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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 27: Jaguar unveils the XK120 on this date in 1948


Jaguar XK120.

When the doors of the first post-war London Motor Show opened on this date in 1948, the attendees were greeted by a wholly unsuspected car, one that Jaguar had assembled from concept to reality in just two weeks.

Named the XK120, the model was thought of by Jaguar chief Sir William Lyons as a limited-production loss-leader — a way to demonstrate the power and potential of the XK engine, a 130-hp six that would power Jaguar's upcoming sedans. But the £995 price tag Lyons gave the XK120, along with its voluptuous appearance, made it an instant sensation.

 Stunned by the demand, Jaguar changed plans and spent the next 18 months tooling for a production model, which would be the fastest factory-built machine on earth at its arrival, and make Jaguar's reputation. Here's our talk from earlier this year with Norman Dewis, the Jaguar engineer charged with proving the XK's prowess at top speed: