William Lyons and William Walmsley would start the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922. Five years later, the company was fashioning bodies for chassis by Fiat, Austin and others. After joining with the Standard Motor Company in 1931 to build the SSI, the first car to bear the Jaguar name, the company would return to building sidecars for the military during WWII. After the war, Jaguar would debut the XK120 sports car at the London Motor Show of 1948. While the company only intended to manufacture 200 models, the demand for this exceptionally stylish and powerful car with a top speed of 120mph was great. The Coventry-based manufacturing facility was geared up for mass production and the first production XK120 would be delivered to actor Clark Gable in 1950. While both the saloon cars of the 1950’s and the XK series would be popular with buyers, it was the global recognition of the XK120 that would catapult the manufacturer to become a household name in the world of luxury sports cars.
There are several classic Jaguars of the 1950’s that draw the attention of buyers. Below we’ll take a look at some of the main models from this era and the characteristics that you should look for.
Debuting at the London Motor Show of 1948, the Jaguar XK120 was originally designed in Roadster form to showcase the new Jaguar XK engine. Of the XK120 models produced through 1954, the very first 242 examples that featured wood-framed bodies and aluminum panels are perhaps the most rare. Mass-produced steel-bodied examples would begin in 1950. A Fixed Head Coupe option was offered from 1951 and a Drop Head Coupe version would come on the scene in 1953. If you’re looking for a classic 1950’s Jaguar, be sure to check authenticity and be prepared to thoroughly examine for rust.
Running from 1954 to 1957, the classic Jaguar XK140 would replace the XK120 and gave buyers more interior space, better braking capabilities, rack and pinion steering, improved suspension and telescopic shock absorbers. During the XK140 production run, Jaguar would also introduce an automatic transmission option. This was the first time a Jaguar sports car would offer such an option. Wire wheels and dual exhausts were options at the time that today add value to the car.
The last of the XK series to run during the 1950’s would be the XK150, which replaced the XK140 in 1957. It would run until 1961 when it was discontinued. Radically revised when compared to the XK140, the XK150 boasted a one-piece windscreen and new styling that included a longer bonnet. Additional color options for paint and leather were also released at this time. May collectors and enthusiasts prefer the XK150 models, despite the early ones actually being a bit slower than their predecessors, thank to the many advancements that are found in this particular model.
When buying classic Jaguars of the 1950’s, be sure to authenticate any XK model as an original by comparing the engine and chassis numbers to Jaguar records. You’ll also want to perform a thorough inspection for rust, as these examples had little to no rust protection. For more Buyer’s Tips, the Beverly Hills Car Club encourages you to browse the model-specific categories of this website. They also welcome you to browse their online inventory to view the classic 1950’s Jaguar models they currently have at their California classic car dealership. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to connect with their team today!