Under the management of British Leyland Motors, and more recently as an independent company, Jaguar has been producing luxury sedans for years. No one ever could have predicted the modern-day Reformation today that is Jaguar after Ford acquired the struggling car company. Jaguar began as a custom coachbuilder in the 1920s and since then has been justly famous for the style of its vehicles ever since.
A prime example of international harmony, the XK8 was 60% produced in the United Kingdom. The transmission was built in Germany, Japan supplied the air conditioning, the tires are Italian, the lighting is French and the ABS are compliments of the U.S. The XJ8 shared the floorplan, the burled walnut and the Connolly leather with the XJS. Featuring a flowing aerodynamic style, the XJ8 had a classic long-hood, short-deck proportions directly to the E-Type of the 1960s as well as the D-Type an XKSS that inspired it. Today the XK8 is still distinctively unique.
The interior of the XK8 is a fine contemporary interpretation of the British tradition, with all the tactile and visual cues of classic English luxury. The instrument panel features a full-width book matched burled walnut veneer, much of the same around the ‘J-gate' shifter in the console and the window lifts on the doors. Hand-cut, hand-stitched leather was featured on the power-adjustable front seats. The Jaguar XK8 also featured front and front side head and chest airbags, stability and traction control systems, powerful four-wheel vented antilock disc brakes.
Introduced in Europe in the late 1996 model year, the Jaguar XK8 is today considered a model classic. Featuring only minor changes up until 2005, the XJ8 has remained the unique choice in the premium sports car class. Creating quite an impact when first introduced, the XK8 was the first new Jaguar to be developed under Ford Ownership. The car took the place of both the venerable XK inline six with roots in the late 1940s, and the V12 developed in the 1970s. Though some features were shared with the XJS, the XJ8 had a considerably lighter and stiffer structure than the XJS chassis. In the front double wishbones were used, and driveshafts served as the top locations links in the rear.
It was the exterior of the XK8 though that made it the fastest-selling sports vehicle in Jaguar history. Paying homage to the Jaguar design past, the new XK8 blended elements brilliantly.
The first 8-cylinder vehicle that was produced by Jaguar, the XK8 introduced the new Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, the fourth all-new engine in Jaguar's history. Available in either two very distinctive styles, the curvaceous coupe or convertible forms with either a supercharged 390hp or naturally aspirated 290hp engine. The Convertible featured a power-operated top that lower, raises and locks into place with just the push of a button and a center-mounted brake light over the trunk.
The Convertible outsold the coupe considerably with four out of five XK8s sold in the U.S. being a convertible model.
The XKR was the supercharged variant. Heralding a change in direction for the company, the XK8 was instrumental in the creation of the resulting S-Type and X-Type.
These models introduced in 1997 were the first-generation XK series that shared its platform with the Aston Martin DB7. Though the platform has been revised extensively, both cars are derived from the Jaguar XJS.
Unfortunately both the XK8 and XKR were given a lower top speed than the vehicle that they replaced due to a computer governor that limited them to a top speed of 155mph. The AJ-V8 has been upgraded and increased in capacity from 4.0 liters to 4.2. Arriving standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, both the XK8 and XKR featured 19 and 20 inch wheels available for additional cost.
Both models featured Jaguar's Adaptive Cruise Control, alone with all-leather interior, side airbags and burl walnut trim. . Offered as optional on the XK8, self-leveling xenon headlamps and a navigation system came standard on the XKR.
To mark important events in Jaguar's history, several limited-edition XKR coupes and convertibles have been produced. Only 250 models of the 2001 XKR Silverstone were released in North America, and featured a high performance package, custom interior, and a Platinum paint finish. The following year, the XKR 100 was produced at a production rate of 270 convertibles and 30 coupes sold in North America. In 2004, the XKR Portfolio was introduced. Only two hundreds units were released in North America. The XKR Portfolio featured 20-inch alloy wheels and custom color interior.
2005 Jaguar XK8 models featured new, larger oval air intake along with a redesigned grille. To lower the car a slightly, the front apron and side rocker panels have been extended downwards.
The new 2005 XK8 also featured a driver-settable automatic speed limiter as standard safety equipment. Never meant to be a track-ready sports vehicle in the manner of the E-Type, the XK8 is much larger and heavier. Designed for high average speed on the open road, the XK8 is was build for comfort. The Jaguar XK8 was created with a combination of exquisite style, smooth power and luxury comfort.By Jessica Donaldson