Today we are presenting a car that will take us back to the past, very far from our days, a time where 120 mph was a record. We are at Autoexclusive in Pistoia, our new partner in this automotive adventure. Waiting for us today is nothing less than a wonderful Jaguar XK 120.
The owner of this car, who will be with us during this day, is Alfredo, President of the Veteran Car Club of Pistoia. Beautiful, definitely a masterpiece of design, the line is aerodynamic and compact enough to remember an airplane.
Noteworthy are the details like the auto tax stamp on the door dated 1955, the beautiful leather strap on the hood (not provided as standard on this model) and the Rudge wheels.
It’s time to leave; the six-cylinder starts up immediately and let us begin our journey accompanied by the enchanting scenery of Tuscan’s hills. We drive into Casalguidi and Via Montalbano, roads that has also hosted the UCI Road World Championships, heading to San Baronto.
This road is perfect for this Jaguar that leaves behind her these gentle curves. Our destination is Villa Rospigliosi for completing the shooting of this English lady.
Villa Rospigliosi is located in a magnificent natural setting, in the heart of Tuscany not so far from Pistoia, Florence and Lucca. It was built for Pope Clement IX, the project was by the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the greatest exponent of Italian Baroque.
Let’s talk about the protagonist of this day, as “baroque” as Villa Rospigliosi. The context where is born is the immediate post-war England that tries to recover from the ravages of World War II and Jaguar started here to build its reputation.
Some time ago we told you about the Jaguar XF, a car that breaks with certain patterns of the past for Jaguar, trying to keep intact some strong features of its tradition. The XK 120 is just the perfect example of the Jaguar philosophy: luxury, style and sportiness.
At the London Motor Show 1948 this beautiful car is presented replacing the SS100. At the head of this project there was Sir William Lyons that definitely was inspired by the famous BMW 328. This Jag will become famous for the speed that was able to achieve.
Powered by a six-cylinder in-line DOHC 3.4cc delivering 160HP emerged as the fastest road car of the time, reaching the speed of 194 kilometres per hour, the equivalent of 120 miles per hour; that’s the reason for the name XK 120. Since the excellent result, to seduce customers, the Jaguar organized a publicised speed test to let everyone know about the potential of that car.
On May 30th 1949, with Ron Sutton at the wheel of an XK 120 without the front windshield and Sir Lyons in the sky on board of a Douglas DC-3, a record speed of 213 km / h has been reached on a highway in Belgium. For that time, considering the lack of popularity of the automotive market and the class to which it was belonged, that car has been a great success.
It was proposed at a price of 998 pounds and produced in twelve thousand models. During its career that spanned from 1948 to 1954, it ran successfully in various competitions such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio. The mechanical was very sophisticated, the only defect was the drum brakes that, in case of intensive use, lengthening stopping distances.
The suspension were independent, with double wishbones at the front while the rear was a rigid axial with leaf spring, later replaced. The XK 120 at our disposal has also the beautiful Rudge wheels, implying the renunciation of wheel fairings (for improving aerodynamics) in the rear axle, to make room for the chrome lock nut fasteners.
The interior is characterized by extremely refined materials and finishes, as expected for the Jaguar brand. The dashboard is totally covered in leather with the dashboard in the central part of it, with a large speedometer (in miles per hour, with full scale at 120) and the particular tachometer that moves counter clockwise.
A peculiarity of this car is the absence of an external handle. To access to the interior you need to pull a tab in the side windows.
Today owning a Jaguar XK 120 is a great satisfaction, it’s obviously not a car made to be used every day, but a treasure to be handled with care, with all the attentions that requires a mechanical piece of over 60 years old. Currently lots of collectors aspire to have an XK 120 and the price for this amazing classic car is around 100-150 thousand euro.
It’s time to say goodbye to Alfredo and his beautiful Jaguar which has allowed us to travel far in the past between records, sportiness and elegance in a way that not so much manufacturers are able to mix it very well.
By: Leonardo Stefani
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti
– 3400 cm3 petrol engine
– Power: 162 CV
– Maximum speed 192 Km/h
– 0/100 km/h in 10.0 seconds