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The XJR-15 proudly holds the title as the world's first all carbon fibre road car. Developed by Jaguar’s motorsport partner, Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR), with the intention of redefining the supercar. Beneath the Peter Stevens penned body is little more than a repurposing of Jaguar's 1988 Le Mans effort, the winning XJR-9 and with small, but profitable demand showing, TWR founded a subsidiary company, JaguarSport.
Originally intending to build the car under the TWR name as the ‘9R’, Jaguar were understood to be none too pleased that their motorsport partner was building a road car. They must have been especially irate at the fact the XJ220 - which was being designed at the same time as the XJR-15 - made significant compromises compared to the concept car they presented 1988, notably in terms of composite construction and of course the loss of a V12 powertrain that Jaguar were adamant would be unfeasible for a production model. Walkinshaw may have circumvented many potential disputes by informing Jaguar that he was merely building a car to run in a one-make race series and they need not worry. He promptly devised the one make series for the car to compete in.
Of course, the introduction of the street legal XJR-15 coincided with that of the ‘JaguarSport Intercontinental Challenge’. Running alongside the Formula 1 calendar, the Intercontinental Challenge supported three rounds in 1991: Monaco, Silverstone, and Spa Francorchamps. The series would offer the winners of the first two rounds a Jaguar XJR-S 6.0 and the winner of the final round would take home $1,000,000!
Featuring an all-alloy, 6-litre, naturally aspirated V12 paired to its carbon fibre body, and carbon fibre tub which tipped the scales at just 1,050 kg. The engine utilised the Group C specification bottom end, complete with forged pistons, crankshaft and conrods, and top end most closely related to that of the TWR Group A XJS touring cars. 450 hp and 429lb ft of torque meant 0-60mph came round in just 3.3 seconds and the top speed was 190mph; with high gearing it would go on to well north of 200mph. In 1991, the XJR-15 cost £600,000, not including the 5-speed all-synchromesh gearbox of the 'street' version at a further £55,000. TWR’s compromises for road usability had come in the form of widening the cockpit by 150mm and raising the roof by 40mm over the race car!