MAY 29th 2014

Cars that rock Villa d’Este: 1952 Jaguar XK120

Another astonishing one-off body with a fascinating competition history.

This 3442cc, six-cylinder XK120 made its first-flying mile record attempt on the long motorway straight near Jabbecke in Belgium, but was quickly bested by a Spanish Pegaso. So Jaguar’s aerodynamicist and designer Malcolm Sayer – later responsible for the E-Type – created this unique body with its plexiglass dome for the driver.

That driver was Norman Dewis, who came to Villa d’Este this year to see the car on display. He set a new record over the measured mile of 172mph – on skinny, treadless, 1950s rubber. The car was subsequently used in club racing and was owned by sports-car racing hero Brian Redman, who used it to go on honeymoon: minus its one-man bubble-glass, one assumes.

It was used as a road-going XK120 by later owners before one checked the chassis number and realized what he had. It was then given a sensational, sensitive 5000-hour restoration by British historic racing specialists JD Classics before being acquired by its current, infectiously enthusiastic owner Kurt Engelhorn.


Photography: Richard Pardon

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