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XK 120, XK 140 and XK 150

class e xk 120 xk 140 and xk 150The London Motor Show of 1948 saw the introduction of the XK 120, one of the most important sports cars ever developed. It featured spectacular styling and the brand-new twin cam XK 3.4 litre engine. This was truly a show-stopper. With a top speed of more than 120 mph in standard form, this really was a quantum leap forward.

The aluminium bodied XK 120 was initially intended to be built in small numbers as a test bed/showcase for the new XK engine, a twin overhead camshaŌ engine with either four or six cylinders. There was to be a four cylinder XK100 and a six cylinder XK 120. However due to overwhelming approval and interest in the XK 120 and production difficulties, the XK 100 was stillborn and all efforts were channelled into the XK 120. The original intent had been to use the XK 120 to promote the XK engine in order to interest buyers in the new XK engined Mark VII sedan but it was immediately evident that the planned production of 200 units (240 were made) needed to be totally revamped.

The original aluminium coach-built body and laminated ash frame had to be replaced with modern pressed steel body panels in order to shorten build time to keep pace with the fl ood of orders for the XK120. Production started in 1950. One XK120 came 12th at Le Mans in that year.

The XK 120 in fixed head coupe form was unveiled at the 1951 Geneva Motor Show. It is arguably the most beautiful and graceful of all cars designed by Sir William Lyons. In 1952 one of these averaged 100mph for a week at the Montlhéry circuit near Paris.

In 1953 the XK 120 SE (Special Equipment) was available with a package of performance enhancing updates. Also in that year the XK 120 Drop Head Coupe was available as an upmarket version.

In 1954 the XK 140 open two-seater was released with the SE engine as standard and subtle changes that improved the car but retained its classic looks. The engine was moved forward three inches, rack and pinion steering added and several mechanical alterations improved performance. An automatic transmission could be specified from early 1955. It was also available in Fixed Head Coupe and Drop Head Coupe forms.

The year 1957 saw the birth of the XK 150. Driven by market demands the new model was more a grand tourer that an out and out sports car. In 1958 the XK 150S model had a power increase and in its final version the XK 150S was very quick (136 mph) with the 3.8 litre engine. For all XK 150s braking was significantly improved by servo-assisted disc brakes. The higher hip line of the front guards and bulkier overall appearance were an acknowledgement that aerodynamically a totally new shape was needed. By 1960 the XK range had reached its use by date.