When sports car makers – like Ferrari and Porsche - were delivering the world supercars like the F40 and 959 in the eighties, Jaguar had nothing to compete despite as noble a racing history. But one man at Jaguar had other ideas – Jim Randle (yes, for those old enough to remember, he of the ‘Randle Handle’) – and he put together an unofficial ‘Overtime Club’ to develop a supercar for Jaguar.
That supercar was delivered in concept form at the Motor Show in 1988 and featured four-wheel-drive (developed by FF Developments, which did the 4WD for the Jensen FF) and a quad cam, 530bhp 6.2 litre V12. The ‘XJ220′ moniker was aspirational – it was the top speed aim for the new Jaguar Concept.
There were no plans to put the XJ220 in to production, but when Ford gobbled up Jaguar as the start of its ultimately disastrous Premier Automotive Group in 1989, it decided the XJ220 should be built. But instead of the 4WD V12 Jim Randle built they tasked Tom Walkinshaw with building the XJ220 with a Walkinshaw 3.5 litre V6 with a pair of turbos which delivered 542bhp, and with RWD.
Jaguar set the XJ220 a price of £361,000 and took orders, but by the time the XJ220 arrived the price had jumped to £460,000, resulting in a number of disgruntled customers and even a High Court action to undo the buy contracts. But Jaguar’s case prevailed, disgruntled buyers were offered a way out and the XJ220 settled in to being the fastest production car in existence – until the McLaren F1 arrived.
The top speed of the XJ220 is a bit open to debate. As a bog-standard car it hit 213mph, but in 1992 Martin Brundle took an XJ220, with the limter off and the Cats removed, to 223mph at the Nardo Ring.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the XJ220 Jaguar got together chassis 004 and one of the handful of XJ220S models built by Tom Walkinshaw, from bits of the XJ200C Le Mans cars, which delivered 680bhp and had a single-piece carbon fibre front and rear clamshells, revised springs and dampers and a stripped out interior.
We’ve even managed to get hold of the original promotional video for the XJ220, which all owners received when they took delivery, so lots of XJ220 goodness to take in.
Jaguar XJ220 20th Anniversary Photo Gallery
(20 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)
Jaguar XJ220 Promotional Video