The Jaguar XJ220 is, in the year 2019, considered a classic of the early 1990s supercar era. It’s right up there in the Pantheon with the Ferrari F40s and the Bugatti EB110s. But when it finally went on sale in 1992, it was a total disaster.
I don’t mean the car itself was a disaster, not by any reasonable yardstick. Okay, so it didn’t have a V12 (too big, too heavy, too thirsty, not powerful enough), all-wheel drive (too big, too heavy, again), and it couldn’t hit 220 mph like it said in the name (too fast), all like it was originally planned in the original Jaguar XJ220 concept, but it still had plenty. The car that went on sale is still a mid-engine supercar with a twin-turbo V6 good for 542 horsepower and sleek looks that help propel it to a still-eye-watering 217 mph.
But the over-promising of the concept and the under-delivering of the production version, complete with the last global economic downturn to actually hurt rich people, led to Jaguar only building around 280 (depending on who you ask), as opposed to the 350 it originally planned to build.
There was reportedly at least one lonely brand-new XJ220 sitting on a dealer lot, just waiting for its happy owner to pick it up, as late as 1997, five years after it went on sale. Jaguar tried all sorts of gimmicks trying to get rid of them, including pitting a bunch of XJ220s against each other on an oval track where they bashed each other into smithereens. That’s an improvement on NASCAR if I’ve ever heard of one.
But that sort of thing doesn’t really happen anymore. McLaren builds a bunch of P1s, and it sells all of those P1s. Same goes for LaFerraris, Porsche 918s, and also sorts of rarified machines. These million-dollar-plus machines (and adjusted for inflation, a Jaguar XJ220 would’ve gone for over a million today) always sell out. No matter what.
We got to talking about this idea in the Jalopnik mainframe, and we honestly couldn’t remember anything past the mid-1990s that was as big a true supercar flop as the XJ220 was. There are some mere sports cars these days that maybe don’t sell as well as was originally hoped for, but not the truly exotic stuff.
Unless there is. What do you think was the last supercar flop? Let us know in the comments below.