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Car & Driver: Bridgestone Is Developing a Brand New Tire for the 1992 Jaguar XJ220


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Jaguar is preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the XJ220 next year, a car that was briefly the fastest in the world with a top speed of 217 mph. Now, to honor the anniversary and to help keep these high-speed collectibles on the road, parts-supplier Don Law is partnering with Bridgestone to develop new tires for the XJ220.


Only 275 of the cars were built, more than the originally announced 220 (the projected top speed in mph) but fewer than a later target of 350 units (the actual top speed in km/h). Those 275 cars have now become valuable collectibles, and most of the owners know that if they want to keep them on the road, they have to turn to Don Law Racing in the UK. Don Law is an expert Jaguar shop and has become essentially the world headquarters for any and all XJ220 replacement parts. If you need XJ220 bits and pieces, you call Don Law. Bridgestone, meanwhile, was the original supplier of tires for the project.


While it’s a small market, it’s also an important tire to develop. Tires that would work on the XJ220 went out of production years ago, so it’s hard for owners to get the correct size for their cars if they want to keep driving them. Bridgestone is working with the original engineers, original test driver, and pre-production chassis 004 to develop the new 255/45 ZR17 fronts and 345/35 ZR 18 rear tires. The partners aim to have the new, modern tires available for the anniversary in 2017.


While the original concept shown in 1988 was an all-wheel drive car with a naturally-aspirated V12, Jaguar looked at the Porsche 959 and Ferrari F40 and, working in partnership with Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) instead put it into production four years later as a rear-wheel drive car with a twin-turbo V6. Some potential buyers backed out when the price went up, perhaps also disappointed that the car didn’t have a V-12 or that it fell just short of the targeted 220-mph top speed. Or at least those reasons were among the excuses given when the economy went into a recession just as the cars were going into production.


The Jaguar hasn’t kept pace with its contemporary supercars from Stuttgart and Maranello on the collector market; while 959s and F40s fetch over $1.0-million, a 1993 XJ220 sold at RM Sotheby’s 2015 Monterey auction for  $462,000 while a museum-stored example from 1994, the last model year, traded hands in June for $357,500. After sitting in a museum for years on end, it could probably stand a fresh set of tires before it can demonstrate its potential.


A version of this story originally appeared on Road & Track.


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