Despite having the best-selling sports car of all time in the stable, Jaguar decided to replace the XJ-S and unveiled a worthy successor at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show. The handsome XK8 bore Jaguar’s classic styling signature, with the streamlined shape evoking past greats like the XK120, XK150, C-, D- and E-Types… even the XJ220 supercar.
The new XKs were available as convertibles and coupes. Although it was impossible to tell, they shared a platform with the Aston Martin DB7 as synergies generated by Ford’s ownership of both classic marques started to filter into the model ranges.
The XK8 had a normally aspirated 4 litre V8 engine giving 290 bhp whilst the identical XKR had a turbocharged version of Jaguar’s new motor that delivered an impressive 370 bhp. Interiors were luxurious, with the mix of leather and burr walnut that turned these powerful sports cars into prestigious grand tourers.
The XK8/XKR series remained in production for a decade, with no more than a few modest styling changes. A number of special edition XKRs were introduced along the way. The XKR Silverstone, limited to 600 cars, was intended to celebrate Jaguar’s return to Formula 1 racing in 2001. It was a standard car with a silver paint finish, improved running gear, larger wheels and a custom interior.
The XKR 100 was also produced in 2001 to mark the centenary of Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons’ birth — 500 coupes and 500 convertibles were built. The XKR Portfolio convertible of 2004 was for America only, with 200 cars in blue and 200 in red. The last XK based on the original design was the XKR 4.2 S, a debutant in 2005 that featured an enlarged 4.2 litre V8 engine. The XK8 and XKR were discontinued in 2006.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1996 (until 2006)
3,996 cc V8
The XK8 had an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The XK series continued from 2007 with all-new Jaguar XK, XK 4.2 and XKR models — visual kinship with the contemporary Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish coupes is explained by the fact they were all designed by Ian Callum, though interestingly the XKs were first created as convertibles from which the coupes derived rather than vice versa.