Pick of the Day: 1994 Jaguar XJ220, a short-lived top-speed-record holder

This very-low-mileage example of the spectacular British supercar is fully serviced and ready to go

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The XJ220 is a gloriously styled mid-engine supercar

Supercar records are interesting yet sometimes frustrating. Just when one automaker creates a car that claims the mantle of fastest car in the world, another company somehow releases another one that is faster.

The situation is well-illustrated by the Pick of the Day, a 1994 Jaguar XJ220, a spectacular mid-engine sports coupe that all too briefly held the top-speed record for a production car.

This Jaguar is finished in the rare combination of Le Mans Blue over Grey leather, and is completely road ready with total mileage of 1,199 miles from new, according to the St. Louis, Missouri, dealer advertising the Jag on ClassicCars.com.

The original XJ220 concept car was completed at 3 am on October 18, 1988, which was the same day it was to be unveiled at the British International Motor Show. It was placed on the Jaguar stand at 6 am and unveiled at 11 am. How’s that for being just in the nick of time?

Jaguar’s marketing department had set up space on their stand for the XJ220 but had not even seen the car until its arrival. The car was extremely well-received by the press, and a number of Jaguar enthusiasts handed over blank checks to guarantee the option of buying the car if it actually went into production.

Compared with the XJ220, Ferrari’s display of the new F40 at the same show was viewed as lukewarm.  An estimated 90,000 additional show visitors came to see the XJ220.

Then things changed. The XJ220 was supposed to have a V12 engine behind its seats, but by the time production began, the engine was changed to a 3,498cc 542-horsepower twin-turbo V6 produced by TWR. That put off a lot of prospective buyers, some to the point of filing lawsuits, and it immediately put a black cloud over the XJ220.

Despite the smaller engine, the XJ220 when launched in 1992 had a top speed of 217 mph, which set a world record for a production car.

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But then the competition, in the form of McLaren, revealed the iconic F1, which when launched in 1992 had a top speed of more than 231 mph, soundly breaking the XJ220s record while reducing the halo Jaguar to a mere footnote in supercar history.

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As a result, the McLaren F1, if you can even find one for sale, has an average price in excess of $15 million while the XJ220 can be bought for a fraction of that amount. For a buyer, the XJ220 looks like an absolute bargain in comparison.

This XJ220 seems like a good one, which despite its miniscule mileage has had all its critically important services completed, including a recent fuel-cell bladder replacement – an expensive Achilles heel for this model – and engine-belt service, according to the seller.

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Having these pricey but important service items done means the next owner will not have to shell out 10s of thousands of dollars to have them completed. The sale includes all books, service history and tools, the dealer notes.

Jaguar produced a total of 283 chassis for the XK220. but only 280 cars were built. That is very low production, with the rarity making the values for these cars seem even more like a bargain. McLaren F1 production was only 106 cars, but does that make it worth 30 times more than the XJ220?

I have driven two McLaren F1s and three different XJ220s, and the difference from behind the wheel is significant. The F1 is bare bones inside, much like a Ferrari F40, where the Jaguar is a luxurious place to be, with leather everywhere, comfortable seating for two, even a decent Alpine stereo. In addition, the F1 is a carbon-fiber car, where the XJ220 is made of honeycombed aluminum.

Sure, the XJ220 is not as fast as an F1, but it’s still plenty fast, and it has a nicer interior, excellent build quality, low production and a high level of exclusivity.  The asking price is $495,900 for this apparently fine preserved example.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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