When we think of the word 'supercar' in today's lexicon, images spring to mind of wild, angular body shapes perforated by vents, enormous high-performance tires, and a plethora of wings and vanes designed to keep the car grounded at blistering speeds. Not so very long ago, before the 'black art' of aerodynamics became the exacting science of today, an automobile's shape was determined less by drag coefficient than by what pleased the designer's eye.
In 1948, Europe was slowly emerging from the devastation of World War ll, and most available new cars were thinly disguised versions of pre-war models. At the London Earl's Court Motor Show of that year, Sir William Lyons, head of Jaguar Cars introduced a supposedly one-off body to showcase the new 3.4 litre straight six cylinder engine Jaguar was then producing. Originally intended to be the power plant for a new series of sport sedans, the aluminum-head, dual overhead camshaft motor, dubbed the 'XK', was fitted into the Lyons-designed roadster, and it promptly upstaged every other motor car at the show.
Its top speed was rated at 120 mph, hence the XK120 designation. This new Jaguar was literally the Bugatti Chiron of its day; the fastest production car in the world. The public reaction was so overwhelmingly positive to the prototype, that Lyons decided to construct 200 aluminum-bodied examples as a small production run. Demand for the new car was extreme, so in 1950, the factory switched over to steel-bodied cars for large-scale production.
The XK120 would not only turn heads with its sensuous good looks, but it could bring home racing trophies as well. The car competed at LeMans, Silverstone, the Targa Florio, Mille Miglia, the Tourist Trophy, and countless amateur events throughout Europe and the Americas. Famed drivers Stirling Moss and Phil Hill were among the car's many fans. The XK120 also had the distinction of being the first imported car to win a NASCAR race; the Grand National road race at Linden Airport in June of 1954. All imported cars were subsequently banned from NASCAR.
Bowing to the march of technology, Jaguar halted production of the 120 in 1954, replacing it with a nearly identical uprated version labelled the XK140, which in turn was superceded by the XK150 in 1957. The glorious, instantly recognizable body style would soldier on until 1961, when Jaguar unleashed the now-legendary E-Type onto the world stage.
Aeromobilia's Carmen Red XK120 is presented in an impressive 1:8 scale, measuring in at nearly two feet, and was manufactured several years ago by R.A.E. in London for model purveyor Carl Schneider as a part of his '100 Grand Collection' series of models. The 120's shape is captured beautifully, and a full plate of fastidious detail places this model in elite company indeed.
Nestled between the Lucas Tri-bar headlights, the instantly recognizable vertical oval grille sweeps up the hood, meeting eventually with the 'Jaguar Cars Ltd.' badge. Outboard, the high, arched fenders jut aggressively forward, surmounted by tiny running lights, which were, incidentally, not turn signals. Follow the long, long hood rearward, and the split windscreen rises up, defining the cockpit cowl.
The two-tone soft red and beige interior is an eyeful, replicating its real-life version beautifully. The weatherproof leather dashboard features all the instruments and switch gear of the original, including a miniature set of keys in the ignition! This right-hand drive example sports a four-spoke steering wheel replete with a Jaguar-head horn button, as well as a passenger-side grab bar. The shift knob has a readable 4 speed pattern on top, and the door panels have all appropriate fittings, including 'rope' lever pulls and map pockets.
Following the flowing boot further aft reveals the chromed tail light housings, license plate light, boot handle and perfectly scaled bumperettes. The single exhaust pipe identifies this 120 as having the standard 3.4 litre engine configuration.
Now on to the impressive wire wheels. The finish falls somewhere between the original silver paint and chrome, which were both available in the 1950's. It's really the best of both worlds; not too dull, not too shiny. The wires are shod with Dunlop Roadspeed tires, which are solid, preventing deformation under the model's considerable weight. The two-eared knockoffs are engraved with 'Jaguar' text, and include the word 'undo' with an arrow pointing toward the loosening direction. Remarkable!
We've included our faithful little 1:43 scale Ferrari 500 Formula 2 model in one image to emphasize the massive presence of this XK120 model. It is supplied with its original mahogany base, measuring 24"x12", and packs a substantial visual punch wherever displayed. These XK120's are long out of production, and finding another in this condition would be a rare prospect!
N.B. A really impressive display could be created by combining this XK120 model with the 1951 Watkins Glen participant's medallion, shown on the Home Page, which prominently features the 120. A package price can certainly be considered. Please email us for details.