It’s 20 years since the astonishing XJ220 burst on to the scene – and today it still has more road presence than any other supercar of its era.
With a top speed of 213mph, it was briefly the fastest car in the world. It’s still up there, today.
Supercat at twenty!
The XJ220 remains the fastest Jaguar ever produced and when launched in 1992 and, at 213mph, had the highest maximum speed of any production car. Constructed using advanced aluminium honeycomb, the car was immensely strong and, despite its size, weighed just 1470 kg.
Originally conceived as a concept car, dreamed up by the legendary Saturday Morning Club, the XJ220 debuted at the 1988 British Motor Show. Designed by Keith Helfet, the car was signed off for production in December 1989 with TWR selected as the partner for the project.
Powered by a 3.5-litre, twin turbo V6 derived from the MG Metro 6R4, the XJ220 channelled its drive through the 18-inch Speedline rear wheels shod in specially developed 345/35 Bridgestone Expedia tyres via a five-speed gearbox and an AP Racing twin-plate clutch. The XJ220 developed 542bhp and 475lb ft of torque to allow it to accelerate to 60mph in under four seconds. Braking was supplied by a set of AP Racing discs and four pot callipers.
Built by hand in an all-new factory in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, prototype 001 was completed in 1990 while car 002 achieved 186 mph at Bruntingthorpe in September of the same year. The first customer car was completed in June 1992 with a retail price of £470,000. The XJ220 courted controversy, too, and not just for its towering performance – the classic and supercar bubble had burst, and prospective buyers were trying to back out, demanding their deposits back, citing the production version’s differences to the V12-powered 4×4 concept they’d first seen in 1988.
Production ceased in 1994, by which time 275 cars had been built.
The silver car in attendance at the recent Jaguar Experience Day held at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon is chassis 004, one of 10 pre-production vehicles. This example was used for extensive tyre and high speed testing at Fort Stockton, Texas, in 1991. Andy Wallace achieved a maximum speed of 213 mph in the car during the testing process.
Once these duties were completed the car was converted to race specification and was campaigned by Justin Law in the British GT Cup. On being retired from racing it was returned to its standard, road-going specification.
The yellow car is an XJ220 S – chassis ‘220-803’. This is the very first XJ220 S, built using spare parts from the Le Mans cars, including single-piece carbon fibre front and rear clamshells, revised springs and dampers and a claimed 690bhp. The luxurious interior of the road car was dropped in favour of Kevlar bucket seats and pared down, carbon trim. The car was unveiled at the Autosport Show in 1993.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.