XJ220 on "Jay Leno's Garage"

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jay so excited about a car before … He just can’t say enough good things about it … :joy:


Very interesting that Leno claims that the reason Jag did “downsize” the engine from the proposed V-12 to the turbo V-6 was due to the tire technology at the time not being able to supply tires that would support the weight of a V-12 that also had all-wheel drive (although Jag also downsized that feature from the proposed all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive). Dan Demuro seems to state otherwise though in his lengthy review of the car … So which is correct? :confused: Jay also says something about the tires being custom made for the car and integral with the wheels, or some such, and therefore that’s why it is virtually impossible to get replacement tires for the model. :open_mouth:

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@solly should be able to help with those questions s.

This is an OLD video…………
Jay is correct as Jay and Myself were actually born when the car was created.
The rest is revisionist history.
I almost pulled the trigger but ………I bought an DB4 and Maserati 3500 instead.
I don’t like having something that only 1 or 2 people can fix around the world.
I still think its neat but like almost ALL modern supercars…they become a burden.
IMHO Who has owned many.

Doug Demuro is nothing more than a guy who researches a car online, finds one at a dealer to video and talks about it as if he knows everything! I do NOT know WHY some think he is an authority in what he says! Jay Leno is the a REAL car enthusiast that loves cars; owns them and KNOWS about what he says!

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I have nothing against him personally , Ive never met him in person but I agree.
He bought an 05/06 GT that is now 15 years old, went on and on about its already on a flat bed and it was a dead battery.
One of the most BULLET PROOF cars ever made .
So I agree………

Jay Leno is a decade older than I am and I was born in 1957, the xj220 concept was created in 1988 as a show car, so I’m confused about your statement that you and Jay were born when this car was created.

Yes, it’s expensive, but totally untrue that only 1 or 2 people around the world can fix it. Now that my car has been disassembled, and after reading the service manual and helping with the disassembly, it’s actually not a hard car to fix at all. It’s a simple but heavily reinforced aluminum 90 degree V-6 (cast iron cylinder liners) with one T3 turbo on each bank, controlled by a primitive but robust Zytek ecu. This engine was built to handle a ton of boost. I was up at the shop yesterday and gave Mike a hand removing the suspension, alternator, water pumps, fuel pumps, starter, and everything else that is going out to be rebuilt or cleaned. Now that I’ve seen the guts, my Ferraris have much more complex engines (except the pre-ecu Dino 246GTS). My daily driver STi is more complicated. The XJ220 is a straightforward engine once it’s out of the car. Anyone who’s worked on cars for a while and doesn’t mind reading a few manuals could work on this car. And there is so much room in the engine bay that unless you are changing the fuel cell (engine out), pretty much everything else is easily accessible through the top or bottom.

What was hard initially was getting parts. Because Don Law took over for TWR with Jaguar’s blessing, they got all the spares and the rights to reproduce parts, and the contracts with outside suppliers in the UK. They also got agreements with Premier who made the original fuel cell to only sell to Don Law, and bought the XH21 transaxle oil formula from Castrol and had Morris Oil reproduce it. And Don Law refuses to sell anything, he wants all the cars shipped to him.

So: After a few months of research I now have every part we need for a complete rebuild (except the engine which doesn’t need anything, but is getting new turbos). TWR, being a race shop and not a car manufacturer like Jaguar, utilized the best parts they could find from any supplier. So the pumps are all Bosch (the lifter pump in-tank is same as Jaguar E-type), the injectors are Bosch/Denso, the alternator is Denso, as is the starter motor. ATL is making our new fuel cell bag using the old one for measurements, and all suspension parts are going out for rebuild (shocks) and cleaning/coating.
So pretty much everything is available if you know where to look for it and now I know where to look for it. Even got tranny oil with higher EP levels than the old XH21 from Castrol (Castrol Syntrax EP, F1 cars use this). The only problem I can foresee is putting a hole in the block. Then you need to deal with Don Law. But in 40 years I have never holed a block or burnt a piston or bent a valve, and I raced some hairy cars, so I’m not particularly worried about the block. I’ll just run 110+ octane and retard timing when the boost is up on the track, and run it on pump gas at low boost on the street. I am installing an electronic boost controller with cockpit adjustment of boost levels. I may run a second Zytek ecu with a race map (700-800 bhp) so I can swap back and forth between ecus. I don’t believe the Zytek has the ability to store and switch between multiple maps, but I haven’t really gotten to play with the Zytek yet since the car is apart.

