In 1948, Jaguar launched the XK 120 OTS model. The „Open Two Seater“ should be replacing the S.S 100 models and attracting new buyers with his new metal look. The shape looks streamlined and was hot stuff at those times. The presentation at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948 caused a sensation. The press cheered: „The Jaguar XK 120 stole the show …“ Originally, the XK 120 OTS with its aluminum body was only a small series – with about 200 pieces.
The glamorous appearance inspired so much that Jaguar was formally overrun by the demand. So it was decided to mass-produce the car and to renounce on the traditional body with aluminum skin over ash wood frame. Instead, the series was made in sheet steel. It took a whole year to start the production and only a few vehicles were delivered. It took until 1950 that Jaguar was able to report the effective production of the XK 120 series.
From the beginning, most of the models were exported abroad, such as the USA or even Australia. This had two reasons. Britain urgently needed foreign currency to buy the missing expensive raw materials, and secondly, England needed a representative vehicle to attract foreign customers to England. The majority of Jaguars were therefore built as left-hand drive vehicles.
The XK 120 also found many prominent buyers in Hollywood who wanted to present themselves with the sporty and stylish sports car.
Compared to its predecessor, the S.S. 100, the headlights on the Jaguar XK 120 are now no longer mounted over the fenders, but integrated into the fender next to the hood. Typical distinguishing features of the XK 120 are the tripods in the headlamps.
Under the bonnet works a 3 ½ in-line engine with 3442 cc displacement with 160 HP with 5000 U/min. Two overhead camshafts drive the valve lift. Actually, the concept of the overhead camshafts from the pre-war days did not have a very good reputation, because it was considered unreliable. But with the XK engine, a new generation of engines was created that stood for reliability and resilience.
The rear axle rests on semi-elliptic leaf springs, the front axle swings on wishbones with coil springs. Drum brakes on all four wheels ensure braking
The Jaguar XK 120 Drophead shown here is a version that was built under the name SE (Special Edition). The spoke wheels and the missing rear wheel coverings are typical, also called Spats. The interior impresses with the dashboard covered with the finest walnut wood. The conventional XK 120 models are covered with leather.
Camshafts with more valve lift, double exhaust pipe and a lighter flywheel bring the SE to 180 hp.
The Drop Head model was built from 1953 for exactly one year and reached a quantity of 1767 copies. By autumn 1954, the Jaguar XK 120 were built. His successor is the XK 140 and later the XK 150. All three XK models can be distinguished very easily on the radiator front.
The XK 120 has a small round radiator opening with very fine radiator fins, in which XK 140, the radiator is more oval and has wider ribs. The Jaguar logo is integrated in the radiator grille and a trim strip runs over the bonnet. The bumper is wide and extends over the entire front.
The XK 150 has as a distinguishing feature a much larger and wider radiator grille. The radiator surrounds the front logo with a framing and a decorative strip runs in the middle of the radiator to the windshield over the hood.
The XK models coined the successful Jaguar image and were built with the cessation of production of the XK 150 to 1961. Because of its success the XK unit was built until 1992.