75 years ago, the motoring world changed for ever as a clutch of iconic vehicles made their debuts on a wave of post-war optimism. Here we look at the Jaguar XK120…
William Lyons was a man of high ambition, but grounded in the business reality of managing priorities.
At the top of his list in 1945, and that of his team of gifted engineers including Bill Heynes, Walter Hassan and Claude Bailey, was producing a 100mph luxury saloon car that would match his higher-priced rivals.
He probably had good reason to quietly believe he’d beat them, too.
Desks at the Holbrook Lane works were covered with plans for a new, monocoque saloon powered by a sophisticated straight-six with hemispherical combustion chambers in a double-overhead-cam aluminium head.
With Lyons’ trademark style and commercial daring, a best-seller was in the making.
But another project stirred in the background.
To make the first run of post-war motor shows while the MkVII saloon development ran on, Lyons indulged his affinity for low, rakish lines with an aluminium body over a shortened MkV chassis with the new XK ‘six’ fitted in the nose.