The Jaguar XK120 was a stellar sports car—perhaps the most advanced of its era. Powered by a dohc, straight-six engine that was a Jaguar hallmark for a half century, the vehicle could exceed the elusive 120 mph tick on the speedometer (thus, the numeric portion of its name). The fluid shape of the 1948 XK120 roadster, the model’s first iteration, was the design of Sir William Lyons. By the 1951 model year, a fixed head coupe version had joined the roadster; this brilliant red example is from 1952.
The aerodynamic form of the FHC recalls the prewar Bugatti Atalante coupe in profile, but the overall design is more contemporary and unlike that of any other car of its time. Jaguar improved upon the XK120’s performance with subsequent models—the XK140 and XK150—but neither is as elementally satisfying to admire as the original.