September Sale 2018

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1950 Jaguar XK120 Roadster

Lot No.: 317

Registration: Not Specified
Chassis Number: 660065
Engine Number: W1276-8
Number of cylinders: 6
CC: 3400
Year of Manufacture: 1950
RHD/LHD: Right Hand Drive
Sold for (£): Unsold

 

  • '660065' is the 65th right-hand-drive roadster built and only the 5th steel-bodied example. 
  • All matching numbers with Hollywood celebrity provenance. 
  • Fully restored with over £150,000 spent. Unusual features fastidiously retained 
  • Recently serviced by CKL Developments 
  • The Jaguar Drivers Club has rated 'RPM 89' as 'excellent' in every category. 

 

A car-starved Britain, still trundling around in perpendicular pre-war hangover vehicles, glimpsed the future in October 1948 with the launch of the Jaguar XK120 at the Earls Court Motor Show. Production commenced in 1949 in Coventry, and the XK's swoopy shape and stylish occupants would become a common sight on British roads over the next fifteen years. It heralded the arrival of Jaguar's famous 3.4-litre twin overhead camshaft XK engine, (the basis of all their engines for the next 25 years) with an alloy cylinder head and twin side-draught SU carburettors producing nearly 160bhp. 

The “120” referred to the car's top speed which, at the time, made it the fastest production car in the world. Jaguar seems to have always had a flair for marketing and to illustrate that the car's top speed was not a figment of a publicist's imagination, in May 1949, on the Jabbeke to Aeltre autoroute, an XK120l with its hood and side screens in place recorded a speed of 126mph, and no less than 132mph with the hood and windscreen detached and an undertray fitted.

The car was in almost instant demand and it caught Jaguar by surprise. The first 240 examples retained coachbuilt aluminium bodies before pressed steel, which was less labour-intensive, took over.

Chassis number '660065' is the 65th right-hand-drive roadster completed, only the 5th steel-bodied example, and with so many rare early features, might even be regarded as a prototype. For example the 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 Grey/Green 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 missing 'Owl's Eye' cigarette lighter. 

This XK120 was first owned in California, USA by actor Allan Jones, the father of talented evergreen jazz singer Jack Jones. Allan Jones is probably best remembered for his roles in the movies 'Firefly', 'Show Boat', and the Marx Brothers' 'A Night at the Opera' and 'A Day at the Races' and his wife, Irene Harvey, an MGM Starlet featured in numerous films over many years. The glamorous couple were regularly to be seen in Hollywood in this stylish XK120 and no doubt son Jack, who would have been 12 when the car was delivered, enjoyed trips with his dad. 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 a Red interior and Fawn soft-top. The original registration was 'RPM 89'.

The immediately preceding owner acquired the XK in 1988 and in 1999 had the car restored with due respect for its provenance and importance 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 more recent years 'RPM 89' has benefited from a thorough and extensive service carried out by CKL Developments Ltd, whose detailed invoice for £2,821 is on file along with the aforementioned documentation, and its UK V5C Registration Certificate.

This exceptional Jaguar XK120 Roadster has retained all of those rare distinguishing features from the very early cars, has a glamorous Hollywood history, has been restored to perfection and is now ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.