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.
JAG 120 belonged to Bob Kerr from Luss and was British Racing Green. Bob raced it at Doune regularly and did quite well. It was equipped with 3 twin choke SUs; the only ones I have ever come across.
Both Jamie and Bob were close rivals at the time.