RE: Showpiece of the Week: Jaguar XJ220

RE: Showpiece of the Week: Jaguar XJ220

Monday 26th November

Showpiece of the Week: Jaguar XJ220

Long gone are the days when an XJ220 looked like the 'affordable' used hypercar. Its value has doubled in the last four years



If you were playing a game of car Top Trumps in the early 1990s, there were a handful of cards that could turn a game in your favour. You'd probably giggle with confidence at the sight of a Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 or Bugatti EB110, but the card you really wanted had a Jaguar X220 on it. It could do 220mph, after all, and nothing could top that, right? Well, um, not exactly, because rather than getting bogged down in specifics, Top Trumps listed the Jag's top speed as a rather vague "200mph+".

The confusion was understandable. As a concept, the XJ220 was built to be capable of 220mph, hence the name. But fresh from delivering a win to Jaguar at the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours, test driver Andy Wallace could only get the production version to 212.3mph. Which was disappointing because XJ212 didn't have quite the same ring to it and nor did it fit the badges. So Jaguar went with the legend, and probably consoled itself with the idea that if it weren't for the turbocharged V6 bouncing off its limiter, the car would easily have been capable of living up to its name.

Really the snafu was academic anyway because the XJ220 did not need a verified top speed to be thought special. It was conceived that way from the ground up. Jaguar partner Tom Walkinshaw Racing - the team it had won at Le Mans with - was involved in the car's development from the off and its input ensured that the XJ220 was brimmed not only with motorsport pedigree, but also the sort of exotic engineering focus that had already made the Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 justly famous.


Initially, of course, the XJ220 was intended to run with a 6.2-litre V12 engine, drawing a direct link to the Silk Cut-liveried Jaguar XJR-9 Le Mans prototype. But in the transition from show car to production reality, it was decided that a 3.5-litre turbocharged motor with half the cylinders would be used instead. The move was not popular with prospective customers but it helped make the XJ220 lighter and smaller, and less profligate on the emissions front.

Also, with a pair of blowers at its disposal, the smaller engine was no less ferocious than the twelve. Flat out, the V6 provided 550hp at 7,200rpm and 472lb ft at 4,500rpm, which were enormous numbers for the era. Particularly when they came wrapped in a rear-wheel drive car that was constructed from aluminium (and newfangled carbon fibre in TWR's XJ220S) and shaped to cause the air as little trouble as possible as it thundered through it.


To illustrate the level of pace it had delivered, Jaguar entered three XJ220 racing cars into the GT class of Le Mans in 1993. The British team dominated and, most importantly, beat Porsche. But success was short lived because it was later found that the XJ220 racers were running without catalytic converters. Aside from being against the regulations, it was claimed this provided the racers with a power advantage, so they were subsequently disqualified.

Still, the competition version had at least helped shine a spotlight on Jaguar's supercar at a time when the segment was getting a little crowded. McLaren somewhat ruined the party when its 240mp F1 arrived very soon afterwards, yet the XJ220 was handicapped more by global recession than any one rival. In the end, only 271 cars were produced.

In recent years, XJ220s have looked liked something of a bargain compared with its standout rivals from the glory days. Although, as today's Showpiece confirms, values have since made their way into the stratosphere. The vibrantly coloured car in question is a minter, there's no doubt about it, with only 5,000 miles on the clock. But it's up for a few quid shy of £550,000, which is more than double what similarly lovely XJ220s were going for just four years ago. Rarity helps, of course. As does the model's singular place in Jaguar's history. Whatever its top speed.

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Author
Discussion

Esceptico

Original Poster:

1,519 posts

45 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
What is bonkers it that the 500 bhp - which was a monster figure at the time - now looks a bit weedy.

richiekuk

19 posts

143 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
I was at the NEC, as a child when the XJ220 was unveiled. I was in awe of it then, and I still love it now.
It’s almost unreal to think that 500bhp was “cutting edge”, but as is the speed of progress.

MarJay

2,004 posts

111 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
What is crazy is 500bhp from a 3.5 litre V6...

moneymakestheworldgoaround

3,706 posts

111 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Not really related to the story but I've sat in that exact car.

