OPEN SEASON: JAGUAR XK120
We find out just how broad a church roof-down winter motoring can be with a truly classic Jag
This car deserves some sort of epic art deco architecture on the French Riviera as a back-drop, - all palm trees and bold geometric architecture as a backdrop - and a cameraman and camera that's way better than Yours Truly.
But despite the shabby surroundings, this deep-black XK120 just seems to ooze glamour, and that's just what PH Open Season is about - putting some shine on an otherwise grey and cold motoring season with a spot of roof-down motoring.
Next Coys offered us a buzz in an AC Ace that had been retro-fitted with the same HiPo Ford V8 that full-on Cobras got...but that developed a fuel leak, and if there's one thing you don't want spraying all over your rapidly warming V8, it's unburnt fuel...This left the XK120 - hardly a bad 'consolation prize', especially with no fuel leak and worth a far less terrifying £75k.
Back in 1951, though, the XK120 must have felt - and looked - like something from another planet. Indeed, when most other cars on the road would struggle to maintain 50mph, the XK120, courtesy of its twin carb-fed 3.4-litre 160bhp straight six, could hit 60mph in just 10.0secs and 126mph flat-out. In fact, the proud first owner of this car could have cruised through the countryside smug in the knowledge that a car not too dissimilar to it (the C-type) had just won Le Mans - not bad for a car costing around a quarter the price of a V12 Ferrari.
And that's the key to the appeal of a car like the XK120 - its interactive, even recalcitrant nature makes it fun, a challenge and encourages a connection between driver and machine that you just don't get in modern cars. It elevates driving beyond the robotic nature of so many modern a-to-b journeys and reminds you that it is more than just a way of getting from one place to another in convenience and comfort, that it can be just as much about enjoyment and involvement as it is about simple, mechanical transport.