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When the Jaguar XJ220 appeared as a last minute entry at the 1988 Motor Show it stunned the crowds. Few people believed it could be put into production, but Jaguar confounded their critics and built, what was at the time, the world's fastest road car - a status that remained until the advent of the McLaren F1 in 1994.

In the best traditions of Jaguar, and like the XJ13 before it, the XJ220 was conceived by "The Saturday Club" - an informal group of Jaguar employees who would meet after-hours and on weekends to work on unofficial projects.

Ex head of product development, Jim Randle's vision was of a car powered by detuned version of the le Mans winning XJR-9 V12 engine, together with a full complement of technology to provide an immensely capable road car: four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, and the potential for traction control, adaptive suspension and four-wheel steering.

It was this prototype that made a last-minute debut at the NEC in October 1988. Already very nearly a fully working vehicle, it was still very much a one-off. However Sir John Egan hinted, as he unveiled the prototype, that it could indeed become a production car.

To develop the prototype into a full production model, Jaguar turned to Tom Walkinshaw, head of Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) and JaguarSport, who had had success that year at the Le Mans 24-Hour with the XJR-9LM.

Tom Walkinshaw reported back that the XJ220 could indeed be produced, and could also make a decent return on the investment required, but not as it stood. A new car needed to be designed, keeping to the original shape but using a twin-turbo V6 and rear-wheel drive to produce a shorter, lighter vehicle owing more to Jaguar's racing experience.

The Tom Walkinshaw developed 3.5-litre V6, as used in the Group C XJR10/11 racers, fitted with twin Garrett T3 turbochargers, generating 542 bhp of maximum power at 7000 rpm and 645 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. The engine was the first V6 in Jaguar's history and was a 6-cylinder derivation from the Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine, originally designed by David Wood of Cosworth for the AustinMetro 6R4 rally car. The engine had been heavily modified by TWR to allow the Jaguar Group C cars to remain competitive against resurgent competition in the World Sports-car Championship. It was also the first Jaguar engine to use forced induction.


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