“In fact, by the time we got to Le Mans pre-qualifying, it was pretty scary and tail-happy – not to mention slow. A much bigger rear wing was fitted for the race, all of a sudden bringing the car to life – but even then, the week was far from straightforward. Despite a variety of dramas, we fought back against all odds to win our class."
50 Jaguar XJ200s to assemble at Silverstone Classic
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It’s 25 years since Jaguar introduced its XJ220 supercar. At the time the mid-engined two-seater was the fastest production car in the world, at 212.3 mph, and cost a not inconsiderable £470,000 (NZ$850,000).
Jaguar made only 271 XJ220s between 1992 and 1994 in conjunction with its motorsport partner Tom Walkinshaw Racing. Such is their rarity that no more than a handful have been seen together – until this July 29, that is, when the Silverstone Classic will feature a parade of 50 examples.
The Jaguar XJ220 showcase will take place on the Saturday of the event, with a parade lap involving some specially invited guests who have close associations with the car’s design, development and on-track success.
Although originally conceived to feature a V12 engine plus four-wheel-drive, the production version had a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 developing 542bhp, delivered to the rear transaxle via a five-speed manual gearbox.
A racing version called the XJ220-C was introduced in 1993 to compete in the increasingly important GT class within international sports car races. Later that year, one of these factory-entered cars driven by David Brabham, David Coulthard and John Nielsen won the GT category at Le Mans, only to be controversially excluded by the French organisers.
Brabham said: “When I first saw the XJ220, I must admit I thought it was a sexy-looking beast, but as soon as we started testing it transpired to be difficult to drive."
“To represent Jaguar at Le Mans was already something very cool, and to be on the podium after the race was amazing. My brother was one of the overall race winners with Peugeot, so it was a particularly special moment for the Brabham family, celebrating a double victory."
“And then, of course, we got disqualified...”
Don Law, of XJ220 specialist Don Law Racing, said: “We are inviting all XJ220 owners from around the world to join us for what will be a really special celebration of an often overlooked supercar.
“We will be bringing along some special models including the Martini car and the MIRA crash test car, and we are also hoping to have one of the factory Le Mans cars here. The largest public gathering of XJ220s in the UK to-date is 20 – our aim for this summer’s Classic is to at least double that.”
Nick Wigley, CEO of event organiser, Goose Live Events, said: “The Classic now has quite a reputation for staging these record-breaking parades but, even by our own very high standards, this promises to be something very, very special.
“It all really started in 2011 with the remarkable cavalcade of 767 E-types, which still holds an official Guinness World Record for a parade of Jaguars. Since then, we’ve seen massive numbers of Aston Martins, Porsche 911s, Ferrari F40s, Ford Mustangs and even grand prix cars all take to the track – and this year, we will add never-before-seen numbers of XJ220s to that incredible roster.”