I suppose if you holed the block on a DB4 or Maser 3500 you’d be paying a big chunk of change for a new one of those, if you could find one. So the XJ220 is not hard to work on if you have some experience. It’s the parts that were hard to get without using Don Law, but we took care of that. At this point any competent mechanic could service this car. I could do it myself in my home shop but I’d be afraid of pulling the engine with no help, and it requires an engine/tranny dolly which I don’t have and don’t feel like getting, as well as another pair of hands. The only other problem you may run into is if your CEL comes on, or you need to access the ecu for some reason. Only about 24 Diagnostic Kits for the TWR cars (XJR-15, XJ220, XJRS) were made, and dealers had to cough up roughly $110,000 to buy the kit back in 1992. None were ever sent to the USA. I am aware of 1 kit in Vancouver, but the owner will not let it leave his sight, another in Nashville, Tenn. at a shop that used to be famous for working on xj220s, and I own the last one on the planet, which is available to any owner in need, but can’t be shipped because if it gets lost it’s game over. So you’ll have to come to my home in Westchester county, NY or the shop in Torrington,CT.

I’ve read every article and book on the XJ220 I could get my hands on, and spoken with some pretty knowledgeable people, including a retired engineer who worked for TWR during the xjr-15/xj220 days, and the engineer at Zytek who developed the communications protocol (the infamous Zytek Diagnostic Kit with its mysterious interface box). Here is the story as best as I can interpret it:

Jaguar built a one-off show car (initially developed by Jim Randle, Keith Helfet and the “Saturday Club” to show what it could do in the supercar/hypercar class. It was built as a response to the awd Porsche 959, as well as to compete with the Ferrari F-40. The XJ220 concept had awd (built by FF) and was powered by TWR’s race version of the 6.2 liter Jaguar V-12. This was never meant to be a production car (for example, the drive to the front wheels was via a quill drive from the rear diff, thru the “V” of the v-6, to the front diff, not exactly a production-ready car) but the response at the Birmingham 1988 auto show was so overwhelming (people offering blank checks to Jaguar on the spot-none were taken by Jaguar) that Jaguar decided on a limited run of 275-350 cars. They did not have the ability to build these cars, so they turned to their favorite race builder, Tom Walkinshaw, to build the cars. They already had a formal partnership called JaguarSport. They even built him a factory at Bloxham and an engine manufacturing plant. This is around 1989, and TWR won a lot of races for Jaguar, including LeMans in the Silk Cut car. So TWR began planning. They brought over Mike Moreton as project manager. Mike had been at Ford for 23 years, and was heavily involved in designing and producing the DFV engines. TWR quickly realized that the V-12 could never meet emissions regs for 1992 while at the same time keeping the car competitive. The big V-12 was heavy and the awd system (with rear wheel steering) was also heavy and complicated. This V-12 was being used in the very limited run XJR-15, where it only succeeded in making 450 bhp. So TWR decided to drop the awd and drop the V-12 in favor of the lighter and more powerful Group B V-6 TT which powered the XJR-10 and XJR-11. This engine was derived from the 3 liter MG Metro 6R4, but was expanded to 3.5 liters and redesigned to be much stronger (the MG Metro International rally cars made 400 bhp from an NA 3 liter car in the mid 1980’s). Mike Moreton was heavily involved in the redesign of the 6R4 into the TWR V64V, and he was a Ford DFV guy. Most contemporary sources agree that the final result was much closer to a DFV than to a 6R4. Shortly after, Group B was banned. By 1989 all these specs were laid out and were on every customer order form. The books were opened for reservations in late 1989 with deliveries to begin in 1992. It was only at this point that Jaguar began taking orders from customers. So the whole theory of “bait and switch” is ridiculous. Buyers knew they were getting a RWD V-6TT when they signed the purchase contract and wrote a deposit check for $82,000 (1990 money). Elimination of the V-12 and awd was already public knowledge.

