There are certain products and goods — from fashion to foodstuffs — that find natural homes far from where you’d expect. Just look at fine champagnes, corked in sleepy France but popped in the penthouses of New York. Or Savile Row suits, crafted in London but buttoned up in the boardrooms of Shanghai. Even yachts, built by hand on the blustery British coast, look at home at anchor in Monte Carlo.
Add to that list the Jaguar XK120. Debuted at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Shows — just a few short months after its conception and construction — this particular model now resides on the sandy blue coastline of the United States. And it looks like it’s lived there all its life.
Back when it launched, the chief engineer of Jaguar claimed that the XK120 could reach 120 mph — a speed unheard of for a production car in those days.
Beneath the skin, the car’s heart was the famous XK engine. Originally engineered for Jag’s post-war, range-topping saloon, this 3.4-litre six embodiment the best of modern design, and had a maximum output of 160 horsepower.
And it wasn’t only striking in its power. Comfort and handling was also second-to-none, and led to this becoming one of the best cruisers of the post-war years. We’re especially fond of the iconic covered rear wheels, streamlining the XK120 even further and giving it a look that could render it even older than the late forties.
This particular model, up for auction at Bonham’s, first roared to life inside Jaguar’s Coventry facility in September of 1951. Originally finished in Pastel Blue — with a fawn convertible top — this left-hand drive Roadster was destined for the US market and was dispatched to Hoffman Motor Car Company in New York just three weeks later.
We like the rich, red interior almost as much as the rear wheel covers. Restored in demure Dove Grey paintwork, it’s a match made in automotive heaven, and the lighter colour suits the sleek curves of the bodywork.
So, if you’re after a spirited open-air driver, or frequent touring events or car shows, this could be a great opportunity to acquire a car that was before its time, classically styled, and with design quirks that place it at the front of Jaguar’s already pedigree pack.