Designed to be a low-volume dream
car rather than a high production motor car, the Jaguar
XK120 became an overnight sensation and highly
profitable. While most were exported to the USA, there
are still examples to be found in Australia and the
celebrated "classic" can
be purchased at a price.
The Jaguar XK120 Roadster was launched at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show and was an immediate success. This very stylish car had a top speed over 120 mph (hence the 120 name), and was tremendously good value for money being considerably cheaper and more advanced than any rival. It was a combination of beautiful
looks combined with an impressive engine that was to
ensure its success.
It was the fist car to feature the all-new double overhead camshaft engine, which in one cubic capacity or another went on to power all Jaguar cars - both saloon and sports, for about forty years. The new 3.4 litre straight six was a silky smooth engine,
using twin cams and twin SU carburettors to develop
The XK 120 was hugely popular and orders were much higher than Jaguar had anticipated. The first cars featured alloy body panels over an ash frame, but after production of about 200 models jaguar switched to a mass-produced mainly steel body to keep up with demand.
The "120" in XK120 was in fact true of the
cars performance, the first model rated at a top speed
of 120 mph (193 km/h). Later "SE" (Special Equipment) models came with higher
lift cams and twin exhausts that were able to lift the
power to 180 bhp.
a Fixed Head Coupe version was introduced, with a Drophead Coupe joining the range in 1953
. Both of these cars featured wind-up windows, external door handles, and a walnut dashboard. A Special Equipment model was available from 1951
with a 180 bhp engine.
Production of all models ended in 1954
when the XK140