The Jaguar XK 120 was introduced at the October 1948 London Earls Court Motor Show as a design exercise and showpiece for the magnificent new XK engine. This was the first British auto show in nearly 10 years due to the intervention of war, and although money was still tight and rationing was still in force, public interest was high. Chief Jaguar stylist William Lyons talent was more than justified as his new roadster design was the sensation of the show and the press acclaim was overwhelming and immediate. Sensing the opportunity and the promotional value of competition, Lyons immediately set about promoting the prototype car through racing and speed events, even before he produced and printed sales brochures and announced immediate production plans.
- 3442cc in-line six-cylinder dual overhead cam engine,
- 160 HP,
- four-speed manual gearbox,
- Torsion-bar independent front suspension with anti-roll bar,
- rear live axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs,
- 102” wheelbase
The press pundits were skeptical that the new Jaguar could achieve the claimed top speed of 120 mph as the model name suggested, and they also were doubtful that the car could be sold successfully for the suggested $4,000. Lyons had enough orders on his books to start a limited production line, hand-building the cars in the classic tradition of alloy body over a wood frame, and in the meantime set about the business of convincing the world that his new car could do everything he said it could and more. He built another three pre-production cars, painted them red, white and blue, and sent them to Silverstone for the prestigious production car event, which they won in great style coming in First, Second, and Fourth.
In May 1950, with the world motoring press watched a production XK 120 with a smaller windscreen hurtle down the motorway in Jabbeke, Belgium at over 132 mph, and history was in the making. The news went out and within weeks orders started to pour in. Just 240 Alloy bodied XKs were built before the sheer volume of the orders demanded that production change to pressed steel panels to speed up the assembly process. Lyons had justified his faith in his new XK engine and his engineers and staff had built a great car around it.
1954 was the final year of XK 120 production, and this fine Roadster was long part of the esteemed John O’Quinn collection. The restoration was obviously performed on a straight, rust-free car, as the panel fit and gaps are excellent. Finished in classic white, this superb XK 120 Roadster sports the original dash panel with its correct brass plaque and period instruments. The seats are fine black leather, and with the correct carpets and door panels in place, everything looks clean and proper inside. Take a good look underneath as well, and you’ll see a clean and properly prepared undercarriage. The boot offers the correct mat, spare wheel, and has a full original tool roll and jack, and throughout, it’s a lovely presentation of a significant early Jaguar.