Why only 280? why not the full 350 Jaguar wanted to produce? Unfortunately Jaguar got caught in a storm it had nothing to do with. The insane speculation of the late 1980s/early 1990s (when people put syndicates together to buy F-40s for $2M each, thinking they would sell them for a large profit) and Dinos approached the $1M range came to a crashing halt once the speculators (almost all the buyers) got hit with the double whammy of the car bubble popping at the same time a global recession hit. The speculators tried selling their contracts at a loss (the contracts were written with built in price escalations triggered by certain events. The purchase price nearly doubled between 1989 and 1992).
Many tried to sue Jaguar to get their deposits back, but Jaguar won every case because the specs were written into the contract.

So only 280 of the planned 350 were built, and as late as 1997 you could still buy a brand new xj220 for about $180,000. Many FastMasters drivers were offered their cars at $80,000.
However, let’s remember that McLaren planned on building approximately 250 F-1s in the mid-90s, but only found buyers for 106, of which roughly 2/3 were street cars with the rest being race cars. The mid-90s were no fun for supercar makers. Today McLaren F-1s are valued at $15-20M.

Tires: With the V-12 and awd, plus venturi tunnels capable of making downforce of 3,000 lbs. at 200 mph, the car got so heavy at speed that production tires could not cope with the speed, weight and temperatures. Even with the lighter engine and rwd it was still a challenge to go that fast and carry that much downforce. Bridgestone produced special tires for this car. But it is unknown whether these tires could have coped with a V-12 and awd, since it was never tested. According to most sources, the 1988 show car was not driven much (if at all). So the tires may have played a small part in changing the spec, but it was emissions and weight that killed the idea of a V-12 and awd.

Tires: Were a big problem until 2017. Imagine owning a supercar with a detuned Group B race engine, and having to drive it on tires that were over 20 years old. Dangerous. Many cars stayed in storage. The race cars ran slicks, which were and are available, but in the wrong sizes, but close enough to work with the optional BBS rims. The slicks were 335/30/18 in the rear, and 265/40/17 in the front, effectively negating the anti-oversteer setup of 345/35/18 rear and much smaller 255/45/17 front. Just watch a few episodes of FastMasters on YouTube and the cars are spinning out constantly. Having more rubber out back and less in front might contribute to light understeer, but it avoided massive oversteer which is a much bigger problem (this is solely my opinion, but there is a reason for staggered setups on oversteer-prone race cars).

In 2017 Bridgestone and Pirelli both started making tires again, so the cars are getting back on the road and getting attention. Prices as recently as 2012 were as low as $120,000 (auction result, car may have been crashed) with an average of $150,000 for a #3 car. Prices spiked 50% in 6 months, only to crash back by end of 2012. By the end of 2013 the climb started for real and shows no signs of slowing down. According to Hagerty, a #3 car today is $400,000, with a #1 concours car at almost $600,000.

Race cars: In 1993 TWR pulled 12 cars off the production line for special treatment. 3 were built as “C” race cars, with carbon fiber body panels replacing the aluminum and cutting weight by over 600 lbs. while tweaking the engines to 700-800 bhp. One of these C cars won the GT class at LeMans in 1993 with David Coulthard, only to have it’s win revoked for not having catalytic converters. The decision was overturned on appeal, and so they really, really did win, except they didn’t. The ACO decided that the appeal was filed too late and it was tossed on a technicality, but a Jaguar XJ220-C won the GT class at LeMans. 6 more cars were turned into “S” cars, road legal versions of the C cars, with carbon fiber panels and 680bhp and a huge wing out back. These were far more civilized than the C cars, with full leather, a/c, stereo system, etc.
3 more TWR race cars were built for the Italian GT series in 1993, at the behest of the Benneton family. These are XJ220-N cars (sometimes erroneously referred to as XJ220-GT cars because they ran in the Italian Gt series), and carry TWR chassis plates 001, 002 and 003. They did not get the carbon fiber treatment and big wing, but were lightened significantly, and apparently tuned to 700 bhp. The interiors are stripped, carbon/kevlar race seat, external fuel and ignition cutouts. Chassis 001 and 002 raced the entire 1993 season, the #11 race car in Martini livery (001?, and the #12 race car in white and blue livery sponsored by HAAN and a few others (002?). The #11 car came in to a podium finish every race, but always 2nd place, behind a Ferrari F-40 LM, but ahead of 5 other F-40s. The third car, chassis 003 was a backup car and never raced, now showing a bit over 400 miles on the odometer, and I’m hoping to have it ready for Lime Rock opening day. All 3 of these cars exist today, despite some claims to the contrary. The Martini car is in the UK, the white and blue is in Germany, and the Spa Silver is right here.

