SEP 22nd 2014

Grace, pace and lightness: The alloy‑bodied Jaguar XK120

Supposedly only the first 242 Jaguar XK120s built featured alloy bodies, and fewer than 50 of those were right-hand-drive. Bearing in mind that over 12,000 of the hugely successful sports cars were built before Jaguar followed it with the XK140 and that makes them very highly sought-after indeed. They’re a bit like the earliest ‘flat-floor’ E-Types with the external bonnet handles in that they command a sturdy premium and rarely sit on the market for very long.


One of these early ash-framed cars was measured by the RAC through the ‘flying mile’ at a staggering 132.6mph, which in 1949 must have been only slightly less-astonishing than watching a car perform a vertical take-off. In order to meet the subsequent inevitable demand (Clark Cable ordered himself a Roadster) all cars were made with pressed-steel bodies and a weight penalty of 51kg over the alloy-bodied cars. They sold in great quantities all over the world and despite the success of its predecessor, the SS100, it was the XK120 which cemented Jaguar’s worldwide reputation as a manufacturer of high performance motor cars when one triumphed at Le Mans in 1951.


In 1954 production of the XK120 came to an end with the introduction of the XK140 with its better steering, suspension and brakes. It ran until 1957 when it was replaced by the XK150 which significantly differed from its predecessors in the styling department.


For many, the alloy-bodied early XK120s represent the best of the XKs and the  one you see here became one of the very first to be exported when it arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in January 1950. It was soon pressed into racing duty where it acquitted itself very well. In 1990 it was brought back to the UK where it underwent a thorough ‘concours’ restoration. Since then it’s featured prominently in various Jaguar concours events as well as European touring events. It’s for sale by Revival regular Gregor Fisken, who claim in their advert’ that this is ‘the XK120 to own’. We’re inclined to agree …



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