XK60 – August 2008

It’s 60 years since the much lauded XK engine first appeared in a Jaguar, and to celebrate, the XK Owners club put on a special three day event, 2 days at Goodwood, and one at Cowdray Park. The promise of not just hundreds of XK120s, 140s and 150s, but the massed gathering of many “C” Types, “D” Types and other rarities sounded too good to resist, and so another Forum meet was conceived. Sadly, although the day started out with some patches of blue in the sky, by 10am it was drizzling, and by 10:30 it was raining harder, and with a strong wind, the weather did its best to ruin the enjoyment and the event. We did make it back to the car when the rain eased a little to get winter coats and large umbrellas, both of which were an essential survival element for a day that felt more like late October than high summer in mid August. A form of “apartheid” applied to car parking. “Non Jaguars” were all directed to one field, and then the next furthest away field was allocated to “everything else Jaguar”, leaving the XK150s, XK140s on hard-standing near to the pits and finally XK120s, “C”s and “D”s and cars that were venturing on the track in the paddock area. It is hard to estimate how many cars were there, but we reckoned that there were over 100 XK150s alone, and at least the same number of XK120s. Cars had travelled from far and wide – we noted plates from France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, about half of the cantons of Switzerland, Austria, the USA and even one from Western Australia. Among the many statistics thrown out by the commentator was the fac that the survival rate for these cars is in excess of 60% – who says that old British cars all rust away?

First shown at the 1948 London Motor Show, it is hard to guess just what a sensation this car must have caused. If you compare it to the sort of resumed pre-war designs that were just starting to be produced again, this car must have seemed like it was from another era. It was initially conceived as a show case for the new engine, as Jaguar felt it too risky to put the engine in their production saloon car for which it was designed – the Mark VII – and so decided that a low volume sports car was just the ideal launch point. The huge demand for the XK120 caught Jaguar unawares and they had to revise the original plan of constructing the body from aluminium, to building it in steel. All the early cars went for export, to earn much needed currency for the UK, but eventually the car started to be available to UK buyers.

Visually distinct from thee XK120 with its larger bumpers, and 7-slatted narrow grill, the XK140 was launched in 1955, and ran through to 1958, when it was replaced with the XK150.
This Ghia-bodied XK140 is one of just 2 such cars made, and so has to be considered the rarest car of the day.
Decried by the purists as not the real deal any more, the XK150 was hugely successful, and marked the start of a transition from raw sports car to grand tourer, a theme taken further with every successive Jaguar through the “E” Type to today’s XK
“C” Type
“D” Type
This one was actually a replica, but looked pretty good to me
“E” Type
Although the “E” type also used the XK engine until the Series 3 V12 models arrived, it was somewhat relegated to a position out in the field. A large number of these cars were on show, of course, with every variant to be seen:
One of the initial press cars – the very one which, with a bit of fine-tuning, allowed Autocar to reach 150 mph for the first time in their Road Test:
Lister Jaguar

Ecurie Ecosse
A splendid display of these cars, including the original transporter, powered, as we now know from a recent thread, by a Commer engine. Several of these cars all belong to one lucky (and doubtless wealthy) owner.
Out on the track
Despite the increasingly soggy conditions, there was constant action on the track. No more than 5 cars were ever out there at a time. Passenger rides were being offered in response to a donation to Children in Need, and seeing how twitchy some of the cars were in the appalling weather, this would doubtless have been a somewhat interesting experience. There was a huge difference in speed between the XKR and everything else……….. not a particularly pleasant sound, perhaps, but the high pitched whine from the supercharger of this car was highly distinctive:
Among the drivers were a few well known names. Here is Sir Stirling Moss ready to depart in the “C” Type
Here is that XKR in static form:
Some of the other Jaguars spotted in the outlying car park: Oldest car present was one of the Austin Seven-based Swallow Specials
The 3.5 litre
The SS100 – well, not quite! The various SS100s on show all turned out to be replicas, but presented to such a high standard that to my (untrained) eye, it was hard to tell the difference. You would certainly know it on the road, as these cars had XK6 underpinnings, and would doubtless be easier to drive than the originals.
The Mark V This was the first car that Jaguar produced after the Second World War.
The Mark VIII (with apologies for the rain spot in the middle of the picture!)
The Mark IX
A small number of the well-regarded “small Jag” were on show, mostly Mark 2 cars:
The XJS, in Cabriolet form:
The Eventer – a successful transformation of the standard XJS into a high speed “estate” car of sorts
The XK8 – now a 12 year old model – still looks fantastic. Surely a classic in the making, this car?
Its successor, the XK, was also in the car park, and very desirable it looks, too.
The very latest Jaguars were also on display, and we had a quick look at these, too. The XF is now becoming quite a common sight on our roads, and deservedly so, too.
Another outing for the supremely elegant XKR-S
Whilst the merits of the facelift to the XJ are still unclear, no doubt that this XJ looked rather attractive, and used ones will be a bargain in not many years from now.
Even the “X” type was on show, and looked the part – as an Estate:
Goodwood is getting ready for the “Revival” event next month, and this wonderful Art Deco recreation of the front of Earls Court is in place:
And finally, not a Jaguar……… and perhaps rarer than much of the machinery depicted above, was this: the Austin Gypsy. BMC’s unsuccessful attempt to rival the Land-Rover: Launched in the 1950s, this vehicle never sold well, and is now all but forgotten.
An excellent day, then, not quite ruined by the rain, the wind and the cold………. though had I not had a winter jacket lurking in the car, I could have concluded otherwise.
2009-12-20 19:30:45

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