Jaguar XK120 Roadster

Sir William Lyons built Jaguar from his early Swallow Sidecar business on a combination of exciting styling, impressive performance and great value. Attractive sporting sedans were the marque’s mainstay, but starting with the SS90 and SS100 models in the late 1930s, Jaguar became even better known for its sports models.

During the Second World War, Lyons and his staff designed what would be the world’s first high-volume twin cam engine. After the war, a short wheelbase chassis and a two-seat sports roadster body were married to this new engine and when the XK120 was introduced at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show, one journalist commented “… all preconceived notions as to what was a series-production sports car disappeared overnight.” While it was initially introduced as a display car, a flood of rave reviews prompted Jaguar to rush the XK120 into production. From this point forward, the iconic XK redefined Jaguar as a builder of exceptional sports cars.

The XK120’s body was a fresh, minimalist design with gracefully flowing curves running front to back, while the modern chassis design provided excellent handling. Its inline six-cylinder engine, originally producing 160 horsepower, was mated with a four-speed manual transmission, and provided phenomenal performance. The new car’s model designation, intended to represent its top speed, proved an understatement when factory test driver Ron Sutton was clocked on a Belgian road at over 132 miles per hour! In competition, the XK120, in the hands of such greats as Stirling Moss and Phil Hill, chalked up numerous important victories. In fact, the superb XK engine became the basis of all future Jaguar products over the ensuing decades, and propelled Jaguar racing cars to five Le Mans 24 Hour victories between 1951 and 1957.

Part of the RM Auctions event in Amelia Island in August, 2009; Monterey in January, 2010; Phoeniz in March, 2010; Monaco in May, 2012; Arizona in January, 2013

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2009 at the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California, in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona, in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida and in May of 2012 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

160bhp, 3,442 cc dual overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with double wishbones and torsion bars, rigid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel; James Mann; Pawel Litwinski

Gallery: Jaguar XK120 Roadster