To mark the 50th anniversary of the XK 120 sports car, Jaguar's XK 180 concept was created in just 10 months to indicate the capabilities of the company's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO). Based on a shortened version of the supercharged XKR convertible, the XK 180 has aluminum bodywork (as did the original XK 120) with a strong hint of 1950s' Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-type about it.
The car's engine has been up-rated from 227 kW (304 hp) to 337 kW (452 hp), with brakes, wheels, and suspension upgraded to cope with the added performance potential. Supercharger speed has been increased by 10% and changes made to the V8 engine's intercooler, induction, and exhaust systems.
Interesting elements of the car include fingertip sequential gear selection by steering-wheel-mounted controls developed by Jaguar. The rear light cluster (running lights, brake lights, turn indicators) was specially developed for the car by Valeo and incorporates 24 light-emitting diodes. The car is 345 mm (13.6 in.) shorter, and its wheelbase is 125 mm (4.92 in.) less than the XKR.
The car has racing seats with full harness but they are trimmed in fine Connolly leather. The dashboard is finished in machine-turned aluminum with switches in the style of 1950s' Le Mans Jaguars. It took four weeks to design the interior, and two weeks to create the molds used to form the necessary panels. The body panels were formed by hand and assembled by Abbey Panels of Coventry, which was responsible for the D-type bodies amongst other Jaguars.
The car's suspension is based on that of the XKR, with racing-style aluminum shock absorbers incorporating coil spring/damper units. A Brembo braking system features four-pot calipers with 355 x 32 mm (14.0 x 1.3 in.) cross-drilled, ventilated, front-disc brakes with a similar system measuring 315 x 28 mm (12.4 x 1.1 in.) at the rear. The wheels are very large and fitted with Pirelli tires: 255/35ZR20 P Zero Direzionale at the front, 285/30ZR20 P Zero Asimmetrico at the rear.
На Парижском автосалоне 1998 года был показан концептуальный двухместный родстер XK180, созданный на базе Jaguar XKR меньше, чем за год. Мощность восьмицилиндрового двигателя - 456 л.с. Кузовные панели изготовлены из алюминия, что позволило снизить массу автомобиля ло 1700 кг.