More than 50 XJ220s are heading to the Silverstone Classic this year, for a world record lap parade.
Heading to the Silverstone Classic this year? There are lots of things to look forward to, but one of the major attractions to the 2017 event will be the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jaguar’s record-breaking XJ220, which was the fastest production car at the time of its manufacture in 1992.
Working closely with renowned XJ220 specialist Don Law Racing, the organisers of the annual Classic are aiming to bring together more than 50 examples for a display and circuit parade at the end of July.
Don Law himself said: ‘We are inviting all XJ220 owners from right round the world to join us for what will be a really special celebration of an often overlooked supercar.’
‘We will be bringing along some special models including the Martini car and the MIRA crash test car, and we are also hoping to have one of the factory Le Mans cars here. The largest public gathering of XJ220s in the UK to-date is 20 – our aim for this summer’s Classic is to at least double that.’
The Jaguar XJ220 extravaganza will take place on the Saturday of the Silverstone Classic, with a parade lap involving very special guests with close associations with the car’s design and development.
The seed for the idea of showcasing the XJ220s was planted back in 2011, according to Wigley. ‘It all really started with the remarkable cavalcade of 767 E-types, which still holds an official Guinness World Record for a parade of Jaguars. Since then, we’ve seen massive numbers of Aston Martins, Porsche 911s, Ferrari F40s, Ford Mustangs and even grand prix cars all take to the track – and this year, we will add never-before-seen numbers of XJ220s to that incredible roster.’
The XJ220 was originally conceived to feature a V12 engine plus four-wheel-drive, to meet emissions legislation and performance targets. But the showroom XJ220 model arrived with a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 developing 542bhp, delivered to the rear transaxle via a five-speed manual gearbox.
Then a racing version of the car – the XJ220-C – was introduced in 1993 to compete in the GT class within international sportscar races. It was worth it: later that year, a factory-entered XJ220-C driven by David Brabham, David Coulthard and John Nielsen won the GT category at Le Mans.
Unfortunately, however, the victory was withdrawn by the French organisers. And the car wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, as David Brabham explained: ‘When I first saw the XJ220, I must admit I thought it was a sexy-looking beast, but as soon as we started testing it transpired to be difficult to drive.’
‘In fact, by the time we got to Le Mans pre-qualifying, it was pretty scary and tail-happy – not to mention slow. A much bigger rear wing was fitted for the race, all of a sudden bringing the car to life – but even then, the week was far from straightforward. Despite a variety of dramas, we fought back against all odds to win our class.
‘To represent Jaguar at Le Mans was already something very cool, and to be up on the podium after the race was amazing, with a sea of fans down in the pit-lane below. My brother was one of the overall race winners with Peugeot, so it was a particularly special moment for the Brabham family, celebrating a double victory.
‘And then, of course, we got disqualified…’
But all this adds to the drama and allure of the incredible XJ220. And the opportunity to see 50 of them at once is indeed a rare treat.
The XJ220 celebration takes place at Silverstone Classic from July 28 to July 30. For more information visit www.silverstoneclassic.com