Jaguar would not be much of a car company if it didn’t have a two-door coupe, or at least it wouldn’t be Jaguar, and that’s exactly this situation that Jaguar and Ford executives were faced with as the XJS was slowly getting older, and showing it. After shelving the ‘F-Type’ project, they started anew with the car that would become the 1996 Jaguar XJ8. Designed to appeal to an American public, as demonstrated by the monster trunk (enough to fit two golf bags!) the XK8 remained very much a Jaguar. Design, it was impeccable, richly appointed and a hit on all fronts, and mechanically… well, it was exceptional, from the excellent, over-designed chassis to the powerful V8 and the silky smooth transmission.
The original 1996 XK8 was powered a 290 horsepower, 32-valve, 4-liter V8, which in its supercharged version produced 363 horsepower. This extra-powerful version only became available in 1998, known as the XKR. Both models could reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour, artificially limited, and the XKR could accelerate to 60 mph in a hair over 5 seconds, enough to blow the doors off just about anything.
The 1996 Jaguar XK8 was a singularly well-designed car, able to handle much, much more power than it was designed with, and with timeless lines to ensure model longevity.