Monday, 7 September 2015

Jabbeke XK120

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

This slightly odd-looking Jaguar boasts two thrilling features: firstly, it's the only XK120 to hold a Land Speed Record; secondly, it's got a Perspex bubble for the driver's head that makes him look like some sort of dapper astronaut.
Built in 1952, the car began its life as a mule for Jaguar's Works Competition division, which involved a baptism of fire competing in the Rallye International des Alpes among much else. But it was 1953's record-chasing endeavours that sealed its fate as a perennial Jaguar curio - with Norman Dewis at the wheel, the car achieved a staggering 173.159mph on Belgium’s Jabbeke motorway (hence its nickname). Its first run at Jabbeke in '53 actually clocked a more modest 143mph - still a record, mind - although this was quickly beaten by a V8-engined Pegaso. Jaguar weren't having any of that, so they set about streamlining MDU 524 to see what it could really do. The distinctive Perspex bubble is the most obvious of these efforts, and the results spoke for themselves.

As is so often the way with performance development cars, the XK found itself being sold into private hands and competing in club racing, with its unique aero mods being discarded along the way. However, its new American owner, Jeff Lotman, was keen to preserve the history of a genuine Land Speed Record car and, in 2011, commissioned JD Classics in Essex to restore it to its 1953 glory - a job that took eighteen solid months. It went on to win Best In Class (Post War Racing) at The Quail, which made the endeavour thoroughly worth the effort.

Spotted at Salon Privé 2015 - more photos here.

No comments: