The 1990s were an exciting time for automotive design. Engineers were really starting to push the envelope of performance thanks to a better understandings of aerodynamics and computer-aided design. From 1984 to 1994, the title of “World’s Fastest Production Car” changed hands six different times! One of these victories was claimed by one of my favorite supercars from this era: the 1994 Jaguar XJ220.
From 1992 to 1994, the XJ220 was the fastest production car in the world. The car achieved a top speed of 212.3 mph at Italy’s Nardo test track in 1992. It topped out at 217.1 mph on a subsequent run with the catalytic converters removed and the rev limiter increased. The XJ220 also held the record for the fastest production car lap at Germany’s Nurburgring test track from 1992 through 2000. So yeah, Jaguar knows a thing or two about going fast.
Today, this car (one of just 281 produced) sits quietly in a carpeted room at the Imperial Palace hotel in Las Vegas. Looking upon the car’s long, low-slung body, it’s not hard to imagine this silver bullet setting a world record.
There’s more to the XJ220 than just raw speed. It’s got a unique body made of hand-formed aluminum. In spite of the car’s large size, it is fairly lightweight, tipping the scales at approximately 3,200 lbs. The 542-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine is also highly efficient, and the car can achieve a remarkable 32 miles per gallon when driven sensibly.
Of course, the XJ220 isn’t a car for sensible people. The price to get your hands on one of these cars was around $580,000 brand new. Some of the first buyers included pop superstar Elton John and the Sultan of Brunei, an oil-rich kingdom in the Middle East.
Only three XJ220s have come up for auction at Barrett-Jackson in the last decade, with two of the cars crossing the block twice. They have sold for as little as $150,000 and as much as $313,000 – quite a discount considering the car’s original price and its rarity!
The Jaguar XJ220 was a car ahead of its time. It is a marvel of engineering. It was Jaguar’s first engine to use forced induction, and I believe their only production car with a mid-mounted engine. This car can still hang with (or beat) many of today’s supercars which are twenty years newer. Now that’s impressive!