The white Jaguar XK 120 Roadster S6 from 1956, 3442 cc, max. speed 190 lm/h

The Jaguar XK120 is a sports car manufactured by Jaguar between 1948 and 1956. It was Jaguar’s first sports car since SS 100 production ended in 1939.

The XK120 is a highly desirable model. In 2016, Bonhams sold a matching numbers left-hand-drive alloy-bodied roadster – one of only 184 – for $396,000 (£302,566). This marks the highest price achieved for an XK120 at auction so far.

The XK120 was launched in open two-seater or (US) roadster form at the 1948 London Motor Show as a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine designed by Jaguar Chief Engineer William Heynes. The display car was the first prototype, chassis number 660001. It looked almost identical to the production cars except that the straight outer pillars of its windscreen were curved on the production version. The sports car caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and Chairman William Lyons to put it into production.

Beginning in 1948, the first 242 cars wore wood-framed open 2-seater bodies with aluminium panels. Production switched to the 1cwt or 112 lb (51 kg) heavier all-steel in early 1950.

The “120” in the name referred to the aluminium car’s 120 mph (193 km/h) top speed (faster with the windscreen removed), which made it the world’s fastest production car at the time of its launch. In 1949 the first production car, chassis number 670003, was delivered to Clark Gable.

Read more: Technologies, transport and equipment ...