Post-war Britain had all the potential to be a bleak and miserable place; war torn, fiscally challenged and drained of energy after years of fighting. Sir William Lyons had other ideas. In 1948 the Jaguar boss launched what would become the eternal sports car blueprint and the fastest production car in the world.
Lyons had spent the war years perfecting an elegant and sleek aluminium body design for his XK120, named for the record-breaking top speed it could achieve. When the world reacted to its launch with more elation than even Lyons could have hoped for, Jaguar struggled to build the XK120 fast enough for the demand. Not only were the aluminium bodies attracting regular showroom customers, but the lightweight construction complemented the 3.4-litre straight six tremendously enough to entice racing drivers too. Sir Stirling Moss won his first international race at the wheel of one.
In order to meet demand and save time during the build process, pressed steel bodies were used from the spring of 1950 onwards. XK120 Production lasted until 1954 and kick-started the world's love affair with the Jaguar brand; North America took a particular interest and many left Coventry for a passage across the Atlantic.
The Jaguar XK120 Roadster offered here is one of the most important road-going examples to be brought to the market in recent times. Built on the 12th April 1950, chassis 660064 is one of the first six right-hand drive steel-bodied XK120s to have been made and believed to be the 2nd oldest survivor. It is one of just 1,175 right-hand drive Roadsters built over five years. Being a very early car, it was obliged to be exported when new - hence the km speedo - and spent the first 24 years in the warm and car-friendly environment of Italy.
Perhaps even more impressive than the rarity is just how highly original it remains. The odometer reads an accurate and true 30,997 miles, all of which have been accumulated on the matching numbers 3.4-litre straight-six engine. Also preserved is the original factory black paintwork and red & biscuit trim, both of which display a maturity that is lost on all but a few special survivors. The studless cam covers and tall carburettors are further correct very early features.
A former stablemate of some of the world's most important cars, this XK previously belonged to Sir Anthony Bamford and resided in his collection in Gloucestershire for many years. A detailed history file accompanies this extraordinary XK120 Roadster which also starred in the 'Marques of a Legend' video of the mid-1980s.
...The E-Type may be Jaguar's most famous model, but the XK120 is unquestionably the car that made it all possible. It is without doubt one of the most important British cars of the 20th Century.