1996 Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK8

1996 Jaguar XK

The Jaguar XK8 was an all new sports car from Jaguar, launched at the Geneva Motor Show on March 5th 1996. With an introductory price of £47,950 for the coupé and £56,850 for the convertible the car went on sale to the general public in October 1996.

Designed by the late Geoff Lawson (whose accomplishments also included the XJ220 and the XJ6 and XJ8 saloons), the XK8 was equipped with a naturally aspirated 4.0 litre, 290 hp aluminium V8 engine (the AJ-V8). The car was immediately considered a commercial success by enthusiasts and press alike.

Following on from the success of the XK8, two years later, on May 6 1998, Jaguar launched a similar looking but higher performance model known as the XKR. Little was done to the styling to differentiate the cars other than the addition of air vents on the bonnet and an air deflector on the boot. Equipped with a supercharged version of the XK8’s engine, the XKR produced 390 hp and 387 ft lbs torque bringing the 0-60 time down to 5.2 seconds from the XK8’s 6.4 seconds. Top speed remained limited to 155mph, though it now only took 34 seconds to reach that from standstill.

The XKR’s handling capabilities were much improved over the standard XK8 by including the optional handling pack and extras from the XK8. The price of the XKR had risen to £59,300 for the coupé and £66,300 for the convertible.

Special Editions


The first special edition was the 2001 XKR Silverstone, launched in April 2000. Jaguar announced a limited run of only 100 cars (50 coupes and 50 convertibles) for the first edition (Europe only), then 500 more available worldwide. It featured a Platinum paint finish, high-performance package (same engine than standard XKR, but improved transmission, suspension and brakes and 20" Silver BBS Detroit wheels) and custom interior. This model was launched to celebrate Jaguar’s return to Formula One racing and was named after the famous British racing track. The coupé cost £66,785 and the convertible £74,080.


The same year Jaguar’s Special Vehicle Operations announced their own -R version, a further enhanced XKR which was intended to cost £5,900 more than the traditional XKR. To meet the SVO team’s design brief, the car was built from the ground up using new, modified and custom-built parts. Not a single component escaped the team’s attention in the metamorphosis from stock XKR to the unique XKR-R, from the revised shape of the front bumper to the quad-outlet exhaust.

To enhance rigidity, the front suspension crossbeam was mounted to the underbody using aluminum bushings, rather than the standard rubber items and the whole car was strengthened by seam-welding the body. The steering rack was shared with the XK180 show vehicle and gives a fast 2.2 turns lock-to-lock. The custom Eibach springs with fully adjustable racing-type remote-reservoir shock absorbers are specific to this vehicle.

SVO began strengthening the rear by installing an eight-point roll-bar. The rear suspension is greatly revised from the stock XKR, and features the entire rear floor area from the S-Type saloon, along with the rear axle from an S-Type.

The XKR-R rides lower than a stock XK8 by 30 millimeters, and the purposeful look of the car is further accentuated by the fitting of Jaguar’s own 20-inch BBS-sourced R-Performance wheels. The wheels are filled with Jaguar’s Brembo-sourced R-Performance brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors. With the addition of specially produced front and rear bumpers, sculptured rocker panels and trunk lid spoiler, the car looks more purposeful and aggressive, yet retains that Jaguar elegance.

Behind the engine, SVO replaced the stock five-speed automatic transmission with a customized Tremec T-56 six-speed manual unit, similar to that found in the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette. The T56 is a stout unit, and paired with an AP Racing twin-plate clutch, is a suitable partner for the XKR-R’s power and torque.

In the end the XKR-R was never released to the public.

XKR 100

In 2001 Jaguar unveiled its latest creation in the guise of the XKR 100, a model to celebrate the centenary of Jaguar’s founder member, Sir William Lyons. This time the car came equipped with the “R” option package which included anthracite paintwork with charcoal leather, nine-spoke BBS alloy wheels, cross-drilled Brembo brakes and R Performance Recaro seats. Nice details include aluminium door handles, pedals, gear lever and instrument surround. DVD-based satellite navigation, reverse parking sensors and automatic wipers were all standard. A limited run of 500 models were released at £69,950 and £74,950 respectively.


In August 2003 the latest line of special Edition models was launched. The XKR 400, which was an upgraded performance version of the existing XKR, available in both coupé and convertible models. Special features included black, silver and grey paint, Alcantara seat inserts and black dashboard.

XKR Portfolio and XK Victory

For the North American market in 2004 Jaguar produced an XKR convertible known as XKR Portfolio and in 2005 an XK known as the Victory. The XK Victory was launched to celebrate the XKs success in the American Trans-Am race series.


In Europe the 4.2-S was unveiled at Geneva on 1st March 2005. This was the last XK to be rolled out that was based upon the original 1996 design. Features for the 4.2-S Four included new exterior and interior colours and two distinct veneer options for the instrument panel, polished door treadplates with chequered-flag emblems and embossed, leather-edged floor mats. The revised white Jaguar badge on the bonnet also feature chequered accents. New 19" Atlas wheels plus cross-drilled Brembo brake discs, red wheel badges and red brake calipers were also fitted. The 4.2-S had a carbonfibre-veneer dashboard, with elm veneer as a no-cost option and unique 20" split-rim BBS Perseus wheels.

On Friday May 27th 2005 the last of the existing XK’s rolled off the Brown’s Lane production line. In all, over 91,406 models were produced nearing the XK’s 10th Anniversary in 2006.

The XK8/R still remains one of the leading sports cars around representing a significant turning point in Jaguar’s history.

On September 26th 2005, the new XK was unveiled with a new aluminium styled body, interior and performance modifications.