What a beast laugh

300bhp/ton

35,322 posts

126 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
"Showpiece of the week", that's a new one isn't it? When I saw it listed in What's New, I thought, I bet this is just another article with a link to the classifieds.....
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Krikkit

13,521 posts

117 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
On of my very favourite cars and right up near the top of my lottery win list. Gorgeous.

NJJ

117 posts

16 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Love the Spec of that car and I think Martin Brundle took one to 217 at Nardo. Such a fabulous shape just wish it had a better engine note.

JMF894

2,666 posts

91 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
THE supercar for me

400SE Dave

1,199 posts

107 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Great looking car, nice to see one in a different colour than Silver.

Amari rarely under price their cars, as with any it would be nice to know what it actually goes for if/when it goes

Lotobear

857 posts

64 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Metro 6R4 engine I seem to recall.

There's a silver one local to me - when it tootles through the 30mph zone the engine sounds like the proverbial sack of hammers

RacerMike

2,072 posts

147 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Lotobear said:
Metro 6R4 engine I seem to recall.
Only the block was the same. The heads, turbo's and everything else was different.

MarkH1987

18 posts

1 month

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Great cars, I've always loved these.

myhandle

816 posts

110 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
It's an aluminium car, not carbon fibre as the article suggests.

easytiger123

1,488 posts

145 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
I remember a syndicate of guys at work clubbing together to buy one of these for a punt just before the early 90's classic/supercar bubble burst. Thank fk I was stony broke then and wasn't part of it. Didn't end well.

RB Will

5,414 posts

176 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Shows you how important aero is when going for top speed. XJ220 has pretty much the same power/ torque as my Impreza but even with a gearing change I would be amazed at mine topping 180 let alone 210+.

Anyone know how much room it takes to get the likes of these and F40 / F50 to get up to 200mph?

wjb

2,350 posts

67 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Stunning car, saw one in the flesh (metal) a little while back.

Just round the corner from home and it was just peaking out of a driveway trying to join the main road, my wife was driving and didn't let it out. rolleyes

F4R

36 posts

1 month

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
An XJ220 came steaming up behind me once and we were both turning right to head onto a dual carriageway (me in a 150bhp mk4 Golf GTI). I gave mine as much stick as it had and waited for the XJ220 to come flying past - which it obviously did shortly after.

It was great to see and hear it being driven in anger. They have a staggering amount of road presence too.

BigChiefmuffinAgain

75 posts

34 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
My Dad had one on order at the time. I remember we went to the factory ( at Bloxham ? ) to discuss spec. I was just a spotty teenager at the time but even then I tell that jaguar management were quite nervous about the project. The whole "spec change/contract default" challenges were just kicking off and there was a feeling of "things not going to plan" in the air. The Jaguar people kept on questionning exactly what is a "Jaguar customer, and what do they want from such a car".

You have to remember, that, at the time, the sportiest thing that Jaguar made was an XJS, so this was way outside their comfort zone. Although they had the heritage, they didn't have the same clientele as, say, Ferrari had access to. As the bubble for these things burst ( and remember how much even Mclaren struggled to shift F1's ) ,demand for these things went stone dead. My dad managed to sell his contract to an American doctor and was happy to walk away - I should add that my father was a genuine enthusiast who bought a 959 instead and not a speculator.

It is interesting how we seem to be playing out pretty much the exact same scenario again these days.

AdamV12AMR

1,112 posts

92 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
BigChiefmuffinAgain said:
My Dad had one on order at the time.
Given how many of your posts seem to start with "My Dad had one of these", you must have had a wonderful childhood thumbup

clonmult

10,329 posts

145 months

Monday 26th November
quotequote all
Lotobear said:
Metro 6R4 engine I seem to recall.

There's a silver one local to me - when it tootles through the 30mph zone the engine sounds like the proverbial sack of hammers
Same basic engine, but worked on - which was one of the problems with the car. It is difficult to sell a supercar when the engine was previously seen in a metro, regardless of how amazing the metro was.

Personally always thought the XJR-15 was the way better looking car, the 220 left me a little cold.