Cohort Outtake: Jaguar XK 120 – The Grandaddy Of The Modern Sports Car

Jaguar XJ 120

This is not an easy car to just do an Outtake on, given the weight of history it carries on its seductively-curved shoulders. But seeing this one posted at the Cohort by William Rubano just a few days after the 1948 Tasco makes it impossible to resist. The XK 120 was launched in 1948, and set the sports car world on its ear. It sported the brilliant new XK 3.4 L DOHC six engine, making 160 honest hp. That translated to a top speed of 125 mph, and a 10 second sprint to 60. Both those numbers were absolute dream figures at the time. Priced at $3,945 in the US ($38k adjusted), it wasn’t exactly cheap, but the dollar/performance ratio was unbeatable, especially compared to a similarly-priced Porsche with 60 hp.

Kady first car tail

The XK 120 sparked a huge sports car wave that swept across the country and that lasted well into the sixties. It was a formidable competitor at race tracks on every weekend. Its superb sleek lines inspired every sports car that followed it, from production cars to countless fiberglass roadsters cobbled up in the driveway (like future GM designer Wayne Kady’s here) or via body kits available from countless small manufacturers. In the fifties, “the Jaguar” was an icon, and the dream car of a generation.

Jaguar XK 120 eng