VotW – The Classic Jaguar XK120 to XK150

Our video this week features a breed of car that just oozes the charm and style that exemplifies British Sports cars, the Jaguar XK120 and XK150. Along with the timeless E-Type, the XK line is still what flashes through many peoples mind when they think of a Jaguar. And who can blame them? The lines, the sound, the driving experience, are all pure art in motion. The video comes by way of the King Rose Archives.

The big breakthrough was the launch in 1948 of the XK120 sports car, powered with the new XK twin overhead camshaft (DOHC) 3.5-litre hemi-head six-cylinder engine designed by William Heynes, Walter Hassan and Claude Baily. This engine had been designed at night during the war when they would be on fire watch in the factory. After several attempts a final design was achieved. That is until owner William Lyons said “make it quieter”. The car had originally been intended as a short production model of about 200 vehicles as a test bed for the new engine until its intended home, the new Mark VII saloon, was ready. The XK120’s exceptional reception was followed in 1954 by the introduction of the derivative XK140, and a much revised XK150.
King Rose Archive

Just as a bit of a refresher, the Jaguar XK120 was produced between 1948 and 1954. It was Jaguar’s first sports car since the SS100, which had gone out of production in 1940. The first XK120s had aluminum bodies, but this was soon changed to pressed steel to keep up with production. Certain panels, such as the bonnet, remained aluminum throughout production though. The “120” in the name referred to the car’s 120 mph top speed which made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch.

The XK120 was followed by the XK140 in 1954. The XK140 remained in production until 1957 when it was in turn replaced by the XK150. The XK150, of course, remained in production until supplanted by the E-Type in 1961.


1 Comment

  1. There were two two litre four cylinder versions of the xk motor built just before the launching of the six cylinder version. One of them was on display at the Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa for many years.

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