We’re doing 130mph-plus in the new Jaguar F-Type Project 7 production car on the short main straight of the Navarra circuit near Pamplona in Spain. I’m not sure of the exact speed because there’s a threatening-looking right-hander a couple of seconds away and this isn’t the moment to start scanning speedos.
The wind is tearing at the top of my head, but the airflow around my actual bonce feels curiously orderly. My passenger, on the other hand, is hunkered down in his seat because for him a full-on tornado is blowing.
There’s just time to realise that the difference between our comfort levels is down to the single, D-Type-style aerodynamic hump behind my head, smoothing departing air. In these somewhat inappropriate circumstances, the words of the company’s Special Vehicle Operations boss, Paul Newsome, delivered an hour earlier, suddenly come back to me. “Project 7 is a bit of a selfish choice,” he said. Here’s proof.
Jaguar’s idea for a short-screen speedster concept came to life at Goodwood two years ago as a way of celebrating Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins and the achievements of the Ecurie Ecosse racing team responsible for two of them, and of showing how far the F-Type model could be pushed to make something harder edged.
The original was a single-seater and purely a concept, but the idea proved such a hit that the company decided to build a slightly more practical two-seat version in a limited run of 250 cars.
This was displayed at last year’s Goodwood and Pebble Beach affairs, numerous cars were sold at the events at about £130,000 a copy and the batch soon sold out, 80 cars going to British buyers and 50 to Germans. Everyone loved the Project 7’s combination of abbreviated screen, its new front bumper, many aero mods (carbonfibre splitter, blade-like side skirts, rear diffuser and deck-mounted rear wing) and its nose stripes and racing roundels.
Last week we got our hands on a production car for the first time, with Newsome along to explain its intricacies. “Because the car started as concept,” he said, “its looks were always going to be the main guide to its behaviour on the road.”
Lots of people ordered cars before they were built, and it was clear they saw them as low-mileage cars, typically somewhere between the fifth and 25th in their collections. The likelihood was that they’d use them either for short trips – Sunday morning blasts – or for special trips such as an annual run to Le Mans. It was never going to be a car for daily use; Jaguar now estimates many will only do 2000 to 3000 miles a year.