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The Jaguar XJ220 turns 20
In case you forgot to add it to your diary in 1992, 2012 is the 20th anniversary of fastest Jaguar ever produced - the XJ220.
Conceived by an informal group called “The Saturday Club”, Jaguar’s chief engineer Jim Randle wanted to make a Jaguar that could beat the supercars of the time, the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959.
Like the C-X75, the XJ220 was only meant to be a demonstration of what could be done if Jag switched its cerebrum on, built for the British Motor Show at Birmingham in 1988. When the covers were pulled off everyone loved it, so Jim Randle started scratching his head to see if a production XJ220 could work.
It could… but there were some prerequisites. It had to lose its 530bhp 48-valve V12 engine, 4WD system and Lambo-esque scissor doors featured on the concept. This left half the engine (a twin-turbo V6 from a Rover Metro) and half the powered wheel. But the determination to hit 220mph endured.
PUB AMMO ALERT the XJ220 is completely separate from the XJ range but the “220” is a reference to the targeted top speed of 220 mph.
A total of 281 XJ220s were hand-built in Bloxham, Oxfordshire and they came with a hefty £470,000 price tag. This meant that only really rather rich people could get their hands on one… like Flamboyant glasses enthusiast, Elton John.
MORE PUB AMMO ALERT, Elton was the 57th customer to order an XJ220 and once, when returning from tennis, clipped some roadworks cones in it.
In 1992 Jaguar took the XJ220 to Nardo - the very same, very scary ring that the boys visited in last week’s show. With Martin Brundle at the wheel (we can’t confirm if he wore his jingle-jangle necklace) the plan was to go fast. Really fast.
Initially the car hit 212.3mph but then Jag decided to throw out the cats and increase the rev limiter in an effort to beat the wind. The result was 217.1 mph; if it had been a straight road it would have nudged 220 mph. Job done.
The mighty Jaaaaaaag held the record for the highest top speed of a production car until 1994; McLaren’s F1 trounced it with a 242.95mph top whack.
Open your Facebooks, then hit like if you dig the 220. Now click on for more pics.