With current news a little light on, I thought we should turn to our exclusive archives and look back to the famous post-War years when Jaguar was established and the incredibly beautiful XK120 blew the socks off the automotive world internationally.
You need to imagine the world mostly was unaware of ‘Jaguar’, but there was this tiny English upstart manufacturer, even sharing an industrial estate in the suburb of Foleshill in war-torn Coventry. The estate was owned by Dunlop who leased bits if its territory, having moved almost all of its mighty operations to another suburb named Castle Bromwich on the edge of nearby Birmingham.
As life does, Jaguar’s main plant is now in Castle Bromwich adjoining the former Dunlop base!
Jaguar raced the only three XK120s it had at Silverstone in 1949 in what was a production car race. Again it made headlines because sceptics hadn’t believed the car could perform as well as it looked.
The cars raced included the repainted HKV 455, the same prototype, chassis #1 XK120, the car it exhibited at the 1948 London Motor Show and which was slightly different too then at the front and rear.
William Lyons can be seen here with the trophy from that historic Silverstone win, and his chassis #1 (which didn’t win), standing with who appears to be one of his main engineers, Phil Weaver, outside Lyons’ then tiny main office.
The prototype was often repainted and used for a myriad of publicity events.
Here two models pose withe the first XK120 built, and in London, but nobody realised how few XK120s Jaguar had been made then!
Way off in what the British referred to often then as the ‘colonies’, Perth Australia, Jaguar (and Willys) distributor MS Brooking operated out of this former shop in Perth.
Good news though. As Jaguar sales succeeded in Perth so the business grew. In fact, Brookings were so important to Lyons’ dreams that they got XK120 RHD chassis #4 – that car remains in Perth owned for decades by dedicated Jaguar lover Neville Martin. His car was sold new to Spiro ‘Spike’ Michaledis who hill climbed it, and unknown to him, he became the first person in the world to drive an XK120 in any form of competition!
Those are the fascinating stories we publish in Jaguar Magazine – and we include Jaguar across the entire planet!
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