The Jaguar XK120 marked the beginning of the post war era of fast elegant roadsters. Originally only planned as a show car and test-bed for Jaguar’s new XK engine it drew so much public attention that it was put into production. Its success was to put Jaguar on the map as a luxury car maker.
The Jaguar XK120 was a glamourous escape from the years of post-war austerity. The interior was beautifully appointed in leather and walnut. The convertible was available in two versions: the Drop Head Coupe with a lined canvas top, taller doors and wind up windows (a novelty in their day) or the Roadster or Open Top Sports (as it was known in the US) with a light-weight roof and barchetta-style doors with no external handles and detachable side-screens.
The first series of 242 cars were with hand-beaten aluminium body panels but as demand continued to grow Jaguar brought in automation during 1950 to press body parts from steel to speed up production. Despite being a fast luxury car the Jaguar was priced competitively undercutting many rivals from Europe and America.
Standard cars were tested and found to reach beyond 120 mph thanks to the legendary straight 6 XK engine with its aluminium cylinder head and twin overhead camshafts.