1992→1994 Jaguar XJ220
Above Images ©Jaguar Cars
As Jagaur’s first production supercar, the XJ220 was a bold step for the British company. Looking at the company’s history, you would have to stretch back to the XK120 to find an equally impressive machine. During the forty years between these models, there are many LeMans winning racecars and striking styling concepts, but nothing that pushes the same thresholds of performance while maintaining production readiness.
Eventually the XJ220 would become the fastest Jaguar and the fastest production car in the world, reaching 217 mph. Other accolades include a first in class at LeMans and a full production of over 200 cars.
The XK220 was first conceived by engineering director Jim Randle and a small group known as the “The Saturday Club”. They witnessed the launch of the Porsche 959 which was a four-wheel drive supercar prepared for Group B racing. As early as 1984, the small team at Jaguar thought a similarly driven, 4WD Jaguar with V12 power would take Jaguar to the top.
From the car’s outset, Randle’s team maintained production feasibility and racing performance. This naturally meant that the V12 was mounted in the middle of a lightweight aluminum chassis. It was supplied by Tom Walkinshaw Racing who produced a 6.2 litre version of their racing engine. Four wheel drive was chosen to better split up the estimated 500 bhp in conditions such as rain which was common in Britain.
Randle fashioned a performance-shaped chassis out of cardboard and then had principle designer Keith Helfet fashion a body for it. Both considered this project a spiritual successor the XJ-13-a 1960s mid-engine prototype that was never raced. Some ideas like the exposed engine and purposeful bodywork were taken from the XJ-13, but Helfet kept the XJ220’s shape thoroughly modern. Helfet’s said the “major challenge of the design was to make it aerodynamically comepetitive” and still meet road regulations.
The first prototype was completed without much executive influence until the car was fully prepared. Just one week before the car’s debut at the 1988 British Motor Show the car got the executives blessing to show the car to potential customers.
This was the first time that many people saw Keith Helfet’s purposeful body, which paid special attention to underbody aerodynamics and lift at high speeds. Other features included scissor doors, covered headlights and a promised top speed of over 200 mph. Immediate reception for the car was excellent. Official production was announced in 1989 with a price tag of £361,000 and production limited to 350 cars.
Enough deposits were made to finance development of the XJ220, but it would take two long years before a final specification was reached. Much to the customer’s dismay, Jim Randle and his team had to change the concept’s radical specification to meet production requirements. Due to the emissions and size of TWR’s V12 engine, a twin-turbo V6 from the Rover Metro 6R4 rally car was used instead. This used twin Garrett T3 turbochargers to make nearly 550 bhp. Despite making more horsepower than the V12, the V6 was criticized because it only drove the rear wheels. Furthermore other factors such as turbo lag and a harsh exhaust note made Jaguar’s first V6 discouraging.
While the small team at Jaguar was trying to sort out their order book, Jaguar Sport and TWR released a limited XJR-15 based on the Le Mans-winning Jaguar XJR-9. It was much more expensive and exclusive, but retained the desirable V12.
Despite the XJR-15 and a price increase to £403,000, the XJ220 went into production at a special factory in Bloxham. First customers included the Sultan of Brunei and Elton John. From 1992 to 1994, the factory produced 208 cars, just shy of the scheduled 220 initial units.
From its conception, Jim Randle wanted to race the XJ220 instead of the more distantly engineered Group C prototypes fielded by TWR. Much like the legendary C and D-Types, he wanted a direct link in between Jaguar’s race and road cars. Despite losing Group B racing, three cars still contested the 1993 Lemans. Only one of three cars managed to survive the race. It was driven to first in class by John Nielsen, David Brabham and David Coulthard, but was revoked weeks later for a technical infringement.
Story by Richard Owen
Chassis & Sales
1996 Jaguar XJ220 - 3,600 km from new - sold for €153,400
This fine example is chassis number 50, the last of the 50 cars built, the first 30 cars being race cars and the last 20 being road versions. First registered in 2000, it has covered just 680 miles from new and is road legal with German registration papers. Finished in British Racing Green metallic with a black and grey leather interior, the car has had two owners from new and has never been raced. A rare chance for the Jaguar collector!
Gallery: Coy's 2010 Legende et Passion Auction
1994 Jaguar Coupé XJ220 Chassis no. SAJJEAEXBAX220633 - sold for $172,000
1,974 Kilometers from new. XJ220 chassis number '633' is one of very few of these cars that are in the U.S.A. and has been DOT/EPA certified and has been approved under 'Show and Display' laws. It was purchased by Larry Rhoades in 2005 having fallen in love with the 1,450 kilometer car at Bonhams 2005 Quail Lodge auction. He subsequently took the car to Florida, enjoying it, but using it sporadically allowing the mileage to rise to a total of ... more
Gallery: Bonhams 2010 Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia
1993 Jaguar XJ220 - sold for $220,000
With less than 700 original miles, this XJ220 is an exceptional example of Jaguar’s ultimate supercar. Its low, sleek, and surprisingly large presence is breathtaking and tremendously inviting. The body has been sculpted to the highest standards of aerodynamic design and, despite being a product of the early 1990s, is clearly still capable of reaching Ferrari Enzo-type speeds. Every component, front to back, is original on this car and in ab... more
Gallery: 2007 Monterey Preview
1993 Jaguar XJ220 - sold for $231,000
The XJ220 presented here is finished in classic silver with a grey leather interior and currently shows approximately 2,900 original kilometers on its odometer. It retains the original paint finish and has no accident history. It was built in August 1993, and it is one of the group of 37 unsold XJ220s that were carefully stored, sparingly driven and serviced at the Jaguar factory in Coventry. It is also one of the group of 10 cars that were fa... more
Gallery: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM
1992 Jaguar XJ220 SAJJEAEX8AX220850 - sold for $220,000
Legendary Jaguar supercar; one of only 281 produced. Recent, comprehensive service, including new clutch, slave cylinder, and timing belts. Less than 2,000 miles from new; U.S. EPA/DOT certified.
Gallery: 2013 Arizona Auction by RM
1993 Jaguar XJ220 SAJJEAEX8AX220765 - sold for €151,200
Finished in Le Mans Blue, this beautiful XJ220 was delivered on 27th May 1993, and it benefits from a gentle life of minimal use by just one owner, the consignor. Currently displaying just over 1,500 kilometres, this flagship supercar offers showroom cosmetic quality and mechanical condition, and it is surely one of the most finely preserved examples of the celebrated model available today. It is a rare example of Jaguar’s fastest street machi... more
Gallery: 2013 Villa d'Erba Auction by RM