant getting the aero team involved to decide what angle the rear wing should be, because the carbonfibre at the front upsets the front-to-rear lift balance. Likewise, the rear diffuser, while an aesthetic rather than aero touch, necessitates finishing the exhausts with a ceramic coating to stop the diffuser from burning.
The windscreen had to be cut down but, because this is a working concept, rollover strength had to be retained. And following all that, because this is a working car, the chassis engineers wanted a week on the test track at Gaydon to set up the suspension. And the graphics on those tyres? Turns out no one in the UK can do them. So the team, by hand, scrubbed off the mouldings from the sidewalls, made up the vinyl templates and did it themselves. That takes a while.
I’m adding up the time in my head as Whelan goes through it and, even accounting for the number of people wanting to work on it – in the out-of-hours kind of way that this project was completed – I’m making more than four months. Busy work.
And all to send Project 7 up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – five runs over three days, of no more than a minute each, creating a stir that, I think it’s fair to say, has overwhelmed not just the Jaguar design team but everyone else within the company, too.
From hill to track
Hence, they’ve asked us to come to MIRA proving ground to drive it. So I do. And it’s raining, because it’s MIRA and it’s July and it does that sort of thing here all the time. Still, it’s the only chance we’ve got, because two days later Project 7 will be off to another venue. And Whelan is showing me around the car while blokes fiddle with a cover in an effort to keep the rain away from the cabin.
Mechanically, Whelan explains, Project 7 is pretty much an F-type in V8 S form. Or at least, it was when they started, and if mechanical things on it are not standard F-type, they’re pinched elsewhere from the Jaguar line-up.
Most notable among those are that, in place of the V8 S’s 489bhp supercharged 5.0-litre engine, into Project 7’s nose has been dropped an engine with the calibration for the Jaguar XKR-S, which, happily, happens to make 542bhp. Weight is almost unchanged, save for it being 20kg lighter at the rear, a loss accounted for by the absence of a roof mechanism.
Twenty kilos is not a great deal on a car that tipped our scales at 1810kg when we road tested it, but the set-up work took it into consideration all the same. The fine-tuning ensured that, when Jaguar’s chief engineer for vehicle integrity, Mike Cross, stuck it up the hill at Goodwood, it gave him the handling and just the amount of oversteer he liked. No more, no less.
I say ‘no more’. He likes quite a lot.
The suspension has been lowered by 10mm over the standard F-type’s (and runs on the optional 20-inch ‘Blade’ alloy wheels). But the more significant alteration to the way Project 7 feels, the engineers say, is that the seating position is a faintly staggering 50mm lower than that of the regular F-type, thanks to the fitment of a non-adjustable (unless you get the spanners out) bucket.
It’s trimmed similarly to an F-type, although there’s a spot of extra quilting – as there is on the door cards – whose pattern, like the new mesh grilles at the front, mimics the oblong shape of the Jaguar Heritage logo. Which is a sweet touch. And time consuming, presumably.