Courtesy of Artcurial Motorcars
The XJ 220 prototype was unveiled to the world in Birmingham in 1988. The car was greeted with enthusiasm, and the decision was taken to produce a limited series of 350 examples. As Jaguar was not set up to produce such a small series, the build project was given to Jaguar-Sport, a joint venture between Jaguar Car Ltd and TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing). The heavy 12-cylinder setup gave way to a derivation of the lighter and less bulky V6 racing engines, allowing the wheelbase to be shortened. For the same reason, the four-wheel-drive option was also abandoned. The weight of the production car came down to just over 1,400 kilos (3,086 pounds). The aluminum body housed an integral steel-tubed roll cage. The aerodynamics of this very quick Jaguar resulted from extensive development, not only to aid penetration through the air, but also to ensure the car had sufficient downforce at high speeds. The tires suitable for this specification were special performance Bridgestones. We are faced here with one of the fastest production cars in the world that, like the Ferrari F40, the McLaren F1, the Bugatti 110S and the Lamborghini Diablo, was capable of well over 300 km/h (186 mph). The F1 driver Martin Brundle was timed at 341 km/h (211 mph) in an XJ 220 on the Nardo circuit. The car on offer, number 27, was one of the first XJ 220s to be sold. It was delivered new in France to the current owner, who has never had the car registered. This gentleman is over 75 years old today and bought the car for its aesthetic appeal. It has remained with its temporary plates, as its Parisian owner does not drive it — he is driven everywhere by his chauffeur. However, he does like to start the car once a week, in its parking place two floors below ground in the car park at his apartment. What’s more, the tricky ramp makes it difficult to get the car out. It is for these reasons that the car has only covered 813 km (505 miles) since leaving the factory. It will be delivered to its new owner with its service book (that includes a service carried out in 2002), owner’s manuals and Jaguar certificate. Here is a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of the marque’s supercars, the stunning XJ 220, with negligible mileage. Moreover, the future owner will have the privilege of being the first person to register it.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1992 Jaguar XJ 220
Years Produced:1992–94
Number Produced:275–281, depending on your source
Original List Price:£470,000
SCM Valuation:$180,000–$210,000
Tune Up Cost:(full service at Don Law Racing): $10,875
Distributor Caps:£45 ($70)
Chassis Number Location:Plate on right side of engine bulkhead
Engine Number Location:Left side of engine near gearbox flange
Alternatives:1990–98 (pre-facelift) Lamborghini Diablo, 1998–ongoing Aston Martin V8 Vantage V600, 2005–11 Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 197, sold for $331,963, including buyer’s premium, at Artcurial’s Rétromobile Sale in Paris on February 6, 2015.

Along with Artcurial’s sale of a 220 in Paris last November at $264k, Silverstone’s $387k for the ex-Sultan of Brunei car just days later and another in this sale (“026”) at $291,822, this is further evidence that the XJ 220 is picking up speed in a rehabilitation that began to pull prices out of the doldrums — as low as $120k at one point in 2002 — about three years ago.

There were several reasons for the car’s slump. The main one is that from the time of the concept car’s announcement at the 1988 British International Motor Show, the hardware was eagerly awaited and speculators were fighting to plonk down their £50,000 deposits and be allocated one of the 350 chassis numbers, eyeing a quick profit in a period when classic car prices last truly soared.

Jaguar took 1,500 deposits, but by the time the cars appeared from TWR, which actually made them, the collector car bubble had burst (déjà vu, anyone?). And, rather than having V12/4×4 drivelines, expediency to meet the 1992 promised production deadline meant a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.5-liter V64V motor from the Metro 6R4 rally car (conveniently available following the outlawing of Group B), driving only the rear wheels.

This caused many an investor to “choose not to exercise their purchase options,” or “wriggle out of their contracts,” as the less squeamish might put it.

Also, the cars were rather, er, wide — and a bit of a tight fit on narrow British roads. As a result, many were put away as investments, hoping for brighter days, and only occasionally came on to the market with low mileages to test the water at what appeared to be bargain prices. Elton John had one, and I remember it doing the rounds of the trade in depressingly ever-decreasing circles about 15 years ago.

Now on a fast rise

But time heals. The “Thunderbirds” styling has come into its own, now looking very period. The 220 is not intimidating to drive (trust me on this one), as visibility out of it is much better than from most supercars from the GT40 and Countach onwards. The car is actually fractionally (one inch) narrower than the most accessible member of the 200-mph club of the late ’90s — the Lamborghini Diablo. However, the Jaguar is considerably longer. The Jaguar’s running costs can be frightening, but then so is properly looking after a Ferrari F40.

This car — with sill plate number 027 — is actually two chassis numbers earlier than “026.” It was always going to raise interest on the basis that it had only covered 813 km (505 miles) and had never been registered.

Even the limited mileage had stone-chipped the front a little, so let’s assume it’s had a few high-speed blasts on motorways (well, it would be rude not to…). The driver’s upper seat bolster was a little worn from weekly climbs in and out, but otherwise it was pretty much like new.

The car’s elderly owner had clearly gone to some pains to prevent the doors touching the walls of his parking space, and the carpets still had their original plastic covering, save for one hole under the throttle pedal where he had indulged his deepest XJ 220 fantasies.

Automobiles T.S. of Paris looked after the car, and, although I didn’t see it, Toni Sisinni said that the brakes, wheels and tires show no wear and have never been changed.

The costs of a sedentary life

Although the purchase price still looks a bargain for a car of such huge capabilities, there’s more to spend.

Don Law Racing in Staffordshire is the world’s foremost 220 specialist shop, and there were 22 cars in for service from all over the world in early 2015.

“Any 220 that’s not been run or serviced for a while will need £20,000 [$30k-plus] spending on it,” Law said. “£10k of that is for a major service including belts and to change the fuel tank, which is an emissions-control item lifed at five years, and the rest is going through the car and changing safety-related items, such as main fuel pump, fuel and brake hoses, master cylinders and so on. Would you want to drive a car with 20-year-old rubber seals?”

On the 220, the engine has to come out for the two-year service, which includes cam belts and clutch and costs £5800, plus VAT of 20% in England, which puts the total around the thick end of $11,000.

A bargain at the price

On the auction day, this car neatly split the upper and lower estimates. Although 220s are slowly catching up with their original sticker prices, they are still nowhere near the price of an F40 or even an Anniversary Countach, although they have overtaken the Diablo — which won’t be appreciating any time soon.

All this tells us that if you want an eyeball-peelingly fast icon of the 1990’s (complete with very Rover Group-vintage swathes of neutral-tone leather and velour inside), the time is now. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Artcurial Motorcars.)

Comments are closed.