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

Jaguar XJ220: buying guide & review (1993-1994) Classic and Performance Car
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 sympathetic 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. 
As a driving machine today, the XJ220 has certainly got its charms. It won’t tingle the senses like an F40, but it’s a seriously capable machine that is talented in the corners as well as mightily quick in a straight line. This is thanks, in part at least, to the fact the car was engineered by none other than Tom Walkinshaw Racing, the outfit responsible for Jaguar’s motorsport antics during the 1980s. Everything learned the on the track could be fed into making the XJ220 the ultimate road car.
Although TWR has to take some of the blame for not being able to make the concept car’s 500bhp racing V12 and all-wheel drive transmission work for production, (causing many people who had placed a deposit on the XJ220 to have second thoughts), the small the engineering firm did a top job making the Metro 6R4-derived engine incredibly potent. Switching to this much smaller and lighter engine helped to keep the XJ220’s weight closer to tat of the 959. It doesn’t sound particularly great though, which is possibly this car’s biggest failing in the supercar stakes. 
Unlike the F40, and most other rivals, the XJ220 is surprisingly comfortable to live with on a longer journey too. Okay, it might seem a little bit Plain Jane on the inside when put up against any one of its sexier Italian rivals, but those super-wide, long and low proportions really stand out from the crowd. 
The XJ220 is a supercar on the cusp of greatness, 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.
Although you are unlikely to come across one on the open market, there are reportedly two special Pininfarina-bodied XJ220s in existence, originally commissioned by the Sultan of Brunei. The car’s interior and exterior was completely re-worked, and the result looked surprisingly well resolve, and somewhat more slender looking. Active aerodynamics are thought to have been engineered into the car’s new sleek bodywork, and although not much is known about these ‘one-off’ specials, they are thought to be fully functioning.
Performance and specs
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.
Owners clubs, forums 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.
Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar XJ220
Last updated: 22nd Mar 2016
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Jaguar XJ220 cars for sale

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Jaguar XJ220
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  • 1994 Jaguar XJ220 Coupe

    $450,000(£348,795) $450,000(£348,795)

    In the early 1980s, motor racing’s international governing body, the FIA, unveiled a new formula for rallying and sports car racing to replace the old Group 4 and Group 5 regulations. The new Group B formula required a production of just 200 cars for homologation and had limited restrictions on materials, weight and boost for turbocharged cars. Most enthusiasts are familiar with the flame-spitting monsters that ruled the rally stages of the era, but Group B was also intended to encompass international sports car endurance racing. Several manufacturers committed to the formula before it was swiftly canceled in the light of the deaths of drivers, co-drivers and spectators in rallying. Porsche had already begun development on the 959 as had Ferrari with the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Jaguar had a particular interest in the sports racing side of Group B as they had won LeMans multiple times in the 1950s and revived their program via Tom Walkinshaw Racing with the XJR series of Group C sports prototypes. In spite of their successes on track, some at Jaguar felt the Group C cars were too far removed from Jaguar’s road cars. Group B gave them an opportunity to create a road legal sports car that could compete and possibly win at LeMans – continuing the legacy set by the C-Type and D-Type. Jaguar’s director of engineering, Jim Randle headed a small team working in secret, after hours, to develop a concept. By this point, Group B had been canceled but the team pressed on regardless. The initial concept was for a V12 powered, four-wheel-drive supercar built using space-age lightweight materials. The concept car was completed and shown at the British Motor Show for 1988, to tremendous fanfare. 1,400 customers left deposits of 50,000GBP and production plans were set in motion. Jaguar enlisted Tom Walkinshaw Racing to develop the production car as they did not have the resources to do it themselves. From the onset, the XJ220 faced challenges. First and foremost was the size: The concept was enormous and the combination of the V12 engine and four-wheel-drive made the car immensely overweight and far too long for the road. So a decision was made to ditch the V12 in favor of a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.5 liter V6 developed by TWR for the Group B MG Metro 6R4. The upside was the smaller engine made an astounding 542 horsepower. The rear wheels were driven via a robust 5-speed transaxle supplied by FF Developments. The resulting car was briefly the fastest production car ever produced, eclipsing the 959 and F40 with a 217.1 mph top speed. The body is both beautiful and functional, producing tremendous downforce at speed.  The XJ220-C did get to LeMans, winning the GT Class in 1993 only to have their victory tossed out on a technicality; an occurrence that epitomized the greater project which was fraught with production delays, spiraling costs and unsold stock. This gorgeous 1994 XJ220 is one of a handful of examples that found their way Stateside. It has covered a mere 1,600 KM from new (only 994 miles!) and has benefitted from recent comprehensive servicing by Muncie Imports, the only XJ220 specialists in the USA. These cars were very well built and nicely finished from new, and were positively luxurious in comparison to an F40. This example retains it fine original gray leather, showing just a small amount of wear on the driver’s outer bolster but otherwise remaining in excellent condition, and the LeMans blue paintwork is beautiful. The factory issue Alpine audio system is intact as are the original tools such as the center-lock wheel nut. In addition to the original tools, the previous owner has acquired a full set of service pads (custom tailored pads that protect the alloy panels during service) as well as factory service and parts manuals and a Jaguar Heritage Certificate. As part of the recent comprehensive service by Muncie Imports, the critical fuel cell replacement service was performed. This highly specialized service is necessary for all XJ220s as they surpass 20 years of age, and is a very important factor when considering Jaguar’s supercar for purchase. As well as the fuel cell replacement, timing belts were changed along with rebuilt brake calipers and cylinders, cam cover gaskets and assorted seals and oil hoses, totaling over $120,000 in parts and labor. Few XJ220s available have such comprehensive service performed, particularly with so few miles. The fastidious previous owner has kept this car in outstanding order and it is now ready to be driven and enjoyed. The incredible performance of the XJ220 has to be experienced first-hand to be fully appreciated, yet it can also be quite docile and easy to drive. With this truly outstanding low mileage example, the new owner can feel confident to enjoy the mind-altering performance without worry.  

    For sale
    Hyman Ltd
    314-524-6000 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 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
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