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The first sports car produced by Jaguar at the time since 1939, the XK120 was made from 1948 – 1954. This post-war car leads the charge for Jaguar’s image at the time.
In fact, the frame of this car stood as an example for many Jaguar cars to be built in many years to come.
When unveiled as a show car at the 1948 London Motor Show, the XK120 caused an uproar of attention, leading to its production shortly thereafter. The batmobile- like design catches anyone’s eye, but the functionality of this car is mind-blowing.
“120” was named after the vehicle’s ability to reach 120 mph, a staggering accomplishment at the time, although it could reach even faster speed without the windshield. Upon launch, the XK120 was the fastest production car on the market.
Not only could this car perform at 120 mpg, but this is with drum brakes. Only a madman would actually push this vehicle to its top speed, but there was a novelty in having a car being this capable.
The XK120 used many of the same parts as the Jaguar Mark V, but the build of the car was vastly different.
The 3.4-liter straight-6 engine was ahead of its time. Hemispherical combustion chambers, twin SU carburetors, and an aluminum alloy cylinder head in the engine produced an incredible 160 horsepower. As one could imagine, the XK120 won races around the world in the years to come.
Unfortunately, the car had wear-prone brake drums, but this was the norm of older cars. Although this is a novel to own, a gentleman at the time would be expected to work on his vehicle quite regularly as these older vehicles needed tighter upkeep.
The price for the XK120 was also right — buyers could purchase this vehicle for a cheap price considering the impressive function.
The first 242 sold were framed with aluminum and wood. After the amount of demand for the XK120, Jaguar modified the frame to an all-steel build.
The original Aluminum builds were much more expensive, and an all-steel frame lowered manufacture cost, and thus decreased the market price drastically.
In order to assist the steering, Jaguar produced a huge 16-inch steering wheel, making this car a difficult drive for larger men and women. The cab was also very limited, and longer-legged drivers have an infamously hard time operating the XK120.
The XK120 didn’t feature exterior door handles, but instead, a pullcord from inside of the cab would open the doors when pulled.
Roll-up windows were featured on the side of the car and the windshield design had a wrap-around build.
Later upgrades featured wire wheels, but the original plated wheels came standard at first.
The XK120 was available with both right-side and left-side driving for exportation. Most of the cars were exported after becoming available.
- Top speed of 120 mph (some have pushed to 132 mph)
- 0-60 mph in 9 seconds
- Fuel consumption at an average of 19.8 mpg
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