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Jaguar XJ220: buying guide & review (1993-1994)

Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220
It was the first production car to break the 500bhp barrier, yet the Jaguar XJ220 has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Some of it was because of unfortunate timing but much of it was down to the fact that between unveiling the prototype and production cars, the XJ220’s specification was downgraded. And the global economy disappearing down the tubes didn’t help.
When Jaguar took the wraps off the XJ220 concept in 1988 the global economy was on a high and investors couldn’t get enough of top-end supercars. But by the time the first production cars were delivered in 1991, the bubble had burst and the XJ220’s investment potential had disappeared.
When Jaguar had announced it was building 350 cars, 1400 people rushed to put down a £50,000 deposit but by the time the production car arrived, many of the punters drawn to receive a car were either suing Jaguar or trying to buy their way out of the contract. In the end, despite just 288 cars being built, Jaguar was left with 150 unwanted cars which were sold off at anywhere between £150,000 and £200,000. Considering the list price when new was £415,000, that was quite a cut – but for many, it still wasn’t enough.
Overlook all this though and you’ll buy a car that – with the right sympethatic upgrades – is nothing less than phenomenal to drive. When launched it was the world’s fastest car, but despite the fact it can do well over 200mph, the XJ220 isn’t worth anywhere near as much as its rivals from Italy and Germany. So buy now, before word gets out and values go stratospheric.
Which one to buy?
Fewer than 300 XJ220s were built but you’ll still always have a handful to choose from at any one time. A big proportion of the cars available have covered very few miles but – as usual – that’s not necessarily a good thing. If an XJ220 has been left standing for months – or even years – without being started up or driven a significant distance, it’ll probably be riddled with faults.
If you buy a car that’s had pretty much no use over the past few years, it’ll almost certainly need to be recommissioned and that’s a costly job – it could easily run to more than 10 per cent of the asking price.
All XJ220s were built to the same spec but since leaving the factory some cars have been treated to a range of upgrades. If you’re planning to use your car rather than just sit on it and hope it goes up in value, any of these upgrades are worthwhile.
The modifications offered include exhaust and turbocharger improvements, plus engine mapping and suspension tweaks to tailor the handling. There’s also a raft of usability tweaks available, including the fitment of parking sensors, improved lighting and a boot modification that can more than treble the amount of carrying capacity. All offered by Don Law, they turn the XJ220 into a car that’s much more usable.
Performance and spec
Engine 3498cc, turbocharged V6
Power 540bhp @ 7200rpm
Torque 475lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 217mph
0-60mph 3.6sec
Consumption 18mpg
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2640mm
Length 4860mm
Width 2000mm
Height 1150mm
Weight 1560kg
Common problems
• Visibility isn’t great, especially to the rear. As a result there are plenty of XJ220s sporting parking knocks; don’t under-estimate the cost of restoring dented bodywork.
• The V6 is tough, but annual oil changes are key if the turbochargers aren’t to wear prematurely. The cam belts also need to be replaced every two years or 12,000 miles.
• Clutches aren’t all that strong which is why some owners have a replacement fitted each time the engine is out to replace the cam belt. That might seem lavish, but if the clutch disintegrates and takes out the gearbox casing, the costs can be huge.
• The XJ220’s brakes are poor but there are upgrades available. If you’re planning to drive the car like it was designed to be driven, expect to invest in some better anchors. Don Law in Staffordshire is the place to go; the company can upgrade the servo and pads or install a complete race-spec system.
• See how old the tyres are and how much tread is left on each of them. Some low-mileage cars are sitting on rubber that’s way past its best-before date and if the tyres are low on tread you’ll have to buy new rubber soon – and that’s not a cheap proposition.
• The bag fuel tanks that are fitted have to be replaced every six years, which is ridiculously frequent for a road car – even one at this level. Replacement is a costly job too, which obviously needs to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing.
• Of course you need to buy a car that comes with a service history, but don’t under-estimate the cost of proper maintenance. Even a routine service will cost plenty; once you’re into the realms of major maintenance plus some replacement parts because of ageing or wear and tear, the bills can be eye-watering.
• Parts availability is surprisingly good, with some bits already being remanufactured. In 2008 Don Law bought Jaguar’s entire stock of XJ220 parts which encompasses interior parts, panels, engine, wheels, windscreens and much more. 
Model history
1988: The Jaguar XJ220 makes its debut at the Birmingham NEC motor show. In prototype form there’s a 6.2-litre V12, scissor doors along with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering. Jaguar doesn’t confirm production at this stage, but takes 1400 deposits anyway.
1991: The first production cars are delivered, but by now the engine has been swapped to a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6. The power goes the rear wheels only, the wheelbase has been chopped by 200mm and instead of active aerodynamics there’s an underbody venturi-effect airflow system.
1992: The final road-going cars are built.
1993: TWR, which helped to develop the XJ220, creates the track-ready XJ220C, for GT racing.
1994: TWR builds six XJ220Ss, which are effectively road-going versions of the XJ220C.
Key clubs and websites
•www.jec.org.uk - Owners’ club
•www.jaguardriver.co.uk - Owners’ club
•www.jaguarownersclub.com - Owners’ club
•www.donlawracing.com - XJ220 specialist
Summary and prices
Considering the XJ220’s excellent pedigree, values are still relatively affordable. Prices have been rising, but a great car can still be bought for around £200,000-£300,000, a fraction of some other supercars from the same era. 
Words: Richard Dredge
Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220
Last updated: 28th Sep 2015
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Jaguar XJ220 cars for sale

