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Lot 243: Jaguar XK120 Roadster

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams (29 June 2012)

We claimed 120 mph (for the XK 120), a speed unheard of for a production car in those days' - William Heynes, Chief Engineer, Jaguar Cars. Conceived and constructed in but a few months, the XK120 debuted at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show where the stunning-looking roadster caused a sensation, the resulting demand for what was then the world's fastest production car taking Jaguar by surprise. It was immediately obvious that the slow-to-produce alloy bodywork would have to go, and the car was swiftly re-engineered in steel. The work of Jaguar boss William Lyons himself and one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace an automobile, the body was conceived as a coachbuilt aluminium structure for the simple reason that Jaguar expected to sell no more than 200 XK120s in the first year! Its stunning appearance notwithstanding, the XK120 was conventional enough beneath the skin, being built on a separate chassis featuring independent front suspension by means of wishbones and torsion bars, a live rear axle and drum brakes all round. The car's heart was, of course, the fabulous XK engine. Conceived in wartime and intended for Jaguar's post-war range-topping saloon, the 3.4-litre six embodied the best of modern design, boasting twin overhead camshafts running in an aluminium-alloy cylinder head, seven main bearings and a maximum output of 160bhp. When installed in the lightweight XK120, the result was a car with a phenomenal power-to-weight ratio and blistering performance. The XK120 set new standards of comfort, roadholding and performance for British sportscars and in keeping with the Jaguar tradition there was nothing to touch it at the price. Coupe and drophead coupe versions followed, and for customers who found the standard car too slow, there was the Special Equipment package which boosted power from 160 to 180bhp. With either engine and regardless of the type of bodywork, the XK120 was a genuine 120mph car capable of sustained high-speed cruising. One of only 1,175 XK120 roadsters built in right-hand drive configuration, this early example (the chassis numbering sequence commenced with '660001') was restored circa ten years ago and acquired by the current vendor in 2010, since when it has been used during summer months and serviced regularly. Noteworthy features of this matching-numbers XK120 include an alloy fuel tank, wire wheels and a CMC five-speed gearbox, the latter fitted in 2005 at a cost of around 7,000 (original gearbox with car). Attractively finished in silver with red leather interior, the car is offered with old-style logbook, Jaguar Heritage Certificate, a quantity of expired MoT certificates, Swansea V5 document, current MoT/tax and sundry invoices from Guy Broad and Coventry Auto Components.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood,UK
TypeCar
Lot Number243
Estimate£65000-£75000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£71000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£81020
Year1950
Condition rating
Registration numberONW 769
Mileage-
Chassis number660381
Engine numberW2568-7
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2