The Jaguar XK120 was designed to be a prestigious vehicle and produced in low numbers. The designation '120' represented the vehicles top speed of 120 miles-per-hour. At the time, it was the fastest production car in the world.
The British automotive industry was greatly influenced by World War II. Many manufacturers went out of business due to the lack of funds, fuel and supply shortages, or their factories had been destroyed during the war. In order to stay in business, a solid production line was required that could compete with its class of vehicles. William Lyons, owner of Jaguar, did so by creating a new class - one that was faster, more reliable, stylish, and cheaper than any other vehicle on the market.
To gain industry recognition, Lyons knew that he needed a show car that was revolutionary and bold. Lyons handled the styling while his chief engineer, William Heynes, was tasked with designing the mechanical components. When the vehicle was displayed at Ear