Introduced in 1948, the Jaguar XK120 truly defined the company, headed by Williams Lyons, and transformed it from being essentially being a boutique car manufacturer to a relatively major industrial powerhouse. When the XK120 was presented, no one had any idea of the impact it would have, and indeed orders quickly overwhelmed the small factory; it would take up to 1950 until production could start in earnest. The XK120 was a stunning two-seater that whispered more than screamed elegant purity, and based on its looks alone, it would have been a stunning hit. Thankfully, it had more to offer. A LOT more, starting with its incredible performance and road-handling abilities.
While the XK120 had a pretty face, it’s what under the hood that made it spectacular: the all-new XK engine, a straight-six, 3.4-liter machine that produced, at its peak, 265 horsepower. Even the early versions, closer to 1948, pumped out 160 horsepower, enough to ensure that the ‘120’ in the car’s name was no idle boast. The fastest model could reach a top speed of 135 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds!
The 1948 Jaguar XK120 is the car to put Jaguar on the map, so to speak, but when it was replaced in 1961, it was by the E-Type, a wonderful car in its own right. It’s delightful to see that Jaguar didn’t rest on its laurels, as so many manufacturers are wont to do.