This was really a race car for the road.

Name: Jaguar XJR-15
Debut: 1990
Specs: 6.0-litre V12, 450 bhp
Price: £800,000

A Forgotten Legend

When thinking about Jagaur supercars, the XJ220 likely comes to mind first, but there's also the XJR-15 dating from just a few years earlier. At the time, it was as close as possible to driving a Le Mans racer on the road, and with production totalling just 53 units, they were a rare sight even when new.

The XJR-15 has impressive provenance behind its creation. Tom Walkinshaw Racing worked with Jaguar in the 1980s and found a lot of success in endurance racing, including scoring overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1988 and 1990. The idea came to take these successful racing machines and create a road-going version. McLaren F1-designer Peter Stevens penned the look of the XJR-15's low-slung shape. It was also the first production car to be entirely carbon fibre for the body panels and monocoque, which resulted in a low weight of only about 1,060 kilograms.

Gallery: Jaguar XJR-15

Owing to its race car roots, the XJR-15's cabin was spartan. Jaguar left all of the carbon fibre exposed, but buyers could get options like leather upholstery and air conditioning. With no sound deadening, the noise could be deafening in the cabin, and Jag supplied an intercom system with headphones to make driving more manageable. 

The 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12 and suspension layout had close similarities to the unit Tom Walkinshaw Racing used when racing. The powerplant got the XJR-15 to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and to a top speed of 191 mph. Buyers had the choice between a non-synchronised six-speed manual transmission or synchromesh five-speed manual gearbox. 

Hearing Is Believing

Reading about the XJR-15 and seeing pictures of it are one thing, but hearing the noise from the 6.0-litre V12 explains why this rare Jag is so special. The video below highlights Tiff Needell behind the wheel of one on a 1991 episode of Top Gear

This second video comes from the perspective of someone who's lucky enough to own an XJR-15 and drive it on the street.