I hope this clears up a little bit of the confusion. Personally, I can’t wait to get it on the track:)


Thanks, Doc: that’s the first description of the cars history, on JL, that I think is accurate.

How many chassis have been written off?

I knew you could come through! Maybe someday you can take me for a spin in it!

Small correction: Leno was born in 1950: I’m a '57 model, too!

Paul- We could have been separated at birth! Another '57 model, a great year. If we were wine, we’d be declared a vintage year.
I don’t know how many have been written off, but if anyone has the time and feels like searching xj220-list.com that information should be there. I’m aware of 3 street cars that were totalled, a blue, a burgundy, and an unknown car recently in Italy (I was offered the engine and tranny and some other bits from that car about a month ago and it had about 4,000 km). Of course a good number were crashed in the FastMaster series, but many people suspect that those cars were sent back to TWR and converted to C or S spec, as the damage was to the bodywork only, so they were great candidates for the new carbon fiber bodies. I wonder how many S owners are really driving around a repaired FastMasters car:)

If you can get up to Lime Rock at some point this summer you can spend all the time you want going around and round in circles all day. It’s not a great track for this type of car with 3 seconds of turbo lag, but it is an icon, and it’s only an hour or so from my home, it has a private Driver’s Club with lots of track time, and I hope to get that lag down by swapping in dual ball bearing turbos. In any event it will be fun and it will be nice to meet you in person.

Happy holidays to all of you!

A VERY tempting offer! I’m also not asking for to pilot it: I’ll be happy to just get motored around in it.

But, I’ll bring my skid lid!

As for the turbo lag…is that a waste-gated system?

Topdoc, the point was we were old enough when it came out in 88
Was doug born yet?
I always loved the look, but IMHO they are not the best quality from Velcro rug attachments to the plastics.
I loved the fast master series, something that would never happen again.
Benny Parsons SMOKING a cigarette with an open helmet was the best!
Every 4 year pulling the engine and blatter replacements and tires from DON only…
Not my bag…
Great looking car though.

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I remember watching this, live, and being:
-aghast that they would do such a thing to the cars, and;
-how badly the cars “proposed” around/over bumps.

It appears they were sprung and shocked for a glass smooth surface.

Wiggles they raced at the track across from the big Indy track…
The cars back then cost more than the whole town!

Yet again (like the one on Jay Leno’s Garage) I see flames shoot out of one of the exhaust pipes or the other, sporadically … So, I take it this is normal and O.K. for the XJ220? :confused: Any other production car = backfiring = something amiss in valve-trainland = bad. :grimacing:

Even today, you’ll see after-burning (not backfiring: that’s through the intake), because a competition engine generally runs a bit rich, and back then, fuel management, wrt to fuel control on overrun/downshifting, wasn’t as accurate as it is these days.

I think it may even be intended that way, on road cars the injectors are shut off during overrun to minimise fuel consumption, with race engines I think they may keep the injectors firing to reduce temps in the cylinders?

Flames from the tailpipe of a turbocharged competition car sometimes come from an anti-lag system, where fuel is injected into the exhaust ahead of the turbine wheel off-throttle. This keeps the turbine spinning, so when throttle is applied again the turbo is already spooled up.

Not sure if the XJ220 had such a device however - I’ve never read any mention of such equipment. Maybe the race cars had it? It became pretty common on rally cars in the 90’s.


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Yes, the flames are normal and Wiggles is correct. These cars have no knock sensors and even the street cars run at relatively high boost (1950-2050 mbar, approximately 2 bars or about 30 psi absolute, 15 psig). So the engines run a bit rich to keep things safe (around 11.5) and when the throttle is closed for a shift, unburnt fuel is dumped into a hot exhaust and you get that nice flame. If you want even more flame, run straight pipes, good for a nice 6 foot flare. Keeps away the pesky F-40s behind you.

