Jaguar XJ220: Once the world’s fastest car, now a strong value buy?

Photograph Courtesy Jaguar

Want a rad-era supercar that sells for less than others in its class, is easier to work on than its contemporaries, and was once the world’s fastest car? Consider the Jaguar XJ220. With fewer than 300 made, this rare find can be called a bargain for what it offers.

Look at everything else that it would be compared to,” says Matthew Ivanhoe of The Cultivated Collector. “Ferrari F40. Porsche 959. Bugatti EB 110. Lamborghini Diablo SE30. Every single one of them sells for well into the seven figures.”

Plus, the Jaguar XJ220 has something those supercars don’t: a place in the “Guinness World Records” book. From 1994 to ’99, the book listed the Jaguar’s top speed of 217.1 mph as the world’s fastest for a production car–and that was with a 3.5-liter V6.

With fewer cylinders also comes less complexity. That theme pervades throughout the Jaguar XJ220. “They are not supremely difficult to work on,” Matthew says. “That’s not something I would say for its in-period competition.”

Rare. Fast. Relatively easy to maintain. So why aren’t car collectors buying up these cars in droves? “It has nothing to do with the actual car itself,” Matthew says, but the name on the valve cover. “At the end of the day, the fact that this is a Jag is the factor that prevented it from reaching the heights of its competition.”

Regardless of the value of the brand, sale prices for the car have been on the rise the past couple of years–from a few hundred grand to a solid half-million. Maybe sports car enthusiasts are beginning to discover how much of a hidden gem the Jaguar XJ220 is.–J.A. Ackley

Shopping Advice

Matthew Ivanhoe
The Cultivated Collector

They’re pretty bulletproof as far as a supercar. If anything mechanical needs attention, it’s not rocket science.

It’s not unreasonable to recommission one of these cars–but it’s not cheap. It’s still cheaper, though, than its contemporaries.

There are some proprietary parts, but Jaguar Classic has a lot of what you need.

The biggest factor of all? Cosmetics. The Jaguar XJ220s were nicely built, and getting a car back to that state may be impossible. Certain replacement trim pieces and other things of that nature won’t be the same as something that was well taken care of. Once it’s on record that a car has had bad cosmetics, you can’t come back from that.

A lot of these cars have had bodywork done. The XJ220 drives and feels like a small car but is actually large. Many were backed into things.

Prioritize condition, condition, condition–not mileage. There have been cars presented with 2000 kilometers and the bodies were wavy, the finish had orange peel and the seats looked like they had 20,000 kilometers on them. Walk away from those–you can’t trust them. I’d rather have an honest car with some rock chips in the paint and 25,000 kilometers on the odometer.

Putting a catalyst-free exhaust on these cars picks up around 50 horsepower and makes them sound much cooler. The stock XJ220 is too quiet.

The XJ220 is a thrilling yet comfortable car. The seats are good for long rides. The a/c works. Its suspension is not punishing.

The XJ220 looks just as impressive now as it did when it was new. It’s not one of those cars you’d consider “pretty good for its time.” No, it’s good, period. There are few better values out there for landmark supercars.

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Comments
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/17/24 12:36 p.m.

Oddly, since we first published this, I have recently seen two in the flesh: Mecum’s Kissimmee sale and the New York auto show. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/17/24 1:24 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Oddly, since we first published this, I have recently seen two in the flesh: Mecum’s Kissimmee sale and the New York auto show. 

I think that's what people call "a sign."

If we get everyone to pitch in a few dollars...

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