New documentary shows how Bridgestone re-developed its original XJ220 tyres 25 years after the car was launched.
Keeping classic supercars on the road is often a surprisingly difficult task, but one that has just got ever so slightly easier for owners of the 217mph Jaguar XJ220. Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone announced at the end of 2016 that it was working with specialist Don Law Racing to produce a newly-developed tyre for the record breaking supercar.
It is very rare for a new tyre to be developed specifically for an older car, and Bridgestone has admitted that it won’t make any money from the exercise. Bridgestone originally developed special 255/45ZR17 and 345/35ZR18 for the XJ220, designed to cope with the extreme forces at over 200mph, but these tyres went out of production over ten years ago, leaving owners in an increasingly difficult position when it came to tyres.
After much persuasion from Law, Bridgestone came on board and started work on bringing the original design up to modern standards. This required many months of testing, but the re-engineered tyre has now been signed off by Bridgestone and Don Law. The interesting story has been documented on film, which has been released on Youtube.
There is plenty of input from each of the people involved during development – Alastair Macqueen, Andy Wallace, John Nielsen and Shinichi Watanabe. Testing took place at Bridgestone's facility near Rome in Italy, and the new tyres were worn by XJ220 chassis no.004, one of the original development cars that has been rebuilt by Don Law racing to original specification.
Thanks to the efforts of specialist Don Law – who first approached Bridgestone Europe after a chance meeting – the new tyre should be available in time for 25th anniversary celebrations later this year. The new tyres will meet the original demanding specification for the extreme supercar, while bringing in the significant advancements in tyre technology.
Justin said: ‘It’s not just about knowing tyres, this is about knowing everything about the car and how it is supposed to handle. I’m one of the very few people that have been lucky enough to drive this car regularly during the last 23 years, and I’ve covered more than 100,000 miles.
‘But don’t just take my word for it” he continued, “with Bridgestone we brought the engineers and test drivers from 25 years ago back together, so we were pretty much guaranteed to do the job right.’
‘A project this exciting though doesn’t deserve to be secret’ added Christophe De Valroger, Vice President Consumer OE at Bridgestone Europe ‘car lovers everywhere acknowledge the appeal of the Jaguar XJ220 and its history, and for that reason we decided to tell the whole story in film.’
The film not only explores the new tyre, but looks back at the development of the original car 25 years ago – including some fantastic footage of the original Nurburgring lap record. It’s a long watch at more than 40 minutes, but if you are a fan of the XJ220, an extremely interesting one.