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SUNDAY 4th DECEMBER 2016
NEW BOND STREET,LONDON
1950 JAGUAR XK 120 ROADSTER
- 'We claimed 120 mph (for the XK 120), a speed unheard of for a
production car in those days' - William Heynes, Chief Engineer, Jaguar
Cars.Conceived and constructed in but a few months, the XK120 debuted at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show where the stunning-looking roadster caused a sensation, the resulting demand for what was then the world's fastest production car taking Jaguar by surprise. With orders rolling in apace, Jaguar had no choice but to think again about the XK120's method of construction. The work of Jaguar boss William Lyons himself and one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace a motor car, the body had been conceived as a coachbuilt, aluminium panelled structure for the simple reason that Jaguar expected to sell no more than 200 XK120s in the first year! In conjunction with the Pressed Steel Fisher Company a new all-steel panelled body was developed, which retained the fabulous looks of the coachbuilt original while differing in minor external details. Beneath the skin the steel car was entirely different and it would take some 20 months of development before manufacture could begin.
The XK120's heart was, of course, the fabulous XK engine, which had been developed during the war and was intended for Jaguar's forthcoming Mark VII saloon. A 3.4-litre 'six' embodying the best of modern design, it boasted twin overhead camshafts running in an aluminium-alloy cylinder head, seven main bearings and a maximum output of 160bhp. It went into a chassis that was essentially a shortened version of the simultaneously announced Mark V saloon's, featuring William Heynes' torsion bar independent front suspension. Jaguar lost no time in demonstrating that the XK120's claimed top speed was no idle boast. In May 1949, on the Jabbeke to Aeltre autoroute, an example with its hood and side screens in place recorded a speed of 126mph and 132mph with the hood and windscreen detached and an under-tray fitted.
The XK120 set new standards of comfort, roadholding and performance for British sports cars and, in keeping with the Jaguar tradition, there was nothing to touch it at the price. Coupé and drophead coupé versions followed, and for customers who found the standard car too slow, there was the Special Equipment (SE) package which boosted power to 180bhp. With either engine and regardless of the type of bodywork, the XK120 was a genuine 120mph car capable of sustained high-speed cruising.
The XK120 was produced until 1954 and would prove to be the most popular of the XK series, with 12,078 examples built, of which only 1,175 were right-hand drive roadsters like that offered here. Chassis number '660065' is the 65th right-hand-drive roadster completed, and only the 5th steel-bodied example. The original chassis plate, probably nickel plated originally but now polished back to brass, shows large valve clearances of 0.012" and 0.015", which were reduced on later cars. Another interesting feature is the engine number's compression ratio suffix; Jaguar evidently thought it would be 7:1 (common on cars destined for export) then over-stamped the '7' with an '8' before completion.
As a very early car, '660065' lacks the cockpit cooling vents in the front wings that were adopted soon after it was made. The engine too has all the correct early features, including the 'studless' cam covers and needlessly lengthy plug leads. The later travel from the distributor, down the side of the cylinder block, up the rear of the cylinder head, and then all the way back to the front of the engine again. This makes them around two metres in length! Jaguar soon recognised the wisdom of taking the leads from the distributor straight over the cylinder head. Another distinctive under-bonnet feature is the so-called 'stovepipe' SU carburettors, which have unnecessarily tall dash-pots. Later XK120s had noticeably lower and more practical ones. Also worthy of note is the beautiful cast-aluminium radiator fan, an expensive-to-produce item that was soon superseded by a cheaper pressed steel alternative. Another expensive feature is the hood frame: fully chromed on this early model but painted on later cars. Inside the cockpit, the indicator switch is noticeable by its absence; these would soon become standard but were not fitted to early cars such as this one. '660065' also retains the rare and often stolen 'owl's eye' cigarette lighter.
This XK120 was first owned in California, USA by actor Allan Jones, today best remembered for his roles in the movies 'Show Boat', and the Marx Brothers' 'A Night at the Opera' and 'A Day at the Races'. He was the father of pop singer Jack Jones. The accompanying Jaguar Heritage Trust Certificate reveals that '660065' was built as an open two-seater with right-hand drive and supplied for 'Personal Export Delivery'. The first owner is recorded as 'A Jones' and the original colour scheme as Pastel Blue with red interior and fawn soft-top. The original registration was 'RPM 89'.
The immediately preceding owner acquired the XK in 1988 and in 1999 had the car restored to perfection by renowned marque specialist Lynx Motors International Ltd, using many parts supplied by Guy Broad. Over £150,000 was spent to make the XK as good as, if not better than, the day it left the Brown's Lane factory. The Jaguar Drivers Club has rated 'RPM 89' as 'excellent' in every category, with a general comment of a 'very high quality restoration'. All receipts relating to the restoration are available.
In June 2015, the XK was offered from its deceased owner's estate at Bonhams' sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (Lot 361) where it was purchased by the current vendor. Since then, 'RPM 89' has benefited from a thorough and extensive service carried out by the highly respected CKL Developments Ltd, whose detailed invoice for £2,821 is on file. Now exempt from the annual MoT test, this exceptional Jaguar XK120 roadster is offered with the aforementioned documentation and a UK V5C registration Certificate.SOURCE & MORE IMAGES: PLEASE CLICK HERESELECTED BY: CLASSIC CHATTERKEEPING IT CLASSICSince: 2010