Thursday, 12 January 2017

XK120 Supersonic

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis



The aero-inspired Ghia Supersonic of the early 1950s is arguably one of the most beautiful car designs of all time. While it's usually associated with Italian cars, however, you may be intrigued to note that this one is actually a Jaguar XK120 underneath.
Originally penned by Ghia designer Giovanni Savonuzzi, the first Supersonic clothed an Alfa Romeo 1900, tuned by Conrero and entered into the 1953 Mille Miglia. (Imagine that today - a coachbuilt sports car being commissioned for racing rather than concours trophies...) Subsequent Supersonics can generally be found hiding the guts of a Fiat 8V beneath their slinky curves, although one was based on an Aston Martin, and three upon Jaguar underpinnings.

This car began life as a left-hand-drive DHC, delivered to the Delecroix dealership in Paris, who shipped it over to Ghia along with another XK120 for rakish new bodywork, commissioned by Delecroix customer Monsieur Malpelli. This car is the only one of the XK120 Supersonics to sport a Conrero cylinder head and triple Weber carbs, affording it the gruffness of 220bhp.
Exhibited at motor shows in Paris and London, this car then hit the concours scene, until Malpelli's unpaid bills caught up with him and Delecroix reclaimed the two cars for themselves. In the following decades this one passed through a variety of collectors' hands, before landing with its current owner in 2015. It's got the original tan leather, the original matching-numbers engine, and the original frisson of debonair boulevardier chic. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Spotted at the 2016 Windsor Concours - more pics here.









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