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Jaguar XK120 Unveiled a month after the Mark V at the Motor Show in 1948 was Jaguars new sports car: the XK120, powered by the 3.4 litre twin overhead camshaft engine developed for the big Mark VII saloon. The XK120, so named to respectively reflect its engine and top speed, represented a milestone in British sports car design and its success took Jaguar by surprise.
This was the sports car that had everything: a roadster body more beautiful than anything even Jaguar had produced before; an immensely strong chassis; and an engine so sophisticated that it looked as though it should have graced a Grand Prix racer rather than a 998GBP sports car.This was not only the first pure bred Jaguar engine, it was also the worlds first mass production engine with twin overhead camshafts and hemispherical combustion chambers.
The advantage of such an engine layout was in the additional power it could generate, however numerous disadvantages had to be overcome first: noise from the long chains or gears needed to drive the camshafts; manufacturing difficulties which meant that they would inevitably cost more; potential unreliability; and difficulties during services.
Heynes, Hassan, Baily and Mundy expressed their reservations, but Lyons would not settle for second best and insisted that the engine must have a twin cam, and it also had to look good. The result was a sensational six cylinder in line XK unit that produced no less than 160 bhp from 3442 cc, enough to propel the XK120 to more than 120 mph hence its designation XK120.