The end of World War 2 saw a mass exodus of famous European automotive companies to the greener pastures of America. Leading names in Europe like Lotus, Mini-Cooper, and Triumph abandoned their home markets and shifted their focus to the United States, where the post-war boom was in full-swing and people had money to spend. Of all the high performance European made vehicles flooding the US market, none had the lasting impact of the Jaguar XKE roadster.
The Jaguar Automotive Company had a long and proud history of manufacturing high performance sports cars in Britain, but was largely unknown to the outside world. All this changed in the aftermath of World War 2, where this small British car maker burst on to the global scene and become an international icon of automotive excellence.
Jaguar enjoyed strong success in Britain for such memorable classics as the Roadster SS-100, but had little impact elsewhere. The advent of World War 2 killed off luxury car sales in Europe, and Jaguar soon found itself floundering in the weak post-war economy. Luckily things were looking much better in North America, with the US and Canadian post-war economies booming. Even though sales were stagnant at home, there was a growing demand for high-performance vehicles across the Atlantic.
Jaguar’s management was well aware that the company’s future survival depended on its ability to tap the luxury car market in America. Jaguar’s design team went to work and eventually came up with a stylish and sporty line of performance cars that would capture the hearts (and wallets) of buyers in America and beyond. This vehicle, the XK120 Dual Cam Roadster, would prove to the Jaguar’s savior and ensured not only the company’s survival, but its gradual dominance of the luxury car market.
The XK120 Roadster was fitted with an extremely powerful engine that could achieve a maximum power output of 5,000 rpms. Such an innovation was unheard of at the time – engines this powerful were the sole domain of custom built race cars and not regular production vehicles. The XKE roadster’s dual-cam ¾ liter inline-six engine belted out an impressive 160 horse power, making the XKE Dual Cam Roadster one of the fastest street legal cars available at the time.
The XK120 Roadster’s unique over head twin-cam design was actually meant for a totally different model, the Jaguar Sedan. The dual-cam setup was introduced as an improvised solution to an engine problem during the testing phase, but was included as a part of the final production vehicle after highly positive feedback from early customers. The 1951 Jaguar Sedan Mark VII, released three years after the Roadster XK120 had the same powerful 3.4L XK-I6 engine.
Upon launch the Jaguar XK120 was lauded for its refined style, high performance and superb handling. The XK120 Dual Cam Roadster’s stylish contours and impressive speeds won it a lot of fans in America, Europe and beyond. The car has a huge following to this day, and is a highly sought after classic car.
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