The History of the Jaguar XK120

Despite its unassuming appearance, the Jaguar XK120 boasts some serious power under the hood. Equipped with a twin-cam XK motor, this highly sought-after roadster could give many modern-day sports cars a run for their money. Like many other vehicles from the golden age of British auto making, the Jaguar XK120 has a fascinating history behind it.  
Limited Production

Originally designed to show off Jaguar’s revolutionary dual-overhead camshaft engine, the XK120 was meant to have a limited production run. No more than 300 XK120s had been manufactured when the vehicle first shipped. However, the initial stock quickly sold out, and amidst much fanfare, Jaguar decided to put the XK120 into mass production.

Practical Design

Jaguar founder William Lyons is primarily credited with the XK120’s design. Whereas many automobiles manufactured during this time period were large and needlessly bulky, the Jaguar XK120 was sleek, relatively compact and didn’t feature any extraneous frills. This enhanced degree of practicality enabled the vehicle to maintain high speeds for longer durations of time, making it the perfect roadster for drivers who love feeling the wind in their hair. Although the first run of XK120s sport aluminum bodies, the mass-produced models have bodies comprised of pressed steel.  

Success on the Race Track

It didn’t take long for auto racers to discover the Jaguar XK120’s enormous potential. Throughout the early 1950s, the XK120 took first place in a number of European car racing events — Lemans and Seven Days and Seven Nights chief among them. Additionally, in 1954, the XK120 rose to prominence in the U.S. when it won NASCAR’s very first course race. This marked the first and only time a foreign vehicle took first place in the NASCAR Premier Series. 

Automotive aficionados on the hunt for a roadster that can go toe-to-toe with contemporary vehicles needn’t look any further than the Jaguar XK120. With its practical design and ultra-powerful engine, the XK120 is guaranteed to make a welcome addition to any classic car collection.


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