At some point in mid ’80s, Jaguar boss Jim Randle came to the realization that the company had lost sight of its motorsports heritage. In fact, it was mostly just coasting along on warmed over ’70s models. So an idea was hatched to build a homologation special, something wild and daring to compete in Group B racing. That car was the XJ220, and when the first one finally rolled off the production line in 1992, it was the fastest production car in the world. A racing version soon followed, and it won its first race outright, going on to take the GT class win at Le Mans the same year.

So it seemed that Jaguar had reclaimed its racing heritage, and economic prosperity would soon follow, just as it had in the ’50s and ’60s after Jaguar’s utter dominance of Le Mans in the ’50s. But changes to racing and emissions regulations led to changes being made to the car during its transition from a 1988 concept to a 1992 production car. This led to a certain amount of disappointment from fans, even though it was still the fastest car in the world. Add to that the economic downturn of the early ’90s, and the XJ220 had some poor sales.

Updated 08/24/2016: We added a series of images taked during the 2016 Monterey Car Week where a 1993 XJ220 was auctioned for $379,500. Check the "Pictures" tab to see them.

Continue reading to learn more about the Jaguar XJ 220.

  • 1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220
  • Year:
    1992- 1994
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    549@7000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    4500
  • Displacement:
    3498 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.8 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    220 mph
  • car segment:

Exterior

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 High Resolution Exterior
- image 677793

The XJ220 was said to have been inspired by the C-Type and D-Type Le Mans racers of the ’50s, but don’t worry too much if you’re not seeing it. The older cars seem to have mostly served as a spiritual inspiration rather than a direct styling one. But the XJ220 is still a very exciting-looking car. The styling is largely unchanged from that of the original concept in 1988, and that car looked so good that wealthy potential buyers were lining up at the show to put down deposits. The production car did get rid of the scissor doors on the concept, but the general shape of the car is the same. It is slightly shorter though, particularly the wheelbase. This is because the concept had originally used a V-12, but the production car came with a V-6. It was still quite a long car, but Jaguar was able to trim some of the length with the engine change. A small luggage area was also added behind the engine, although this was often referred to as “largely useless.”

Interior

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 High Resolution Interior
- image 677800

The XJ220 is one of the few examples in automotive history of a car being criticized for being too comfortable. Part of this is because the car that the Jaguar dethroned as the fastest in the world was the Ferrari F40. That was a car that didn’t even have an interior to speak of, and its six-year reign had conditioned people to think that for a supercar to be great, it had to be a minimalist exercise in extreme weight saving. And to be fair, the seats alone weighed in at about 100 pounds apiece. And the leather-trimmed interior is indeed pretty plush and comfortable for a supercar. Although, with the exception of the dash that extends all of the way onto the driver’s door, it is a bit bland, something else it was criticized for. But if you want to be comfortable in a supercar, this is one of your better bets.

Drivetrain

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 677823

One of the big controversies surrounding the XJ220 was the engine. The original concept had used a V-12, but changes to emissions regulations before the car actually went to production caused Jaguar to rethink this decision. It was ultimately decided that a V-12 wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of power that Jaguar had promised in the in car while still meeting the emissions requirements. Ultimately, the V-12 was dumped in favor of a 3.5-liter Austin Rover V-6 with twin turbochargers. The decision saved a good deal of weight, and the engine still delivered in the power department, to the tune of 542 horsepower. And as was already mentioned, its 217 mph top speed made it the fastest production car in the world. But this didn’t keep people, many of them customers that had put down a deposit based on the concept, from being seriously disappointed. Many of these customers were so disappointed that they attempted to sue to get out of their contracts, but a judge rules that since the car still produced just as much power as Jaguar had said it would (technically more, since the original projection with the V-12 was 500 horsepower), the contract still held.

Prices

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 High Resolution Exterior
- image 677812

The XJ220 was certainly not a cheap car when it was new. The price at the time of its unveiling in 1992 was about $660,000, or about $1.1 million in today’s money. But between the disappointed customers buying out of their contracts and just the general economic slump of the time, the car was a sales disaster. Jaguar had originally planned on building 350 units of the XJ220, but in the end, only 275 had been built when production was finally halted in 1994. It took until 1997 to sell off the last of them too, at about a quarter of the original price. But none of this was unusual at the time. The McLaren F1, launched in 1993, fared even worse, and Ferrari was slashing prices on the F40 by a huge percentage in order to get rid of unsold units. As a collector car, the XJ220 hasn’t bounced back up quite as high as those other two, but the 1994 example that you see here is estimated by RM Auctions to go for $425,000 - $500,000.

Adding to this particular car’s value is the fact that it is California emissions compliant. Jaguar never sold the XJ220 in the U.S. officially, at least in part because of those same emissions regulations. There are therefore only two XJ220 units known to be compliant with these regulations. It is said that more than $100,000 was spent to bring this car up to spec, and that is no doubt reflected in the pricing estimate.

Competition

Ferrari F40

1987 - 1992 Ferrari F40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 519627

The car that lost the fastest production car throne to the XJ220 was still being sold when the Jaguar debuted. It had been a huge success for Ferrari, one of the most profitable cars in the company’s entire history. Sales far exceeded the original estimates as buyers clamored for this ultimate road-going expression of what Ferrari was capable of. And even though it sold in much bigger numbers than the XJ220, today it is still worth far more.

Read our full review on the Ferrari F40 here.

McLaren F1

The XJ220 only held its fastest production car record for a year, because 1993 saw the introduction of the McLaren F1. With its butterfly doors and strange three-seat interior configuration, the F1 also offered all of the bizarre spectacle that people wanted in a supercar. It was an incredible piece of engineering, so far ahead of its time that held the fastest production car record for longer than any other car before or since. Only 71 of the planned 300 ended up being built, so today the car is very rare and very, very expensive.

Read our full review on the McLaren F1 here.

Conclusion

1992 - 1994 Jaguar XJ 220 High Resolution Exterior
- image 677798

While it is understandable that someone expecting a V-12 might be disappointed to find that their dream car was in fact equipped with a V-6, you would think that the expectation of 500 horsepower being met with 542 horsepower would erase at least a lot of this disappointment. But it didn’t, and the XJ220 regularly faced an undue level of criticism. It was not a car without a certain amount of flaws, but none of these were unique to the XJ220, and have often been brushed off as charming quirks when they pop up on something Italian. It’s a car that deserves a second look.

  • Leave it
    • * Dull-looking interior
    • * Half the cylinders are missing
    • * Not worth much considering its rarity and significance
What do you think?
Show Comments

1 comments:

  (594) posted on 02.8.2012

The stunning exterior doesn’t compliment with the outdated interior. It has superior performance despite its age.

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