Jaguar XK120 - Classic British Sports Cars

Jaguar XK120 Arrives

The Jaguar XK120 hit the roads in 1948 and stunned a post-war public. A 120 mph top speed was astonishing in 1948 and for only £1,263. The XK120 was the first Jaguar to use the new DOHC 6-cylinder 3.4-litre engine with 160 bhp and it showed, with 0-60 mph coming up in 12 seconds on the later steel-bodied production cars.

The XK120 SE (Special Equipment) had 180 bhp dropping the 0-60 mph time to under 10 seconds.It was introduced in 1951 and ran alongside the standard XK120 until 1954 when both were replaced.

Most of the early 1948-1950 aluminium bodied XK120s ended up in America, but it had quickly become apparent to Jaguar that they had a major success on their hands with the car and so bodies were retooled to be made in the cheaper steel option to allow volume production.

From Wikimedia Commons - a public domain image.
From Wikimedia Commons - a public domain image.

XK120 Derivatives

The C-type Jaguar was actually a derivative of the XK120, the XK120C (Competition) which Jaguar built specifically to win at Le Mans. And in 1951 it did just that the first time out. With a retuned XK engine giving 204 bhp the car was popular with Jaguar actually building 54 of them with all but 11 going to private individuals. In 1953 it would have cost you £2,119, compared to a standard XK120 at £1,602. For a 140 mph plus car that was considered cheap. While it may have been seen as a deriviative of the XK120, beyond the name and the engine there weren't to many other similarities. The British car magazine, The Motor, tested one in the early fifties and got 143.7 mph and 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds and still got 16 mpg (imperial).

The later variant of the C-type, the Jaguar D-type, ran and won at Le Mans with around 10% less weight and power up to 285 bhp at 5,750 rpm (claimed) at the 3.8-litre capacity. Some of the D-type cars (thought to be around 16) were converted and sold as the road-going Jaguar XK-SS.

A fixed-head coupe was introduced in 1951 to the XK120 line up but most were sold in America, with the model only being released in Britain in 1953. But the XK120 was replaced in 1954 with the new Jaguar XK140. Around 12,000 of all models had being built.

Jaguar XK120

From Wikimedia Commons - a public domain image.
From Wikimedia Commons - a public domain image.

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