Jaguar’s special performance unit shines

MONTEREY, Calif. — Jaguar Land Rover is taking care of some unfinished business.

The Indian-owned automaker’s recently created Special Operations unit last week unveiled its Lightweight E-Type, an exact replica of an aluminum-body E-Type racecar first produced in 1963, with plans to complete the originally planned production run.

“The competitions department at Jaguar originally intended to produce 18 cars” in 1963, said John Edwards, head of Special Operations. “There were 18 VIN numbers allocated. Ultimately, we produced 12 cars.”

The remaining six will now be built based on the “Car Zero” prototype unveiled during the event last week in Pebble Beach, Calif., which Jaguar Land Rover North America President Joe Eberhardt called a “coming-out party, if you will, for Special Operations.”

Eberhardt: Memorable cars

The Special Operations arm will have “but one goal: to produce memorable cars,” Eberhardt said. “So for the next couple of years, you will see a wide array of very memorable cars coming from Special Operations.”

Along with the E-Type replica, Jaguar Land Rover showed two other vehicles developed by its Special Operations team: a 575-hp limited-edition version of the F-Type known as Project 7 — of which just 250 will be produced — and the Range Rover Sport SVR, the first of what Jaguar Land Rover says will be a series of high-performance vehicles bearing the SVR badge.

Project 7 was based on a single-seat concept car shown at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and at Pebble Beach last year. It grew out of a project developed quietly by Jaguar design chief Ian Callum’s team, as a way to bring elements of the D-Type racecar to the current F-Type. “It received a great reception” at Pebble, Callum said.

The production model is a two-seater, with a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, and capable of 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds. The name, Callum said, is a reference to the number of times Jaguar has won LeMans, and to accent that point, Davy Jones drove the car onto the platform during an unveiling at the Beach & Tennis Club.

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