1993 Jaguar XJ 220 Coupe
Courtesy of Bonhams
The words “supercar” and “sensational” are often to be found in conjunction, and no more justifiably so than in the case of Jaguar’s fabulous XJ 220. Worthy successor to the multiple Le Mans-winning C-type and D-type Jaguars of the 1950s, the XJ 220 grabbed the headlines just as its illustrious forebears had done in previous decades, when the prototype burst upon an astonished world in 1988. A planned limited-production run of a minimum of 220 and a maximum of 350 cars, combined with an eventual VAT-inclusive price tag of nearly £403,000 ($700,000), only served to further ensure the XJ 220’s exclusivity. Interest was intense, and almost 1,500 orders were received. Jaguar then had the task of allocating cars to those privileged few customers that it considered worthy of ownership. Changed economic circumstances mean that many of those who had paid the £50,000 ($75,000) deposit were unable to take delivery. The production XJ 220 was officially launched at the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show, and when production ended in 1994, approximately 275 examples had been built. Planning for Jaguar’s proposed 200-mph supercar had begun in the mid-1980s and finally bore fruit when the prototype was exhibited at the U.K. Motor Show in 1988. The XJ 220 survived Ford’s takeover of Jaguar the following year, but when the car entered production in 1992 it was a very different beast. Gone was the prototype’s 6.2-liter V12 engine, replaced by a Cosworth-designed, 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V6 as used in the XJR-11 sports racer, while other casualties of the need to simplify the design for production included the prototype’s four-wheel drive and adaptive suspension. Producing no less than 542 bhp, the stupendous twin-turbo V6 engine enabled the XJ 220 to meet its 200-mph-plus design target. F1 driver Martin Brundle recorded a speed of over 217 mph during track testing. The 0–100 mph time was a staggering 7.9 seconds. Quicker than both the Ferrari F40 and Lamborghini Diablo, the XJ 220 was the world’s fastest production car until the arrival of the McLaren F1. The XJ 220 was constructed around a bonded and riveted monocoque chassis formed from lightweight, corrosion-resistant, aluminum-alloy sheet re-enforced by aluminum honeycomb sections in highly stressed areas. Similarly race-derived was the double-wishbone suspension, adapted to provide acceptable comfort under road conditions, while other competition-influenced features were the AP Racing brakes, Speedline aluminum alloy wheels (17-inch diameter at the front, 18-inch at the rear) and FF Developments’ 5-speed, all-synchromesh transaxle with a viscous-control, limited-slip differential. A left-hand-drive model finished in the subtle combination of Le Mans Blue with Smoke Grey leather interior, XJ 220 Chassis 871 was the 31st example produced. According to Jaguar-Daimler Heritage Trust records (on file), this car was delivered new on January 4, 1993, to its first owner in Rome, Italy. Obviously very well preserved and maintained in original condition, it currently displays a total of only some 8,000 kilometers (4,970 miles) on the odometer. A landmark model in Jaguar’s illustrious history, the XJ 220 is still the company’s fastest-ever production car some 25 years on. As such, it remains highly collectible, being sought after by Jaguar aficionados and supercar collectors alike. Boasting gorgeous looks and tremendous performance, this beautiful XJ 220 represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of the most significant supercars of its era.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1993 Jaguar XJ 220 coupe
Years Produced:1992–94
Number Produced:275 to 281, depending on your source
Original List Price:£403,000 ($700,000)
Tune Up Cost:Full service at Don Law Racing, $10,000
Chassis Number Location:Plate on firewall and stamped into chassis leg
Engine Number Location:Left side of engine near gearbox flange
Alternatives:1990–98 (pre-facelift) Lamborghini Diablo, 1998–99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage V600, 2005–11 Bugatti Veyron 16.4

This car, Lot 30, sold for $457,744 (€391,000/£349,495), including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Zoute Sale in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, on October 6, 2017.

The last time I saw this car in person, it sold in London in 2014 (by RM) for $267,000, which then was £165,200, with 6,799 km (4,224 miles) recorded.

It was very well preserved — the seats looked hardly sat in — just the usual few small creases in the leather at the edges of the bolsters and on the center console. You couldn’t help noticing that the steering wheel looks rather homemade, as usual.

This is 031, s/n SAJJEAEX8AX220871, although the sill-plate numbers don’t directly correlate to the order in which they were made. It was made in November 1992 and delivered to its first owner in Rome on January 4, 1993.

Now, just over 1,200 km (745 miles) later — and with a major service behind it — it’s much the same story, although perhaps with a few more creases on the driver’s outer seat bolster. The big difference is that, in pounds at least, the price has almost doubled, although it was sold in euros this time.

A great road car

The funny thing about the XJ 220, is that, for all their much-vaunted width, they are quite usable on the road. The cackling V6 pumps more adrenaline than the originally planned (and likely much heavier) V12.

Although 542 bhp was stupendous in its day, and still in front of an Ferrari F40, the current crop of 5-liter V12 supercars from Aston and Ferrari have caught up. They will certainly out-accelerate the 220, if not best it on top end.

The steep costs of rare speed

Right after its sale in London in September 2014, it was sent to Don Law Racing for a full service. Don is the world’s leading XJ 220 specialist, with cars coming to his Staffordshire premises for service and repair from all over the world.

He told me this in 2015: “Any 220 that’s not been run for a while will need £20,000 (then $30k, now nearer $27k) spending on it. £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.”

As he said, “Would you want to drive a car with 20-year-old rubber seals?”

This time, Don Law Racing’s bill was $38k, from which we might surmise that everything was done, evidenced by the fittings and elbows on the fuel piping being new blue anodized items, where they were red/blue in 2014. Thing is, though it’s only covered about 745 miles since, the major service interval is two years, so technically it’s due another. Because that includes changing the cam belts and clutch, the engine has so come out, bringing the cost up to the thick end of $10k.

A supercar on the rise

Mark Donaldson, who’s selling XJ 220 chassis 220840, a right-hand-drive, as-yet-unregistered car with just 173 miles — POA, but think in the region of $650k — said, “Historically I found them fascinating when my dad (Ian Donaldson, then trading as Oakfields) was the lone crusader of them. What was amazing was the amount of people who were genuinely obsessed with them yet didn’t otherwise necessarily have other comparable cars.

“An F40 is frankly easier to drive, sounds better and has more entry room and better vision,” Donaldson said. “Lower the seat on a 220, and it’s a game-changer, and the brakes are no better or worse than F40 — people used to upgrade F40 brakes too.

“The other reason the F40 is double the money is due to lineage. The 220 has nothing prior or subsequent, so for serial marque collectors there’s no logic to add one.”

Given that Donaldson’s effectively new and unused car will represent the top of the market, the price paid here was broadly in line with the 220’s steady increase in value, on both sides of the Atlantic (and both sides of the English Channel) — plus a bit, as at Zoute it went $50k over estimate.

We’ll have to wait for a few more sales to see whether that’s a blip or a trend, and that shouldn’t take long. There have been plenty brought to market in the past three years, ever since values picked up after 20 years rubbing along the bottom of the graph.

These 200-mph-plus supercars are slowly catching up with their original £403k (then $700k) sticker price. Although they overtook the Diablo a while back, they are still nowhere near the price of an F40, and a fraction of a McLaren F1. Can almost $500,000 be described as a bargain?

In this case, yes. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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