In the 1990s, Jaguar created the prowling beauty that is the XJR-15, but it remained a supercar that few know about and even fewer will ever get to own. When it comes to Jaguar’s most iconic supercars, the iconic XJ220 usually takes center stage. Prior to the XJ220, however, the British automaker created an exhilarating ’90s Jaguar supercar that looked just as good, if not better than the XJ220. Enter the Jaguar XJR-15, a brutally powerful V12 supercar that effectively predicted the XJ220’s future success. Although Jaguar unveiled many futuristic concepts that were never realized, the XJR-15 was a road car that anyone could have driven at the time.
That is, if they were fortunate enough to obtain one of the only 53 examples produced during its brief run in 1990. (via Jaguar). In reality, it was a street-legal version of Jaguar’s Le Mans-winning XJR-9 racecar. To accomplish this, Jaguar formed a partnership with Tom Walkinshaw Racing through its Jaguar Sport subsidiary. The task was straightforward: design a vehicle that allows extremely wealthy individuals to drive a genuine competition-winning racecar on public roads. The end result, however, was one of the coolest ’90s supercars ever made. But the XJR-15 is more than just its aerodynamic contours and alluring looks.
Meek on the street, a supercar under the sheets
With a 450-horsepower 6-liter V12 engine capable of pushing it to a top speed just shy of 200 mph and 0-60 mph in under four seconds, the Jaguar XJR-15 specs are nothing short of supercar-worthy (via Motor1). All that power wasn’t just for the streets, though, as Jaguar created a race series just for it (via Silverstone). According to Silverstone, throwing an exclusive celebratory event made sense given that the Jaguar XJR-15 cost more than half a million dollars when it first went on sale in 1991. What’s more important to celebrate is the Jaguar XJR-15’s game-changing design, which pioneered the carbon fiber monocoque.
According to Bonhams, it was created by renowned racecar designer Tony Southgate and Peter Stevens, the man behind iconic vehicles such as the Lotus Esprit, Lamborghini Diablo, and McLaren F1. As a result, the XJR-15 became the world’s first fully carbon fiber car, a trend that modern supercars have followed for generations. So, why is it still overshadowed by the popularity of the XJ220? Sure, this V12 monster sounds like everything the Jaguar’s V6 XJ220 failed to be, but there are fewer of them available compared to the latter, which sold nearly 300 units. Only 27 of the 53 examples made it to the streets, with the rest destined to be abused on the racetrack (via Motor1).
How much is a Jaguar XJR-15 worth today?
Jaguar’s lesser-known supercar wasn’t exactly competitively priced in an era when many supercar icons burst onto the scene. However, this cannot be said now that market volumes are becoming scarce. A track-spec’d XJR-15 purchased for over $500,000 in 1992 was sold on Bonhams in 2005 for a modest $91,941. Fast forward 16 years, and another example was for sale, this time for a seven-figure sum. This Jaguar XJR-15 example, one of 27 rare road cars with only 78 miles on the odometer, sold for nearly $2 million on Sotheby’s. A similar street XJR-15 was auctioned off in 2022 for an estimated price of $1.1 to $1.4 million.
Is this ’90s Jaguar supercar even worth driving regularly, given the rising XJR-15 price? Car reviewer Doug DeMuro demonstrated the many quirks that could make the XJR-15 an impractical daily driver in a YouTube video. For starters, its cabin offers little noise insulation, requiring passengers to wear headphones for communication and to block out the deafening engine noise. The XJR-15 interior doesn’t offer many luxurious amenities, either, from its basic climate control and driver instrumentation to its extremely cramped seating. This demonstrates that it is still a racecar at heart, and the way it relegates driver comfort to a secondary role — focusing solely on racing — makes the Jaguar XJR-15 one of the coolest supercars that receives little attention.