Jaguar XK120 caused an absolute sensation when it was launched at the 1948 Motor Show. In the post-war era of rationing, general austerity and hardship it came as a stunning vision of what the future might hold. It was, without doubt, the most beautiful car in the world, and the fastest un-supercharged production sports model ever made up to that time. Its claimed top speed of 120mph was so astonishing that to prove it Jaguar took one over to Belgium and clocked 132mph!
The response from the public at the Motor Show launch on 20th October 1948 caught Jaguar by surprise, and as orders poured in it was immediately obvious that the level of home and export demand could only be satisfied by moving from a lightweight alloy-bodied ash frame construction to tooling up for volume production in steel. This took time to achieve and the first 57 right hand drive cars, and 183 left-hand drive cars, were hand-produced in lightweight aluminium alloy.
Throughout the 6-year production run, Jaguar manufactured a mere 609 RHD roadsters for the home market and we are proud to be offering one of them here today. In fact, this is even more exclusive in that it was completed in June 1950 and is the oldest XK in South Africa and proudly features in the book “The Jaguar XK120 in The Southern Hemisphere” by John Elmgreen & Terry McGrath. The XK was first delivered to a Mr. A. Reid-Walker and registered in the name of Mrs Catherine Elaine Reid-Walker then of Ackleton Manor, North Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, finished in Jaguar Red with a tan leather interior.
The car was exported to South Africa in February 1951 by Reid Walker who was a Scottish businessman on a six-month tour. It was tested by a reporter from the Johannesburg Sunday Express and pictured in that paper on the 11th February 1951 (a copy of the ad is in the book). By the 14th of May 1951 the car and its owner were back in England competing in the 9th Scottish Rally where, still sporting its South African plates, it finished 3rd outright. It is assumed the car had been purchased and taken to South Africa for the required period to overcome restrictions on buying new cars in the UK.
The car returned to South Africa at some stage thereafter and was apparently acquired by a Swiss national in Johannesburg who enjoyed the XK on a daily basis and attended to any restoration works as and when required. When the owner returned to Europe in 1966, he sold his Jaguar to Mr. Erich R. Exner of Bramley, Johannesburg who later restored the car before is passed to his son Wayne. In 1973 the car appeared at the motoring Memories event at the then new Carlton Exhibition Centre in Johannesburg. In 2003 it was sold to Bruce Leslie of Johannesburg and he reported that in 2007 it was in excellent condition, finished by then in white with red trim and fitted with an aluminium undertray. Given the rarity, provenance and the fact that this is the quintessential roadster model, this original and unmolested sportscar is a fantastic investment opportunity for the true collector.