Will new shoes power the Jaguar XJ220 into a new realm of collectibility?
A difficult gestation period and under-endowed engine aside, the Jaguar XJ220 boasted credentials that should have since seen it prosper alongside its contemporary peers, namely the Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 and McLaren F1. But while these have ridden off into the sunset in terms of modern-day values, Jaguar’s 1990s supercar has been left languishing behind – despite its legacy of once being the fastest car in the world (only unseated by the McLaren), the first 500bhp+ production car and the lap record holder for a production model at the Nordschleife for almost a decade. The reason? The four rather girthy black circles at each corner.
A welcome birthday present
Until now, the real-life prospect of reaching the XJ220’s official 217mph top speed – or even using the car occasionally – has been a dim one, as the unusually sized tyres that the car required (255/45ZR17 front and a massive 345/55/ZR18 rear) went out of production long ago. As a result, the remaining 270-or-so examples out there are wearing two-decade-old rubber, a sobering deterrent for anyone in the market for an analogue-era supercar.
To remedy the problem, two of the XJ220’s biggest devotees – Jaguar Classic and Don Law Racing – have respectively collaborated with Pirelli and Bridgestone to develop their own sets of bespoke tyres to be launched in 2017, the car’s 25th anniversary year. Both will make use of the latest tyre technology: Jaguar Classic’s Pirelli will be a P Zero design that incorporates the appearance of the old rubber, but with new compounds and technologies that lessen noise, improve control and comfort, and even boast internal damping within the tyre. While not factory-approved, the effort from Bridgestone (which made the original tyres) was co-developed with Don Law Racing with assistance from the original chief development engineer and test driver, and used an original pre-production model as a testbed. With two new pairs of shoes to choose from for its silver anniversary festivities, might the big cat finally be able to celebrate its coming-of-age in the collector car market?