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Jaguar Concours

Broadcast dates : 14th Nov 2004
18th Nov 2004


The SA Style Awards Jaguar Classic went down at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton a few weeks ago and, unsurprisingly, the accent was firmly on "style".

A vast spectrum of Jaguars from the late 1940s to the modern era was on display. The cars ranged from stately limousines from the 1950s to the sports cars that made Jaguar famous.
The XK120 really set things rolling in 1948, with a six-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft engine and twin gulping SU carburetors.

The 120 was the original duck-shaped post-war sports car that saw Jaguar become a volume production car maker, after building much more lavish cars in the pre-war years such as the Jaguar SS 100.
Through the 1950s the XK120 evolved into the more powerful XK140, also gaining rather heavier bumpers and faired-in indicator lights along the way.

The mechanicals were up-rated, but in essence these cars remained true to the extremely low-cost sporting concept that made Jaguar so popular in England, and in the all-important American sports car market.

The XK140 had its engine size increased to three-comma-four litres. It was said to produce about two-hundred-and-ten horsepower by the time this 1957 model was in the showrooms.
It cost just over twelve hundred pounds in those days, and it was reputed to be a hundred-and-twenty miles-per-hour or a hundred-and-ninety-five kilometres-per-hour sports car.
The Style award for The Show, surprisingly, went to a yellow race-prepared XK140, owned by Jaguar restorer John Bird.

This car is fitted with a three-hundred-and-ten horsepower engine, featuring a trio of snorting twin-choke Weber carburetors. Itís a 1956 model, and races in historic car events at circuits like Zwartkops Raceway when its not attracting admiring glances at car shows.
As the swinging nineteen sixties up-turned the establishment, Jaguar had the perfect car in place to become the icon of an era that included The Beatles, miniskirts and soccerís first mega-star, Georgie Best. Itís said that no women could ever resist the allure of a Jaguar E-type with its bonnet that seemed to go on forever, and its cat-like headlight treatment.
This E produces 265 horsepower Ė the English still donít quote kilowatts, old boy Ė at 5400 rpm, and it cost just under two thousand pounds back in 1965.
There were no speed limits in England or South Africa once you were out of the city limits back in 1965.

The original prototype, launched in 1961, was said to do about a hundred-and-fifty miles-per-hourÖ two-hundred-and-forty kilometres-per-hour in todayís terms.

But most experts reckon the true top speed was about a hundred-and-forty miles-per-hour, or two-hundred-and-twenty kilometres-per-hour.

That must have been quite something on skinny tyres and wire spoked wheels on roads that were designed for about a hundred kilometres-per-hour at best!

All in all a wonderful day in Sandton with The Beautiful People strolling by on cue and the champaigne mingling pleasantly with real English steel and unleaded petrol. A high Style day indeed.

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