Over the past couple of months, the writers here at CT HQ have been ranting about why they think their cars are the greatest lookers the universe has ever seen. Alex kicked off proceedings with the Audi Sport Quattro, before Ollie piled in with the Ferrari 288 GTO. Darren chose the Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II whilst Tom contracted Bond-fever and sidled up to the BMW Z8. Mr Hamilton then capped off proceedings with the Eagle E-Type Speedster. I'm here to tell them they're all
fired wrong. Because they appear to have 'pulled a fanboy'; throwing blindingly obvious names into the hat whilst simultaneously engaging in a stupendous circlejerk.
The raw truth is that the Jaguar XJ220 is one of the most widely underrated cars to have ever laid down tarmac on this planet. And unlike the others, I've actually experienced this Nineties hypercar in the flesh at Jaguar HQ, with a high-speed, 175mph passenger ride around their test track with speed-freak and record-breaker Andy Wallace. But first, a brief history lesson...
Announced in 1988, the idea behind this Jaaag was born from Chief Engineer Jim Randle's desire to re-capture the glory years of Jaguar racing. The concept had an exciting 6.2-litre V12 and a pair of scissor doors. The motoring magazines nearly wet themselves with excitement.
By 1992, it was clear that something was tragically wrong. Gone was the V12, and stripped out were the Lamborghini replica doors. It appeared manufacturer madness was at play. However, with help from Tom Walkinshaw Racing, Jaguar managed to get the XJ220 into production. Under the hood was a V6 with twin Garrett T3 turbochargers - capable of thrusting the car to 60mph in a rapid 3.6 seconds.
Dat ass. Despite being called a porker back in its day, take this 1,372kg and park it next to a modern-day supercar, and you'll soon realise just how much gunk we've started to tack onto our vehicles. The XJ220 sits low to the ground, with a sleek, slippery side profile. Watch one roar past in the opposite direction and you'll be convinced you've just seen a Thunderbirds racer.
Even a Murcielago LP640 will struggle to match it for sheer presence. The XJ220's nose is simple and clean, whilst it hangs its square arse out sans embarrassment. Two large vents help to suck in air to cool the mid-mounted engine block which sits behind the cabin. And even at idle, there's enough to keep all your senses engaged: the whiff of petrol, the thrum of the engine penetrating the cabin, and a persistent vibration rumbling through your midriff.
There's no such thing as the perfect car. The XJ220 suffers from two issues, the first being the bland interior. While the leather seats are comfortable, they're about as useful in a tight corner as Joey Essex is with a washing machine. And then there's the immense turbo lag. It's almost comical the way pegging third produces nada until revs creep past 4,000rpm. Then, it's like someone's lit a fire under its buttocks.
The Jaguar XJ220 isn't just a striking hypercar, it's also a heavyweight title holder. Er, fastest production car in the world from 1992 to 1998 anyone?
But by far the greatest weapon in its arsenal is the hypercar's ability to look fast whilst standing still. Few others produced in that era achieve the same results from aero-induced styling. And the XJ's designer, Keith Helfet, made sure there were no unnecessary extras: “I didn’t want flame surfacing and feature lines, but shapes that made sense.”
And so for all the reasons above, I think the Jaguar XJ220 is the best looking car ever. Period.
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