There are very few production cars that can claim to have been born out of a spare-time project, but the Jaguar XJ-220 is the most famous of all. Jaguars chief engineer, Jim Randle, dreamt up the idea of creating the ultimate supercar on Christmas and fired up enough enthusiasm with colleagues to start a ’Saturday club’ to work on the project.
At first not even the Jaguar board knew about the secret tinkering going at its Engineering Department at Whitley in the West Midlands of Britain. When it did find out, the enthusiasm bubbled over, and the new XJ-220 was wheeled out at the 1988 Birmingham Motor Sow as an official Jaguar concept car. The prototype XJ-220 was an immense beast, mainly because it had to be accomodated around TWR racing components and Jaguars massive V-Twelve engine mounted in a central position. Still, Keith Helfets aluminium bodywork design was a sublime piece of sculpture.
UPDATE 01/19/2011: At one point in time, the Jaguar XJ220 was considered the king of the road and ended up being the measuring stick for how supercars were built. Before the venerable McLaren F1 hit the scene and set the bar to a whole new level, the XJ220 was the fastest production car on the planet.
Two decades later, the XJ220 has been surpassed by a number of vehicles, but it still holds some clout within the industry, ranking 7th in the list of fastest supercars of all time. Only 278 models of the XJ220 were built with less than 15 being imported to America, and one of these exclusive models will be up for grabs at the Russo and Steele auctions on January 19, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This particular model was originally sold new in Spain and comes complete with original owner’s manuals and unused first-aid kid.
It’s an extremely rare chance to own a piece of one of the rarest and fastest supercars to have ever been built, one that we figure is going to command a ton of attention at Russo and Steele.
Exterior and Interior
When the Jaguar XJ220 was first introduced at the 1988 Birmingham Motor Show, the world was predictably awestruck at the car that could do things no other car on the planet was capable. Featuring an exterior that looks nothing like what Jaguar was accustomed to producing at the time, the XJ220 was an immense beast, having to accommodate a number of TWR racing components and a bodywork that featured an aerospace-type bonded-aluminum honeycomb with Group C racing-inspired aerodynamics.
Nevertheless, the bodywork design of the XJ220 was a wondrous piece of work that spurred a new generation of sleek and aggressively-designed vehicles.
Despite being older than a lot of supercars rolling around the streets these days, the Jaguar XJ220 is still one of the fastest of the lot, ranking seventh in the list of fastest production cars in the world. It’s got a 3,498cc 24-valve twin turbo V6 engine with 542bhp and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, a four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel vented disc brakes.
It can run from ’north to 60’ in just 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of 217 mph.
Pricing for this beast is hard to gauge considering the supercar has been around since New Kids On The Block were Hangin’ Tough. At that time, the XJ220 sold for £403,000, or around $600,000. Today, we’re not so sure, although a car like this could still fetch for somewhere around $150,000 - $200,000.
Back in the day, the XJ220 had but one notable rival - the McLaren F1. Before the latter broke into the scene, the XJ220 reigned supreme as the fastest production car in the world, but when the 6.1-liter, quad-cam, 48-valve V12 McLaren F1 burst onto the streets, it pretty much blew the XJ220 out of the water.
One of the cars that started the ’supercar’ movement
Amazing piece of architecture
Still extremely fast, despite its age
Not sure of its current condition
Might be a little pricey given its stature
Interior looks outdated