Jaguar plans to extend a unique opportunity to car lovers. Next month, it will open the Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience in the UK, giving driving enthusiasts the opportunity to grab the steering wheels of rare and powerful cars from its past and present. Highlights include the classic Le Mans-winning D-Type race car, the E-Type and the all-new 542-bhp F-Type R.
Back in July, Jaguar purchased a 543-car collection from private collector James Hull, calling it the largest-known private collection of British sports cars in the world. The collection isn't strictly Jaguars, but it contains decades' worth of Jaguar heritage, including the XKSS, C-, D- and E-Types.
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Instead of just keeping its impressive collection behind velvet rope and glass panels, Jaguar is doing something much cooler: letting the paying public take the cars out for test drives under the soon-to-launch Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience. The automaker says that many of the cars will make their very first public drives under the program. The program will be hosted by the same Land Rover Jaguar Special Operations that brought us brand-new E-Types and F-Type Project 7s, at the 200-acre Fen End testing facility in Warwickshire, not far from Jaguar's headquarters.
"This is the first experiential offering from our new division and is the first time in Jaguar’s history that we have made a collection of vehicles of this caliber available for ‘arrive and drive’ experiences," says Special Operations managing director John Edwards. "It’s an extremely exciting new project that underscores the very essence of what Special Operations is all about – celebrating heritage with our eyes firmly on the future."
The program will have an emphasis on historical pairings, letting participants drive a classic Jaguar and its modern-day successor. For instance, the £275.00 (US$445) D-Type and F-Type R experience gives you 15 minutes in Jaguar's classic race car and 15 minutes in one of its latest, most powerful sports cars, each alongside a Jaguar professional who talks in detail about the cars. The £195 MKII & XFR pack puts the driver inside a classic 1960s MKII Coombs special edition and a modern 503-bhp XFR (15 minutes in each).
Beyond those packages, there are E-Types, C-Types and XK150s, right on up to the £2,000 full-day, nine-car Grace & Pace experience. In addition to driving, you can also jump in the passenger seat and let a Jaguar employee chauffeur you around.
If your only mission is to drive one of the very D-Types that sped to victory at Le Mans in the mid-50s, you may want to save your money. When looking over the Heritage Drive website, we came across this disclaimer:
"Due to the high value of some of the heritage cars involved in this program some models used will be recreations of the original cars. All recreations are faithful to the originals they are based on and are made with care by the Jaguar Heritage engineering team. Specific recreations include: the C-type, the D-type and the XKSS. The C-type, the D-type and the XKSS cars used at this event are recreations to the original specification and come complete with FIA homologation papers."
While it may not have that vintage worn-leather and engine-oil smell, a classic recreation built by Jaguar to original specifications is still pretty special. The package prices aren't exactly cheap, but they're within reach of a lot of Jaguar fans looking to do something different with their vacation/entertainment funds – something like taking the wheel of a car they would never get to drive otherwise. We love the idea of testing timeless icons side by side with the successors they helped inspire decades later, and we're already checking prices on flights to the UK.
The new Heritage Driving Experience opens up next month. You can find more details about the packages, dates and bookings at jaguarheritagedriving.com. Get a closer look at some of the models included in the experience in the gallery we put together with help from Jaguar's heritage photo archives. Just note that the cars pictured aren't the exact cars that will be used in the experience, merely the same model types.
Source: JaguarView gallery - 35 images