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Jaguar XK120

Production: 1948 - 1954

Production Type: Mass Production

Produced: 12061

The Jaguar XK120 is Jaguar Cars' first mass-produced sports car after the end of World War II, the successor to the SS Jaguar 100.


About Jaguar XK120

The model was created on the basis of a completely new XK engine, the development of which began back in 1943 during the war. During this time, the leading employees of the company have developed many test samples. Each was marked with an X followed by letters in alphabetical order (XA, XB, etc.). Of all the developments, the XK turned out to be the best.

The engine has passed many different tests, such as a 24 hour test with 5000 rpm support, followed by an increase in rpm every 2 hours for 5 minutes to 5250/5500/6000. Each engine underwent a mandatory three-hour bench run followed by a two-hour run-in. The need to produce quality products, the workers at the plant, reminded signs “Damage Means Dismissal” (Damage means Dismissal), which once again confirms the reliability of the XK.

There were many rumors and disputes regarding the new engine. The press constantly said that the engine was created exclusively for racing and was too expensive. Already now it can be judged that these rumors are unfounded, because its production (with various types of modifications) will continue until 1986.

However, the first engines also had flaws, for example, during tests it turned out that it heats up significantly. The reason was in the unfinished cooling system, the problem with which was solved by increasing the diameter of the hose in one of the most critical places, as well as installing a six-blade fan.

Initially, the engine was intended for a new executive sedan, but by 1948 production was not yet ready due to an unassembled line for the production of body panels. That is why the Jaguar Mk V appeared with the old 2.5 and 3.5 liter engines, and they decided to put the new XK engine on an experimental model.

In February 1948, a unique Jaguar Super Sports prototype was developed , based on a modified Jaguar Mark V chassis , the future XK120, where the number 120 meant the car's top speed in miles. The initial prototype was different from the classic Jaguar XK120, but the company still had enough time to refine the model.

There are two versions regarding this experimental model. The first claims that the car was not even planned for production, but was created only to demonstrate new engines. The second, which is mentioned in most sources, states that the release was planned in a fairly limited series. In any case, future shows determined the fate of the model.

For the first time, an experimental model was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1948. Later, on October 22, 1948, the model was shown to a narrow circle of people at the Grosvenor Hotel, and on October 27 at the Earl`s Court Motor Show, where it was shown in two versions: XK100 (XG engine with 4 cylinders) and XK120 (XK engine with 6 cylinders).

The model made a splash, and definitely riveted the attention of the majority. The management of “Jaguar Cars” was not ready for such a stir, because the body of the car was made manually from aluminum, which, due to the labor intensity of production and the amount of material (post-war period), did not allow satisfying the demand, so the first 240 cars were able to get the most nimble lucky ones. From October 1949, a production line was launched based on the production of bodies by pressing from steel panels.

On August 30, 1949, the car won an honorable first place in the Silverstone race, which only contributed to an increase in demand. After that, the car more than once won prizes in various automotive competitions.

It is worth noting that for some reason the Jaguar XK100 never made it into production.

Almost all 240 cars (except 5-6) with an aluminum body, produced from 1948 to 1949, were exported. Due to the rather high price of the XK120, about 80% of all cars produced will suffer the same fate.

The first models had an open body and were simply called Roadster by many, although in official catalogs the model was called the Jaguar XK120 Open Two Seater (OTS or simply Roadster).

Models made of steel panels, produced since October 1949, practically did not differ from aluminum ones, only some subtle elements betrayed the difference.

In 1951, the Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe (FHC) entered production , featuring a fixed roof body.

At the same time, 3 special Jaguar XK120 Lightweight (LT) models were made , which were supposed to replace the Jaguar C-Type at Le Mans races if the new cars were not yet ready.

Also, from the middle of 1951, the production of special models Special Edition (called M in the USA) began, which cost more, but had a power of 180 hp. (against the standard 160) and differed in a number of parameters: a special camshaft, special crankshaft dampers, spoke wheels, a dual exhaust system (only on open models), stiffer stabilizers.

In 1953, the Jaguar XK120 Drop Head Coupe (DHC) was released, which featured a convertible roof.

Model production ended in September 1954, shortly before the announcement of the Jaguar XK140 . A total of 12,061 cars were produced in various bodies with left and right hand drive. Of these: OTS - 7614, FHC - 2680, DHC - 1767.

Jaguar XK120 Overview

For several years of production of XK120 cars, the configurations have partially changed. Also, many racers and speed lovers made unofficial engine modifications: they installed other carburetors and cylinder heads.

Jaguar XK120 Technical Specification

The car was introduced with a 160 hp 3442 cc engine, as well as a special SE version with 180 hp.

Engine 160 hp: 3442cc; 6 cylinders; Cylinder diameter and piston stroke - 83 × 106 mm; Two SU H6 carburetors; 160 HP (119 kW).

Engine 160 hp: 3442cc; 6 cylinders; Cylinder diameter and piston stroke - 83 × 106 mm; Two SU H6 carburetors; Special camshaft; Special crankshaft dampers; 180 HP (134 kW).

Jaguar XK120 Models

Jaguar XK120 Open Two Seater (Roadster)
The very first body of the model. The first 240 cars were handcrafted from aluminium, the rest from pressed steel.

Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe
Model in a body with a fixed steel roof.

Jaguar XK120 LT (Lightweight)
A special model made in quantities of 3, which was a backup for the 1951 Le Mans race.

Jaguar XK120 Drop Head Coupe
Body with fully retractable roof.

Jaguar XK120 also called

Jaguar XK120 DHC
Jaguar XK120 OTS
Jaguar XK120 FHC
Jaguar XK120 3.4L
Jaguar XK120 SE
Jaguar XK120 LT
Jaguar XK120 M

Jaguar XK120 Photogallery

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