This was really a race car for the road.

Name: Jaguar XJR-15
Debut: 1990
Specs: 6.0-liter V12, 450 horsepower (336 kilowatts)
Price: Nearly $1 Million

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 totaling 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 roadgoing 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 fiber for the body panels and monocoque, which resulted in a low weight of only about 2,300 pounds (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 fiber 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-liter 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 (96 kilometers per hour) in 3.9 seconds and to a top speed of 191 mph. Buyers had the choice between a non-synchronized 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-liter 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.