Jaguar XJ220: zero to hero in 25 years

Posted: February 22, 2016 by The Car Spy in Auctions, Classic Cars, Jaguar
Tags: , , , , ,

xj220

If you had met your mates for a drink in the local and told them you had just bought a car that could reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and could max out at 217 mph do you think they could guess the make and model? Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren etc would be the obvious candidates until you mentioned that it was built in 1992, and it’s a Jaguar XJ220.

The all-aluminium XJ220 was a car that made umpteen records and even by today’s hypercar standards the numbers still look impressive. A Nurburgring lap time of 7:46 set by the XJ220 was unbroken from 1992 until 2000 and the car’s twin-turbo V6 produced 540hp which in the early 90’s was akin to selling a Formula One racer to Joe Public. But it didn’t sell.

The story of the V12 proposed for the XJ220 being ditched in favour of the V6 at the eleventh hour is well-documented and for supercar-wannabes the smaller engine was a faux pas. The fact that it made the car actually go faster than originally intended was ignored by both prospective buyers and the press. Interesting that here we are today hearing about twin-turbo V6’s ultimately replacing traditional V12, V10 and V8 powerplants to save weight and become more fuel-efficient. The XJ220 could achieve 32 miles per gallon which made it the most economical car produced by Jaguar at the time. And still it didn’t sell.

So what really was behind the cancelled orders and the grand total of only 271 cars being produced? Simple – price.

When the XJ220 was launched in 1992 the list price in the UK was £470,000 including vat. That is over £100k more than you might spend on an Aventador SV today. The development costs crippled the project and nonetheless had to be recouped but buyers just couldn’t stomach the outlay. Great car but not at any price.

However, prices for XJ220’s have long-since hit rock-bottom and buying one for around £100,000 was something that occurred about 10 years ago. Now they are heading for £300k+ territory. The market has woken up to the fact that the XJ220 rightly deserves a place in the automotive history books and is a proper icon that moved the game on in its day.

The XJ220 is big and has presence. The styling is svelte and will draw crowds parked in a High Street even parked next to a LaFerrari. It is comfortable and very easy to drive (just avoid country lanes because it is wide, very wide). Most XJ220’s today have covered seriously low mileages and time is running out to buy at less than 1992 prices – the car is an absolute bargain.

We have spotted a 1994 Silverstone Green example with less than 3000 miles on the clock complete with what looks like great service history and provenance on sale in the Silverstone auction on the 27th/28th February here. The sales estimate is less than £300k so this could be a good opportunity for somebody looking to acquire a decent XJ220.

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In the meantime here is Jay Leno having his first encounter with an XJ220….

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