No anti-lag feature on these cars. Would have been nice. In fact lag is like the old Porsche Turbos (930) with pretty much no boost until max torque (4500 RPM), then a good shove to max power at 7000 RPM.
Then again, a 1750 cc motor just doesn’t flow a lot of air at low RPM. I suppose they could have gone with something smaller like a T25, but that would choke well before the approx 28 lbs/min of air necessary for about 275 bhp per bank. It’s the same tradeoff all older turbos had. Go smaller and make boost fast, but top out well short of 542 bhp (good for autocross, short tracks like Lime Rock) or go bigger, live with lag but get max power at top end (good for BIG tracks with lots of long straights). Of course today we have electric turbos, variable nozzle turbos (vnt), dual ceramic ball bearing CHRAs, so theoretically you can have all the boost the engine can handle with zero lag in the electric turbos, and close to zero in vnt, and a 30% quicker spool for the ball bearing turbos. Unfortunately the Zytek ecu is incapable of managing an electric turbo,but it should be able to run a vnt (no wastegate needed), but they are tough to find. So for this car, at this point in time, the best I can find is a larger turbo than the T3, capable of making 450 bhp per bank (e.g Garrett GTX Gen2 2860R) which will spool up a bit faster than a T3 and make more top end power. Or just go with a T3/T4 hybrid with ball bearing CHRA and not have to change exhaust manifold flange, downpipe flange and some other flanges to V-Band, and I can leave things stock.

Wiggles-bring your helmet. But grow to 6’4" by the summer because race seat will probably be bolted to floor to give me enough headroom and legroom unless we can find a sidemount slider that’s really close to the floor:)

I wish you all a happy holiday season.

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I am down to 4’ 3"… in circumference.


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Well that bit about the only person who has (legal??) rights to reproduce the parts wanting cars shipped to him sounds like a nightmare. I guess it must be legal for Jaguar to do that to the 200 plus people that they sold the cars to or who own them now.

I don’t know what the specific intellectual property rights are in the UK, but according to Wiki they typically expire after 20 years. So after 20 years (Don Law took over in 1998) the IP rights expire, and anyone can make those parts. Don Law sold parts to anyone who needed them until very recently (like the day we sent him the parts list we needed, only to get an email and phone call from Don telling us he isn’t selling parts to anyone, and all cars should be shipped to him in the UK for repairs. Idiotic and short sighted). You can find plenty of my very public posts about Mr. Law’s behavior on various Jaguar websites. But he has all the drawings and specs for manufacturing new parts. Jaguar Classic had to 3D scan every part on the XJ220 and then reverse engineer in CAD in order to reproduce them.

In 2017 Jaguar Heritage/Jaguar Classic (I don’t know which is which, but it’s a factory-backed effort) went ahead and built a large restoration facility and parts department “for all Jaguar cars over 10 years old”. They advertise parts for the XJ220, but when we sent them our list they responded that they are still in the process of getting internal signoffs to distribute these parts through their dealer network. That was in September. As of today the only thing they can offer for the XJ220 are the Pirelli tires. I suspect, but do not know, that Don Law threatened Jaguar with legal action. If he did, it could be years before a decision, even if the IP rights expired. However, Jaguar Classic told me to send my car to the UK so they could work on it (so they have the parts, I guess the contention is over selling parts to third parties) and they have been competing with Don Law for 2 years, and maybe he is seeing some of his business disappear as owners go to Jaguar Classic, or as more cars come to the US. I’m not crying poverty, but it’s $10,000 to ship the car there and back by container (if the container doesn’t fall off the ship. It happens a lot). For a few hoses, gaskets and a fuel cell? Again, idiotic. By the time they make up their minds they will be owned by the French group that owns Peugeot and Citroen and maybe we’ll get some action.

In any event, other than a major catastrophe involving the block/heads/pistons/crank etc., all the parts necessary for recommissioning and maintenance are available on the open market. As I mentioned earlier, TWR was a race car builder, not a production car builder. These are race cars that happen to be street legal. But TWR did not concern themselves with Wilton carpets and Connolly leather, they built the car to a high standard, and it is pretty luxurious for a race car (the F-40 is stripped out, has no a/c and no radio, and Ferrari build quality in the late 80s/early 90s was pretty horrible- witness the fabulous 348) so as someone who has owned a number of vintage and modern Ferraris, both street and factory race cars, as well as an E type (really really needed rustproofing, and really needed those Zenith Stromberg carbs like I need liver cancer), an XJ6 (really really needed the LS engines that everyone except me was putting into them to make them run), the XJ220 is very well built as far as I can see. Welds are beautifully done, panels line up, no lead anywhere to correct poor gaps, and a very strong stiff chassis.

We’ll see what happens.

Wiggles- you are welcome any time, bring your suit and lid, but try and grow a bit by the summer if possible:)

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