1993 Jaguar XJ220

by | Dec 11, 2019

Photo Credit: Brian Henniker

1993 Jaguar XJ220

by | Dec 11, 2019

Photo Credit: Brian Henniker












Gooding & Company


January 17 - 18, 2020

It began as an off-hour project by Jaguar volunteers led by Jim Randle, the company’s Director of Engineering. The object was to build a modern mid-engine example of what made Jaguar’s winning race cars so memorable. Keith Helfet ultimately gets credit for the sleek aero body shape of the 1993 Jaguar XJ220.

The plan was to create a street supercar capable of 220 mph, hence the XJ220 name. That first version was powered by a 6.2-liter V-12 engine with all-wheel drive. Launched at the 1988 British International Motor Show, it was an immediate hit, overshadowing Ferrari’s F40 and prompting blank checks from Jaguar enthusiasts.

Development of the production XJ200 fell to Jaguar, working with Tom Walkinshaw Racing  (TWR). They discovered the V-12 engine and all-wheel drive wouldn’t work well together. That layout was replaced with a reworked Austin Rover V-6 engine at 3.5 liters, fuel-injected, and matched to a pair of Garrett turbochargers for 542 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. The drive is through the rear wheels only and includes a 5-speed gearbox.

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The XJ220 chassis has a bonded honeycomb aluminum structure with an integral roll cage that adds to the car’s rigidity. The car build also includes front and rear double unequal length wishbones suspensions that help to control the wheel. The four-piston calipers on the AP racing disc brakes were proven to be challenging to operate under cold weather conditions. The rear-wheel steering is powered by rack and pinion, and the suspension design is mainly focused on road usage. 

That drivetrain put the XJ220 through to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. I rode with Le Mans winner Davy Jones in an XJ220 at Italy’s Nardo circular test track. Jones was able to top 210 without issue, but 220 mph was out of reach. However, I was smiling the entire time. 

The Jaguar XJ220 is a large car. It is 22 inches longer and 9 inches wider than a Ferrari F40. While Jaguar planned to build 350 XJ220s, a deepening recession and various other factors pulled the final production number down to 281.

One notable difference with Jaguar’s XJ220 is the interior. The time of production was the era of the Ferrari F40, which had a fundamental, almost race car-like interior. But the XJ200 was different. Among the supercars of that era, it was compared to the plush interiors of a limousine — complete with comfortable leather seats and evoking a feeling of sporty luxury. 

The XJ220 received mixed reviews from car journalists and was last produced in April of 1994.

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