A striking new supercar which is staking a claim to be the spiritual successor of the legendary E-Type Jaguar is set to be built in Coventry.
The Lyonheart K is the brainchild of automotive designer Robert Palm, whose Swiss firm Classic Factory has created a modern interpretation of the classic Jaguar.
Although final contracts have yet to be signed, Mr Palm, who designed the car in collaboration with Bo Zolland, has confirmed it will be built by Coventry automotive specialist CPP in the city where the original model came off the production line from the 1960s onwards.
The roots of the Lyonheart K, which will cost around £419,000 (plus taxes), lie in Classic Factory’s ‘Growler’ concept car unveiled last year.
The response to the Growler was so positive Mr Palm pressed ahead with plans to put a vehicle into production.
Just 50 Lyonheart Ks will be produced and orders are now being taken with an 18-month waiting time for would-be owners.
Even its name is a homage to the E-Type’s designer Sir William Lyons.
“We have had so many messages from all over the world from collectors and Jaguar fans to do it otherwise we wouldn’t have done it,” said Mr Palm, who confessed that as an E-Type enthusiast he has owned several models himself.
“It is very much inspired by the original,” he added. “You can see that immediately. That is what we wanted but on the other hand we wanted it to be completely different.
“If you want to make a comparison you can compare it to the old Mini and the new Mini – that is what we wanted to do with our car.
“It is a modern car but it has got the things the old car had such as the wood, the leather – all the things you get from a collector’s car but without the downsides.”
And although there is no official tie-up with Jaguar, Mr Palm said he was in discussions with the company about working together, even hinting that a luxury brand along the lines of Bentley or Rolls Royce might one day come to fruition.
“Jaguar are observing and very curious to see where we are going,” he said. “We haven’t signed an agreement with them yet so I can’t say anything, but I can’t deny we have had talks with Jaguar for six months. They see it as positive as well.
“They don’t have a luxury brand like BMW does with Rolls Royce and Volkswagen with Bentley. Lyonheart will be at a Bentley and Rolls Royce level. The whole car will have the same quality materials.”
The car itself, which will use lightweight materials in the shape of an aluminium chassis and carbon fibre body panels, will be able to reach 62mph in less than four seconds and have an electronically limited top speed of 186mph.
The Lyonheart K will share some things in common with Jaguar’s most powerful car the XKR-S courtesy of common chassis components and the same 550bhp 5.0-litre supercharged engine.
“The dynamics of the car will be very similar to the XKR but it is quite a bit lighter so it will feel a bit swifter,” said Mr Palm.
Explaining how the CPP manufacturing deal came about, Mr Palm admitted the car might have been built in another country but he feels it is right it has ended up “coming home” to Coventry.
“At the beginning I was looking for a manufacturer and had been travelling around the whole of Europe,” he said. “We had strong demand so we wanted to find a place. My travels took me to Finland, Italy and even Eastern Europe. I just ended up in Coventry at CPP and thought that would be ideal as it’s just a stone’s throw from where Jaguar was.”
It is hoped the Lyonheart will go on show to the press and public at the beginning of next year.
The order book is filling up fast according to Mr Palm, with interest coming from all over the world, though mainly English speaking countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Around 12 purchase agreements have been signed and there is also interest from Germany, France and even China.
But tough regulations for the US market mean the car will not be sold there, for the time being at least.
And though the run is limited, Mr Palm says there could well be a second generation model, as well as other models in the pipeline.
“We want to start a new brand not just a car,” he said. “If the Lyonheart works out well then there will be other models based on the Lyonheart but also other cars. But it is too early to say anything about that right now.”
As to why the original E-Type was so successful and who the Lyonheart K might appeal to he added: “It was ahead of its time when it came out in the sixties. It was really breathtaking in terms of design and performance.
“I think the shape of the car is so recognisable. It’s like the Coke bottle, that’s why it became an icon, because it’s so recognisable and because it doesn’t look like any other car.
“Everybody recognises it and it pleases everyone – old people, young people, women. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like the E-Type.
“There are a lot of people who are ready to pay a lot of money to have a modernised E-Type such as the Eagle, which is even more expensive than our car – people who want to see the spirit of the old Jaguar design in a new car.”
Acknowledging the hefty price tag Mr Palm said it was inevitable when producing such a limited run of high end handmade cars, with tooling costs and the carbon fibre panels, which cost £60,000 on each vehicle.
He added: “It is expensive but it is exclusive, the very best of what you can find in the market today.”