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XJ220 Prototype
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1988
Numbers built:1
Introduced at:1988 Birmingham Motor Show
Designed by:Geoff Lawson for Jaguar
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 17, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIts competition flame rekindled by the factory supported privateer efforts from Group 44 in North America and TWR in Europe, Jaguar began exploring the possibility of a production based racing car in the mid-1980s. Built to Group B specification, this supercar would be able to take on the might of Ferrari (288 GTO and the subsequent F40) and Porsche (959 / 961) on the road and track. When the Group B class was binned, Jaguar's engineers quietly worked on with the spectacular 'XJ220' show car launched at the 1988 Birmingham Motor Show as the final result.

By this time the racing plans were all but forgotten and Jaguar's first 'super car' served to celebrate the recent successes in the World Sports Car Championship and at Le Mans with the V12-engined XJR-9 Jaguars. Accordingly, the XJ220 Prototype featured a twelve cylinder engine derived from the XJR unit. In fact the 6.2 litre V12 was more sophisticated with a twin-cam, four valve per cylinder head. This configuration was also tried on the racing cars but deemed too heavy. In XJ220 guise, it produced around 500 bhp, which was on par with the performance of the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959. Just like the latter, the XJ220 Prototype sported all-wheel drive with a front/rear torque split of 31/69.

Unlike the all carbon composite XJRs, the XJ220 featured a bonded aluminium chassis. Suspension was also competition inspired with double wishbones and push-rod actuated dampers. The potent package was clothed in an aluminium body penned by Jaguar's chief designer Geoff Lawson. His design was very slippery with curvaceous lines, pop-up headlights and a 'Kamm' tail. Like the contemporary sports racers, the XJ220 featured underbody aerodynamics, developing considerable amount of downforce. In good Jaguar tradition, the 220 in the name referred to the potential top speed in miles per hour.

When the XJ220 was launched in Birmingham, Jaguar stressed that it was 'just' a show car and that there were no firm production plans. Interested parties were told that would the super car become available, it would be priced at around 250,000 Pounds. Well over a year after the launch, in December 1989, Jaguar finally revealed that the XJ220 would be built in a limited run of 220 examples with the possibility to go up to 350 if there was enough demand. Assigned to further develop and construct the XJ220 was JaguarSport, the joint venture of Jaguar Cars and Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) that also ran the competition program.

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  Article Image gallery (7) Specifications