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Jaguar’s retro racer concept revealed

Sky's no limit: The single-seat layout Jaguar uses in the Project 7 alludes to the legendary D-Type Le Mans racer of the 1950s.

Slinky single-seater Jaguar Project 7 revealed, hints at hi-po production F-Type

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Jaguar logo10 Jul 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

THIS is the one-off Jaguar Project 7, a sexy design study based on the F-Type convertible but channelling the legendary D-Type Le Mans racers of the 1960s.

Nominally, the slinky single-seat, all-aluminium racer has been created to wow the crowds at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it will be driven by chief engineer Mike Cross.

But the sky blue show-stopper is also a hot tip to preview Jaguar’s hardcore, SLK55 AMG-rivalling F-Type R, which is understood to be under development at its British base.

We know precious little about that forthcoming car, but we do know about Project 7. Under that snub bonnet is a version of the regular F-Type’s familiar 5.0-litre supercharged V8, pumping out 404kW and 680Nm (up 40kW and 55Nm on the regular version).

Matched to an eight-speed ‘Quickshift’ auto transmission, it’s enough to propel the track racer from 0-100km/h in 4.2 seconds on the way to an electronically limited 300km/h top speed.

The standalone Jag also gets a free-flow exhaust system with a ceramic finish, a 10mm lower ride height than the F-Type, and a unique spring and damper tune.

Development of Project 7 was led by global design director Ian Callum, who says the car has “the kind of racing-inspired form that designers dream about”.

“It has one purpose: to be driven fast and enjoyed. Jaguar sports cars are known for exceptional performance and clean design. Project 7 captures that spirit in its purest form.” Jaguar says Project 7 went from being an experimental sketch from designer Cesar Pieri to the track in just four months. Both digital and clay models were produced before the proper car.

The name acknowledges Jaguar's seven Le Mans victories between 1951 and 1990, and its blue paintwork is reminiscent of the victorious D-types of 1956-57.

The unique interior features a single composite seat with a racing harness just like the D-Type, a helmet holder and custom trim.

The seat and the insides of the doors are finished in a quilted racing-style diamond pattern. There are carbon-fibre inserts on the console and SportShift lever, the engine-start button is gloss black and the steering wheel is equipped with machined aluminium paddles.

Other design changes include a fairing behind the driver's head, bespoke carbon-fibre front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser, a lowered windshield and a restyled front bumper. It also has a cut-down windscreen just like its famous ancestor and a 14-degree rear racing spoiler.

Meantime, the new nose design incorporates revised air intakes and headlights with gloss black surrounds instead of chrome. The car sits on 20-inch forged-alloy wheels with carbon-fibre inserts.

Ahead of his hot lap at Goodwood this weekend, chief engineer Mike Cross said Project 7 “has given us a unique opportunity to go that little bit further”.

“It's visceral in every sense — its response, its sound and its sheer performance. I'm very much looking forward to driving it at Goodwood.”

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