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January 16, 2010

Car Photo of the Day: Unmistakable Silhouette

Filed under: Car Photo Of The Day — chuck goolsbee @ 9:16 pm

While many cars, both before and after, appear to be similarly shaped, none have ever matched the wonderful proportions of the Jaguar XK 120. These cars are rolling art.

Originally produced as a one-off concept car to serve as the platform for the newly developed XK engine in the late 1940s. The XK 120 was ordered by so many people on-the-spot upon being revealed at various motor shows in Europe and the USA that Jaguar started building them right away. First by hand, with war-surplus alloy bodies and partially wooden frames, then eventually a full-blown production line was set up for steel cars.

Its origin as a styling exercise becomes immediately apparent when anyone over the height of 5’8″ tries to drive one. The ergonomics are horrific, with seat, wheel, and pedals arranged for maximum discomfort. Jaguar addressed these issues in 1954 with the XK 140.

You can read my review of an XK 120 here.

6 Comments

  1. I’ve never driven one but I’m sure they are bloody awful. However the style is just magnificent and the above example in particular is exactly my cup of tea. They remind (nay shout at) me that I must do the Mille Miglia (the proper Italian event) before I slough the mortal coil…

    Comment by Mad Dog — January 17, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

  2. MD, they are indeed bloody awful and as CG has pointed out, a good deal of the bad bits were addressed by the advent of the 140. You owe it to yourself to drive an XK, even a 150; the view over that mile-long bonnet, the close proximity of nature (read: the GROUND!) and the ‘legs straight out’ driving posture is something no other car can duplicate.

    If you’re over 5’6″ and/or beefier than about 10 stone, a 120 *is* not a joy to drive, but a 140? Had my parents not sold theirs I might actually choose it over my E Type!

    Let me know if you do the Mille Miglia: i may not be able to participate but I’d gladly lend you my uses as an event mechanic, for the pleasure of just being there!

    Comment by vrooomie — January 18, 2010 @ 7:21 am

  3. Would love to try one, at least for a short drive, as I definitely exceed the cockpit dimensions. Even Chuck’s 65 E is a tight fit and no room for my size 14 gunboats on the pedals. Didn’t stop me from driving it though, worth every contortion!

    Thankfully the TR6 is a bit better in the footwell.

    Comment by markc — January 18, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  4. Size 14? Ow…even downsizing to size 12 driving shoes ain’t gonna help much in a 120! I was offered a ride in a Swift DB-1 Formula Ford once…the joke was I could not possibly fit the car.

    Well, I fit…but my size 12s would not! so much for THAT fun ride…

    ;(

    Comment by vrooomie — January 18, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  5. Big feet kept me from getting a Caterham 7 too. Apparently size 10 is about the max there…

    Comment by markc — January 19, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  6. Heh….Dad always joked (though it’s not a far stretch from truth to joke, here) that British cars were all designed for Archie Scott-Brown.

    Google him….;)

    Comment by vrooomie — January 21, 2010 @ 5:32 am

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