After several years' absence from the competition field, Jaguar returned to sports car racing in the form of this XKRS-GT. Jaguar's proud heritage of sports car competition started with the XK-120/140/150 named for their top speed capability, which then led to competition versions known as the C and D-Types, famous for their prowess and overall wins at the storied 24 hours of LeMans.
Initially based on the production XKRS, the chassis has been modified to add the required rollbar and chassis reinforcements to comply with the rules of the IMSA and ACO race regulating bodies. The initially bodywork was developed by Ian Callum and the Jaguar staff utilizing their Computational Fluid Dynamics tools and their aerodynamics department to optimize the shape. RSR Racing then translated it into a working race car body, sculpting clay models and creating molds for the lightweight carbon fiber body panels.
The engine in this car is a Jaguar AJ133 5.0L direct injection V8 producing approximately 550 horsepower at 7200 RPM. Power is transferred to the ground via a Hewland 6 speed transverse sequential transaxle.
There exists only two of these cars in the world, assembled and developed by the Gentilozzi family's RSR racing of East Lansing, MI. They competed in the 2010 24 hours of LeMans in the GT2 class, and have competed in the ALMS GT class against the C6R.
By the early 2000s, cars were evolving at an unprecedented pace. Every year manufacturers seemed to be eking out more power, more efficiency, and more performance, all backed up by more computers and more electronic driving aids. Emerging technologies were bundled into the automotive package, creating cars that could double as cell phones and MP3 players.
Yet at the dawn of this technological revolution, Jaguar was out on a tea break. That proud jungle cat, the producer of some of the world's finest and most advanced sports cars in the 1950s and 1960s, had grown lazy and set in its ways under foreign (read: Ford) control.
Ford was by no means incapable of running Jaguar well, and the American giant at least helped improve Jag's reputation for unreliability and poor quality control. The approach to running Jaguar was conservative, though, and aimed to keep a few traditionalists happy at the cost of potential new buyers. The advanced performance and styling that had once defined Jaguar had grown stale, leading to quaint caricatures of the brand's past legends. The XJ-series looked like the XJ-series always had—since 1968. The XK-series followed the controversially-styled XJS with a design that borrowed heavily from the original E-Type—of 1961. Jaguar had successfully established a model lineup that effectively looked 30 years behind the times.
That's not to say that Jaguar's cars weren't still beautiful—they were. But the design language had grown far too stale to attract new buyers, and, with dangerously low sales, change was needed to save the company from financial ruin.
Enter the 2005 Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept, Ian Callum's ingenious interpretation of what a modern Jaguar should be. This concept, with refreshingly few changes, formed the basis for the Jaguar XK that would be released in 2006 for the 2007 model year.
Though it retained enough design DNA to remain unmistakably Jag, the 2007 XK was a thoroughly modern car. Its design was many years ahead of the outgoing model's, styled by Callum with respect for Jaguar's past but eyes towards the brand's future. The Advanced Lightweight Coupe concept's name was well-founded, and its advanced and lightweight use of aluminum made it into the production XK. The production car was built on a remarkably rigid platform that used aluminum extrusions extensively to reduce weight and increase rigidity. The XK was designed from the beginning as a convertible (Ian Callum considered it easier to make a coupe of a convertible than the other way around), and that fact meant that the XK convertible not only looked as good as the coupe but was also impressively stiff.
The XK debuted with a 4.2L, 32-valve V8 that made 300hp and was coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The supercharged XKR version made 420hp. This was ample power for both cars, but, in an effort to keep up with the competition and avoid the problems witnessed at the outset of the millennium, Jaguar gave the XK and XKR brand new engines for 2010. With displacement increased to 5.0L, the new V8s now produce 385hp in naturally aspirated form and 510hp in supercharged guise.
The XK, now complemented by the impressive XF and brand-new XJ, helped to revitalize Jaguar's ageing image. It represents the sporty car in Jag's small, cohesive lineup, and is a thoroughly modern piece that has earned the right to call itself by those two famous letters that first established Jaguar as a builder of benchmark sports cars in 1948.Sources:
'2010 Jaguar XK / XKR Coupe and Convertible - Auto Shows.' Car and Driver Jan 2009: n. pag. Web. 15 Jul 2010. http://www.caranddriver.com/news/car/09q1/2010_jaguar_xk_xkr_coupe_and_convertible-auto_shows.
By Evan Acuña
MacKenzie, Angus. 'First Look: 200 Jaguar XK.' Motor Trend Oct 2005: n. pag. Web. 15 Jul 2010. http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/112_0510_2007_jaguar_xk/index.html.