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Jaguar XJ220
299990 349990 GBP
  • Jaguar XJ220 : 1992

    £349,990 £349,990

    The Jaguar XJ220 is a two-seater supercar produced from 1992 until 1994, in collaboration with the specialist automotive and race engineering company Tom Walkinshaw Racing. The XJ220 held the record for the fastest production car throughout 1992 after recording a top speed of 213.478 mph, before being superseded by the McLaren F1 in 1993 when it recorded a top speed of 231 mph. The Jaguar held the Nrburgring production car lap record between 1992 and 2000 with a time of 7:46.36. The XJ220 was developed from a V12-engined 4-wheel drive concept car designed by an informal group of Jaguar employees working in their spare time. The group wished to create a modern version of the successful Jaguar 24 Hours of Le Mans racing cars of the 1950s and '60s that could be entered into FIA Group B competitions.The XJ220 made use of engineering work undertaken for Jaguar's then current racing car family. The initial XJ220 concept car was unveiled to the public at the 1988 British International Motor Show, held in Birmingham, England. Engineering requirements resulted in significant changes to the specification of the XJ220, most notably replacement of the Jaguar V12 engine by a turbocharged V6 eng

    • Year: 1992
    For sale
    Simon Furlonger
    01233 646328
  • Jaguar XJ220


    Year: 1992 Mileage: 1650 Transmission: Manual The story behind the Jaguar XJ220 is an inspiring one. Professor Jim Randall, the head of Jaguar’s engineering department, started the ball rolling by sketching out some ideas whilst on a Christmas holiday in the 1980s. It was the stuff of fantasies – V12, 4WD, slippery body with ground effects. Together with colleagues in the ‘Saturday Club’ at Jaguar (so called because they met out of hours and at weekends to work on unofficial pet projects) they toyed with the concept until Jaguar started getting genuinely excited by the idea and official plans were put in place to build what was to be the fastest ever road car. The Birmingham Motor Show in 1988 saw the unveiling of the powered concept with the design featuring a V12, fuel injected, 48 valve 530BHP engine delivering its output to all four wheels. Ultimately, the use of the V6 allowed the chassis to be shortened, although the proportions of this car are still truly impressive. The engine sits behind the two seat cabin, with a tiny boot available behind that. The styling is heavily influenced by the need to cool the highly tuned engine and also to provide sufficient downforce to keep t

    For sale
  • Jaguar XJ220 RHD Delivery mileage Less than 200 miles


    This car was sold to a collector. Several years ago this car came back to the UK and was sold to another collector where again it has been perfectly stored. On the market un-registered with less than 200 miles from new, this car has never been used other than the PDI testing. Article from Jaguar in the Mid 90s Jaguar XJ220 Background The XJ220 story started in 1988 when Jaguar Cars Ltd unveiled its two door mid engine concept car at the Birmingham International Motor Show. XJ220 was clearly aimed at the supercar sector but more importantly reflected the capabilities of British carmakers and the skills of Jaguar. At the time of the concept, Jaguar had no intention to manufacture such an individualist car. However, no-one could have imagined the response from those potential customers prepared to pay large sums of money to own such a car. Manufacture commenced in 1992 by Jaguar Sport, a joint venture company between Jaguars Cars Ltd and TWR Engineering. A maximum of 350 cars were to be produced at the specially developed manufacturing facility at Bloxham in rural Oxfordshire. The Car The beautifully styled XJ220 with its innovative aluminum body and chassis, advanced technology doubl

    For sale
    01256 769000
  • Jaguar XJ220 : 1997

    £299,990 £299,990

    So much has been written about the XJ220 in the 22 years since it started production back in 1992. Only 281 examples of this supercar were ever produced, much less than its direct rival the Ferrari F40. Bad timing, marketing and price increases meant one of the fastest production cars the world has ever seen can be bought for a fraction of the price of other cars to have held this title. The brain child of the Jaguar Saturday club including members of the racing department TWR, the XJ220 promised a V12 engine and 4 wheel drive when it first surfaced in 1988, prompting 1500 deposits. As the car was developed and the UKs economy crashed into darkness the project progressed with the TWR V64V which was also found in the XJR-10 and XJR-11 and the Group B 6R4. Producing 540 BHP but weighing in at only 1390kg the XJ220 is still one of the quickest cars on the road today, with the outright pace to out drag a Pagani Zonda and many other more modern supercars. Fantastic to drive, beautiful to look at and very rare the XJ220 ticks so many boxes and still is one of the supercars. This superb example finished in Spa Silver with Smoke Gray trim has been in the UK since 1997 originally being deli

    • Year: 1997
    For sale
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