In the early 1980s, motor racing’s international governing body, the FIA, unveiled a new formula for rallying and sports car racing to replace the old Group 4 and Group 5 regulations. The new Group B formula required a production of just 200 cars for homologation and had limited restrictions on materials, weight and boost for turbocharged cars. Most enthusiasts are familiar with the flame-spitting monsters that ruled the rally stages of the era, but Group B was also intended to encompass international sports car endurance racing. Several manufacturers committed to the formula before it was swiftly canceled in the light of the deaths of drivers, co-drivers and spectators in rallying. Porsche had already begun development on the 959 as had Ferrari with the 288 GTO Evoluzione. Jaguar had a particular interest in the sports racing side of Group B as they had won LeMans multiple times in the 1950s and revived their program via Tom Walkinshaw Racing with the XJR series of Group C sports prototypes. In spite of their successes on track, some at Jaguar felt the Group C cars were too far removed from Jaguar’s road cars. Group B gave them an opportunity to create a road legal sports car that could compete and possibly win at LeMans – continuing the legacy set by the C-Type and D-Type.
Jaguar’s director of engineering, Jim Randle headed a small team working in secret, after hours, to develop a concept. By this point, Group B had been canceled but the team pressed on regardless. The initial concept was for a V12 powered, four-wheel-drive supercar built using space-age lightweight materials. The concept car was completed and shown at the British Motor Show for 1988, to tremendous fanfare. 1,400 customers left deposits of 50,000GBP and production plans were set in motion. Jaguar enlisted Tom Walkinshaw Racing to develop the production car as they did not have the resources to do it themselves. From the onset, the XJ220 faced challenges. First and foremost was the size: The concept was enormous and the combination of the V12 engine and four-wheel-drive made the car immensely overweight and far too long for the road. So a decision was made to ditch the V12 in favor of a twin-turbocharged version of the 3.5 liter V6 developed by TWR for the Group B MG Metro 6R4. The upside was the smaller engine made an astounding 542 horsepower. The rear wheels were driven via a robust 5-speed transaxle supplied by FF Developments. The resulting car was briefly the fastest production car ever produced, eclipsing the 959 and F40 with a 217.1 mph top speed. The body is both beautiful and functional, producing tremendous downforce at speed. The XJ220-C did get to LeMans, winning the GT Class in 1993 only to have their victory tossed out on a technicality; an occurrence that epitomized the greater project which was fraught with production delays, spiraling costs and unsold stock.
This gorgeous 1994 XJ220 is one of a handful of examples that found their way Stateside. It has covered a mere 1,600 KM from new (only 994 miles!) and has benefitted from recent comprehensive servicing by Muncie Imports, the only XJ220 specialists in the USA. These cars were very well built and nicely finished from new, and were positively luxurious in comparison to an F40. This example retains it fine original gray leather, showing just a small amount of wear on the driver’s outer bolster but otherwise remaining in excellent condition, and the LeMans blue paintwork is beautiful. The factory issue Alpine audio system is intact as are the original tools such as the center-lock wheel nut. In addition to the original tools, the previous owner has acquired a full set of service pads (custom tailored pads that protect the alloy panels during service) as well as factory service and parts manuals and a Jaguar Heritage Certificate.
As part of the recent comprehensive service by Muncie Imports, the critical fuel cell replacement service was performed. This highly specialized service is necessary for all XJ220s as they surpass 20 years of age, and is a very important factor when considering Jaguar’s supercar for purchase. As well as the fuel cell replacement, timing belts were changed along with rebuilt brake calipers and cylinders, cam cover gaskets and assorted seals and oil hoses, totaling over $120,000 in parts and labor.
Few XJ220s available have such comprehensive service performed, particularly with so few miles. The fastidious previous owner has kept this car in outstanding order and it is now ready to be driven and enjoyed. The incredible performance of the XJ220 has to be experienced first-hand to be fully appreciated, yet it can also be quite docile and easy to drive. With this truly outstanding low mileage example, the new owner can feel confident to enjoy the mind-altering performance without worry.