Top Gear has released a clip from its season 29 episode which saw supercars from the ’90s go head to head. In it, presenter Freddie Flintoff attempts to hit the holy grail of the era: 200 mph.
Although the official top speed of the stock XJ220 is 212.3 mph, racing driver Martin Brundle managed to take it up to 217.1 mph in 1992 in a lightly modified, but still street-legal, version of the car.
With no disrespect intended to Brundle, though, doing that in 1992 on a test track is a little different than doing it in 2020, when the car is nearly 30 years old and your only safety equipment is an open-face helmet with a mic on it and a t-shirt.
Still, Flintoff does manage to achieve an indicated 200 mph on the airstrip. The camera team and the editors do a great job of really pumping up the feeling of danger in this clip and manage to convey, in a degree, what 200 mph may feel like.
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Flintoff, a former professional cricketer, does his best to get the feeling across, too. Climbing out of the Jag, giddy, he’s raring to go for another run. As he lets the XJ220 cool down, he says that being in the car reminds of him going up to bat at cricket.
“[I go up] and I’m nervous and the closer I get to the wicket, everything’s coming alive and I love it,” says Flintoff. “That was like that times ten.”
Although the XJ220 hit the 200 mph mark and appears to be alright, after Top Gear handed the car back to its owner, it crashed into a tree, tearing bodywork off and suffering substantial damage.
Moreover, while shooting this film, co-host Paddy McGuinness crashed the Lamborghini Diablo that he had brought for the test. Fortunately, none of the people involved in either of the accidents was seriously injured.