Jaguar has been synonymous with luxury British motoring for the best part of a century, so when they announced they would be bringing out a new grand tourer to replace the aging XJS in the mid-nineties, the public were on tenterhooks to see what they’d come up with. In 1996 the sleek and stylish XK8 was the result, initially with a 4 litre V8 engine producing 290 brake-horsepower. Two years later they brought out the supercharged version, the XKR, producing a tremendous 370bhp.
Production of the first generation XK8 and XKR spanned 10 years, between 1996 and 2006, with Jaguar refreshing the line-up in 2003 by fitting both cars with new 4.2 litre engines and upping the power to 300 and 400bhp respectively. The XK8 cost around £48,000 from new back in 1996, a fair amount cheaper than some of its rivals, which also offered a fantastic cheaper alternative to an Aston Martin.
The XK was the first car to be fully designed and launched by Jaguar since the Ford take-over of the eighties, and in the lead-up to its release there was much speculation about whether it would be an acceptable successor to the E-Type or just a Ford in disguise. Upon launch these same critics were fortuitously impressed with the E-Type-esque styling and improved reliability that Ford’s investment brought. As with any Jaguar, driver comfort was a top priority and enthusiasts weren’t let down with the XK. The interior delivered real wood surfaces, leather upholstery and plenty of techy toys to play with, and the extraordinarily easy ride allowed it to eat up the miles making it a fantastic Grand Tourer.
[caption id="attachment_186" align="aligncenter" width="300"] A very special version of the Jaguar XKR[/caption]
Along with the supercharged version, the XK came with a number of limited edition models to boot, much to the delight of Jaguar enthusiasts. In 2001 they released the XKR Silverstone to celebrate the company’s return to F1 and British racing fans’ passion for the circuit. Only 100 were ever made, half of which were convertibles, and all were finished in striking silver and given performance and styling upgrades. Less than a year later Jaguar released the XKR 100, again with a number of performance and styling related refinements. Within a very short space of time all 500 examples had been sold, and over the following years Jaguar produced several more limited edition versions of the XK.
So would we consider this big cat a worthy investment in 2016?
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