Jaguar XJ220 prototype

What binds car enthusiasts to one another? A love for cars, certainly, but we'd argue there's a deeper psychological connection. Namely that we've never quite grown up, and don't really care to. We're all still the little boys we once were, hanging posters of our favorite supercars on the walls of our childhood bedrooms. The only way to convince us of the reality of our own age is to show us how old the then-new supercars we pined for as kids have now become. So it's with a big lump in our collective throat that we bring you the news that the Jaguar XJ220 is now 20 years old – and along with it, that we're all 20 years older than we were when it came out.

The first time we got a glimpse of the mid-engined XJ220 was actually back in 1988 when it debuted at the British Motor Show. But that was in concept form. It wasn't until 1992 that the first customer took delivery. And while it was a fair bit different from the concept version (okay, so the drivetrain was very different, with half the cylinders and half the driven wheels of the V12 concept), what we got was still earth-shattering in its capabilities – particularly for its time, but still by any objective measure. The production XJ220 packed 550 horsepower, hit 60 in less than four seconds and hit a top speed of 213 mph... a new record in the early 90s.

By the time production ceased two years later, Jaguar and TWR had built just 275 examples. The one pictured above is one of ten pre-production prototypes, specifically the example that Andy Wallace piloted to that landmark top speed at Ford Stockton, Texas, in 1991. The yellow example (also pictured in our high-resolution image gallery) was one of the very rare XJ220 S homologation specials with carbon fiber bodywork and 700 horsepower on tap. Click the thumbnails to scope it out and follow the jump for the full press release to take a trip back to your childhood.
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Marking 20 Years Since The Launch Of The Jaguar XJ220
Monday, January 30, 2012

The XJ220 remains the fastest Jaguar ever produced and when launched in 1992 and, at 213mph, had the highest maximum speed of any production car. Constructed using advanced aluminium honeycomb, the car was immensely strong and, despite its size, weighed just 1,470 kg.

Originally conceived as a concept car, the XJ220 debuted at the 1988 British Motor Show. Designed by Keith Helfet, the car was signed off for production in December 1989 with TWR selected as the partner for the project.

Powered by a 3.5-litre, twin turbo V6, the XJ220 channelled its drive through the 18-inch Speedline rear wheels shod in specially developed 345/35 Bridgestone Expedia tyres via a five-speed gearbox and an AP Racing twin-plate clutch. The XJ220 developed 550 PS and 475 lbs ft of torque to allow it to accelerate to 60mph in under four seconds. Braking was supplied by a set of AP Racing discs and four pot callipers.

Built by hand in an all-new factory in Bloxham, Oxfordshire, prototype 001 was completed in 1990 while car 002 achieved 186 mph at Bruntingthorpe in September of the same year. The first customer car was completed in June 1992 with a retail price of £470,000.

Production ceased in 1994, by which time 275 cars had been built.

The silver car in attendance at the recent Jaguar Experience Day held at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon is chassis 004, one of 10 pre-production vehicles. This example was used for extensive tyre and high speed testing at Fort Stockton, Texas, in 1991. Andy Wallace achieved a maximum speed of 213 mph in the car during the testing process.

Once these duties were completed the car was converted to race specification and was campaigned by Justin Law in the British GT Cup. On being retired from racing it was returned to its standard, road-going specification.

The yellow car is an XJ220 S - chassis '220-803'. This is the very first XJ220 S, built using spare parts from the Le Mans cars, including single-piece carbon fibre front and rear clamshells, revised springs and dampers and a claimed 700 PS. The luxurious interior of the road car was dropped in favour of Kevlar bucket seats and pared down, carbon trim.

The car was unveiled at the Autosport Show in 1993.