Jaguar Land Rover has announced the launch of a Special Operations division to meet the needs of its more discerning customers. Similar to Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, it will be an independent team with its own state-of-the-art facilities. Based at a £20 million Technical Centre at Prologis Park, Ryton, around 150 specialist engineers and technicians will enjoy some of the coolest-sounding job descriptions in the motoring industry. Some 100 positions will also be new to Jaguar Land Rover, which has seen tremendous growth in recent years.
Special Operations will have four main roles, but its primary and most visible task will be to create high-performance versions of the company’s models. These will most likely sit above the ‘R’ and even Jaguar’s ‘RS’ high-performance vehicles, rather than replacing them. They are expected to be faster, but perhaps more importantly, Special Operations vehicles will be extremely exclusive and built in very small numbers.
The first car to roll out of its workshop is the Jaguar F-Type Project 7, the fastest and most powerful Jaguar to date. First designed as a bold concept to wow fans at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year, the customer car looks remarkably similar. It features a ‘chopped’ roofline, Jaguar D-Type-inspired tail and 567bhp supercharged V8 petrol engine. Just 250 cars will be plucked from the F-Type production line at Castle Bromwich before being transferred to the Special Operations headquarters to be finished by hand. They will be sold for £135,000 each.
What’s almost as remarkable as the car itself is the 18 months between Jaguar Land Rover’s young designer, Cesar Pieri, penning the first sketches, to the car going on sale. Special Operations will be able to respond quickly to emerging trends and its rivals.
The team’s second role is to create bespoke commissions and an extended choice of colour and trim specifications and accessories. While this work won’t be as high-profile, it will be how most customers engage with Special Operations, and arguably its most important job. Bentley are the current masters here, with customers ushered into a gorgeous VIP area where they can choose to appoint their car in a seemingly endless array of leather and paint colours. It’s so popular, almost every Bentley leaving the Crewe factory has some unique features. Special Operations will have its own VIP commissioning suite, Formula 1-inspired workshops and a specialist paint studio to meet the needs of its high-end customers.
Heritage products will also come under its remit, with Jaguar and Land Rover vehicle recreations, servicing and restorations, as well as the provision of heritage vehicle parts. Jaguar has kicked this off in spectacular fashion by creating six lightweight E-Types, completing an intended production run of 18 cars crafted in 1963, six of which were never actually built. They will be sold for around £1 million each.
Lastly, Special Operations will create a new catalogue of branded products to appeal to current and potential customers. So, even if you can’t afford one of its cars, at least a Special Operations pen or cuff links could perhaps find their way under the Christmas tree.