1993 Jaguar XJ220C Le Mans
Year of manufacture1993
Under temporary importation in Europe
Chassis no. 003
- Entered twice in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Led its category for several hours
- Built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing
- Magnificently preserved and restored to its original specification
The relationship between Tom Walkinshaw Racing and Jaguar dated back to the 1980s, when TWR successfully prepared the XJS for the World Touring Car Championship and the famous Group 44. In the process, it was thanks to TWR that Jaguar won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1988 and 1990, with its XJR-8 and XJR-12.
So when Jaguar introduced its XJ220 supercar, Walkinshaw lost no time in developing a competition version to compete in the GT category at Le Mans. The XJ220 C (for 'Competition') was produced in just eight months, for the 1993 24 Hours race. Among other changes, the car's weight was reduced with carbon fibre body parts, while the aerodynamics were improved to suit race conditions. The engine was the twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 already used in the XJR-10 and XJR-11 prototypes: it was a proven unit, which could produce up to 800 bhp. For the XJ220 C, its output was limited to 500 to 680 bhp, depending on how it was used.
For Le Mans, TWR assembled three cars, with the chassis numbers 001 (race number 51), 002 (race number 50) and 003 (race number 52). 001 was assigned to Win Percy, Armin Hahne and David Leslie, 002 to David Brabham (Jack's son), John Nielsen and David Coulthard, and 003 to Paul Belmondo, Jay Cochran and Andreas Fuchs. It is chassis no. 003 which we are offering for sale today.
In the GT category, the Jaguars were up against the numerous and dominant Porsche 911 Carreras and Turbos and the French Venturis. For outright victory, the battle would be fought between Peugeot, Toyota and Porsche.
Well prepared, the Jaguars stood up to the Porsches and 002 posted the second best time, within a second of the fastest Porsche GT. For TWR, there were a few incidents during testing, as was only to be expected in the run-up to such an important race: 001's engine overheated and had to be replaced, while 003 lost its rear engine cover on the track.
For the race itself, Tom Walkinshaw was unable to stay in Le Mans, as he had to attend the races in Indianapolis, where several XJ220s were competing. He therefore handed over the race management to Roger Silman.
Belmondo took the wheel first in car 003, and just over an hour into the race, the Jaguars were leading the GT category. At 9.30PM, 002 had a lead of two laps over the most menacing Porsche, driven by Hans Stuck, Walter Röhrl and Hurley Haywood, but the Porsche retired unexpectedly after nightfall, following a collision with the Debora-Alfa Romeo.
The three Jaguars lapped consistently, with cars 002 and 003 leading the category, but the first problems arose at 5AM, when the fuel tank had to be changed on 002. 003 then took the lead among the GTs. Five hours from the finish, however, while Fuchs was driving, a tyre burst and caused a violent spin at high speed. While the driver gathered his wits, the engine temperature went up, and on his return to the pits the mechanics found a crack in the cylinder head gasket. The race was over for 003.
002 therefore inherited the lead in the GT category, holding onto its position until the finish: Jaguar had won the GT category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans!
Unfortunately, the manufacturer would subsequently be disqualified for failing to run with catalytic converters, despite the cars conforming to IMSA regulations, which were normally accepted by the ACO.
Belmondo, whom we interviewed about the race, told us: "At the time, I was a test driver for Benetton [the F1 team managed by TWR], and Tom Walkinshaw asked me to drive at Le Mans. We were leading the category when the blow-out occurred and then had the overheating problem which caused us to retire. It was another Jaguar which won the category, and when it was later disqualified, Walkinshaw told us, "It's not a big deal, what everyone will remember will be the podium at the finish!"
Car 003's career was not yet over. After being bought by Tony Brooks (the namesake of the F1 driver), cars 001 and 003 were entered at Le Mans in 1995. The first car, race number 58, was assigned to Win Percy, Bernard Thuner and Olindo Iacobelli, while chassis no. 003 (race number 57) was in the hands of Richard Piper, James Weaver and Tiff Needell. But both cars had to retire: 001 when it spun off the track and 003 due to a mechanical problem.
Since then, this Jaguar XJ220 C has not raced again. Purchased by a Japanese enthusiast, it underwent a complete restoration to its 1993 specification by the English specialist Don Law. The car was completely stripped down, and the engine and body checked over and refurbished as required. Today, therefore, the car is in immaculate condition and is eligible for the most prestigious historic events.
This is a vehicle which has an important place in history: from a prestigious manufacturer, the car was prepared and run by one of the most respected engineering firms in its field. It took part twice in the greatest endurance race in the world, where it led its category for a few hours, and has been preserved undamaged ever since. These qualities are hardly ever found together in a competition vehicle of this calibre.
Lot from outside the EU: Customs duties of 10% will be levied on the total hammer price excluding taxes. VAT, at the current rate of 20%, will be calculated on the basis of the hammer price plus the customs duties mentioned above.
Participating in the auction on this lot is subject to a special registration process. If you would like to bid on this lot, please get in touch with the bidding office or the motorcars department at least 48 hours before the sale
For more information and photos: https://www.artcurial.com/fr/lot-1993-jaguar-xj220-c-le-mans-3980-113
Photos © Rémi Dargegen