1950 Jaguar XK 120
Year of manufacture1950
Number of seats2
A fully restored example with over £150,000 spent
1950 Jaguar XK120 Roadster
Registration no. RPM 89
Chassis no. 660065
'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.
The XK120 was produced until 1954 and would prove to be the most popular of the XK series, with 12,078 examples built, of which only 1,175 were right-hand drive roadsters like that offered here. Chassis number '660065' is the 65th right-hand-drive roadster completed, and only the 5th steel-bodied example. The original chassis plate, probably nickel plated originally but now polished back to brass, shows large valve clearances of 0.012" and 0.015", which were reduced on later cars. Another interesting feature is the engine number's compression ratio suffix; Jaguar evidently thought it would be 7:1 (common on cars destined for export) then over-stamped the '7' with an '8' before completion.
As a very early car, '660065' lacks the cockpit cooling vents in the front wings that were adopted soon after it was made. The engine too has all the correct early features, including the 'studless' cam covers and needlessly lengthy plug leads. The latter travel from the distributor, down the side of the cylinder block, up the rear of the cylinder head, and then all the way back to the front of the engine again. This makes them around two metres in length! Jaguar soon recognised the wisdom of taking the leads from the distributor straight over the cylinder head. Another distinctive under-bonnet feature is the so-called 'stovepipe' SU carburettors, which have unnecessarily tall dash-pots. Later XK120s had noticeably lower and more practical ones. Also worthy of note is the beautiful cast-aluminium radiator fan, an expensive-to-produce item that was soon superseded by a cheaper pressed steel alternative. Another expensive feature is the hood frame: fully chromed on this early model but painted on later cars. Inside the cockpit, the indicator switch is noticeable by its absence; these would soon become standard but were not fitted to early cars such as this one. '660065' also retains the rare and often stolen 'owl's eye' cigarette lighter.
This XK120 was first owned in California, USA by actor Allan Jones, today best remembered for his roles in the movies 'Show Boat', and the Marx Brothers' 'A Night at the Opera' and 'A Day at the Races'. He was the father of pop singer Jack Jones. The accompanying Jaguar Heritage Trust Certificate reveals that '660065' was built as an open two-seater with right-hand drive and supplied for 'Personal Export Delivery'. The first owner is recorded as 'A Jones' and the original colour scheme as Pastel Blue with red interior and fawn soft-top. The original registration was 'RPM 89'.
In 1988 the XK passed to a new owner, who in 1999 had the car restored to perfection by renowned marque specialist Lynx Motors International Ltd, using many parts supplied by Guy Broad. Over £150,000 was spent to make the XK as good as, if not better than, the day it left the Brown's Lane factory. The Jaguar Drivers Club has rated 'RPM 89' as 'excellent' in every category, with a general comment of a 'very high quality restoration'. All receipts relating to the restoration are available.
In June 2015, the XK was offered from its deceased owner's estate at Bonhams' sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (Lot 361) where it was purchased by the immediately preceding custodian. In September 2016 'RPM 89' benefited from a thorough and extensive service carried out by the highly respected CKL Developments Ltd, whose detailed invoice and report is on file (perusal highly recommended). CKL comment: 'Its greatest claim to fame is it is such an early car, in such great and complete condition'. The current vendor purchased the XK at Bonhams' Bond Street Sale in December 2016 (Lot 29), since when it has been kept garaged.
Now exempt from the annual MoT test, this exceptional Jaguar XK120 roadster is offered with the aforementioned documentation and a UK V5C Registration Certificate.