When the Jaguar E-Type (a.k.a. XK-E) debuted at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, it made the motoring world wet the metaphorical bed. It made the Chevrolet Corvette seem positively ancient (which it most certainly was; 1949 Chevy passenger car chassis, anyone?). It made the Porsche 356 look even more like a coachbuilt VW Beetle. And it prompted Enzo Ferrari, who was notorious for handing out praise roughly once every fifth blue moon, called it the most beautiful car in the world.
While there may never be a car that takes the industry’s breath away quite like this shapely cat from Coventry, that hasn’t stopped Jaguar from trying to go back to the well. Nor has it stopped other companies from producing their own tributes to the immortal E. And one of the most striking in recent memory is the Lyonheart K.
If the K looks more than a little familiar, it’s based on Swedish designer/3D artist Bo Zolland’s Growler design study from a while back. In fact, we included a rendering of the Growler in our automotive renderings top 50 list last year. Some of the details such as the side vents and lights have changed since then, but the rest is pretty much unchanged now that the project is being run by Lyonheart Cars, a new firm established in – oddly enough – the English city of Coventry as a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Classic Factory. And if that’s not nifty enough, the seductive coupe will be joined by an enchanting cloth-topped roadster.
So the K looks gorgeous, but what good are looks if they aren’t being used to wrap a skeleton that’s equally appealing? Surely a startup like Lyonheart lacks the resources to cook up its own vehicle underpinnings, right? Right. However, it’s not straying very far from the four-wheeled feline family tree; in fact, it’s staying on that family tree. Yes, the Lyonheart K will utilize the current Jaguar XK’s aluminum chassis. Not a bad starting point, if you ask us.
Nor is the XK powertrain a bad starting point, which is why Lyonheart is using it, too. Specifically, it’s using the XKR-S’s supercharged 5.0L V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission. But because Lyonheart seemingly can’t leave well enough alone, it’s sending the engine to the internal combustion shamans at Cosworth for tuning, which is expected to raise total output to 567hp and 516 lb.-ft of torque. Not quite eye-popping numbers by 2013′s rather jaded standards, but still hefty enough to launch the K from parked to 60 mph in a claimed 3.7 seconds en route to an electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph.
Want one? Well, there a few things standing in your way. First, only 250 total Ks (coupes and roadsters combined) will be built. Second, prices start at about $466,000 for a coupe and $485,000 for the droptop…and that’s before you select any options like 20″ wire wheels or special interior trim or upholstery. And third, according to the website, it “is not currently available in the USA,” though the use of the word “currently” seems to imply Lyonheart is at least working on EPA, NHTSA and (we can only hope) CARB certification. In any case, there are plenty of hurdles over which you’ll have to leap. But if you ask us, this prize beats the crap out of getting a metal disc hung around your neck and your picture on a cereal box (No offense, Michelle Jenneke.).