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The Thornley Kelham XK European Program reinterprits the Jaguar XK120

The post-WWII growth within the automotive business has been the driving drive behind a few of the most well-known and beautiful automobiles ever made. For those who sift via the Nineteen Fifties alone, you find yourself with icons just like the Austin Mini, Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, Chevrolet Corvette C1, Citroën DS, BMW 507, Fiat 8-V, the Alfa-Romeo B.A.T. automobiles… The record goes on and on. One of many sexiest machines from this point in time, and presumably ever made, is the Jaguar XK 120. This legendary automotive is now a part of Thornley Kelham’s arsenal as the total one-stop-shop restoration specialists have unveiled their XK ‘European’ programme.

With regards to automotive design, most likely the primary nation individuals consider is Italy. However within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, the Brits had been just about on prime of the world. Keep in mind that it was Enzo Ferrari, the godfather of Italian sports-car manufacturing, who as soon as mentioned the Jaguar E-Sort was probably the most stunning automotive on the planet. Fairly a press release by such a number one determine famous for creating fairly some drop-dead beauties himself.

The Jaguar XK120 began out life simply after WWII and was aimed to place Jaguar again on the map as a number one sports activities and luxurious carmaker. It was the primary sports activities automotive constructed after the warfare and the religious alternative for the pre-war SS 100, of which manufacturing stopped in 1939. The curvaceous two-seater roadster was launched throughout the London Motor Present of 1948 and designed as a testbed for the XK engine, developed underneath William Heynes’ supervision (Chief Engineer on the time). The prototype proven to the general public was put into manufacturing just about unchanged. Throughout the six years of manufacturing, it was obtainable as a roadster, a fixed-head coupé and a drophead coupé (with a fold-down material roof).

1951 Jaguar XK120 Fastened Head Coupe –

The Jaguar XK 120 was powered by a 3.4-litre straight-six engine, which produced between 160bhp and 220bhp throughout the automotive’s lifespan (1948-1954). This propelled the XK120 to a prime velocity of 120 miles per hour, or 193km/h, making it the world’s quickest manufacturing automotive on the time. It additionally laid declare to quite a few different velocity information, together with averaging over 100mph over a full week! Prime Gear as soon as “raced” it towards a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle and a Twister steam prepare.

At present the XK120 is a legendary automotive and one that’s extremely wanted. And with the ever-popular development of Restomodding automotive icons (Alfa Romeo Junior, Lancia 037, BMW E30 M3, the Mini, and so on.), British specialists Thornely Kelham have now offered their tackle the XK120, with the XK ‘European’. And it’s not just a few hodge-podge job they did to make headlines. Oh no, it is a correctly spectacular piece of engineering by an organization who’re absolutely outfitted and very skilled within the traditional relaxation. Simply take a look at the video of certainly one of their earlier initiatives, the Lancia Aurelia Outlaw B20GT, and you understand Thornley Kelham actually is aware of what it’s doing.

The Aurelia B20GT you’ve undoubtedly simply drooled over can also be a part of Thornley Kelham’s ‘European’ programme. That is aimed to supply a reinterpretation of a few of the world’s most iconic classics, but with the utmost respect to the unique automotive. Subsequent to the Aurelia, and now the XK120, a Porsche 356 and 911 are additionally within the works. These initiatives all the time revolve across the design, particulars and driving expertise of the automotive.

The Thornley Kelham XK European begins with a derelict donor Jag, a automotive that’s unfit to be on the street however remains to be considerably salvageable. The European Programme permits clients to construct the model they wish to see, with an all-alloy light-weight physique that has been barely redesigned. The person answerable for the “nip-and-tuck” redesign is Paul Howse, who penned the McLaren P1 and 720S. When configuring your XK European, you may select from an entire vary of efficiency, consolation and security upgrades as properly.

The general profile of the XK European seems to be a bit extra fashionable, a bit extra rounded (which sounds unusual saying concerning the already curvaceous XK120). But to me, it loses virtually nothing of its enchantment, because it carefully matches the unbelievable form of the unique. The primary automotive constructed is a fixed-head coupe which had its roofline lowered for a extra aerodynamic and stylish form. The unique fixed-head coupé all the time had a little bit of a bubble-top look to it.

The entrance and rear arches have been barely widened and have a extra pronounced profile to them. Filling the wheel wells are period-inspired wire-spoke wheels however with a bit extra width. The chrome bumpers have been deleted, and the lengthy bonnet now has a delicate crease down the centre backbone to match the break up within the entrance window and washes out within the roof. The bonnet additionally has hand-cut louvres and redesigned vents for higher cooling. The ultimate contact is a extra swooping tail part, which now has extra of a teardrop form.

Beneath that lengthy, swooping bonnet (or hood, if you’ll) is a re-engineered model of the three.4 litres straight-six XK engine. It’s enlarged to three.8 litres and now produces anyplace between 300 and 340bhp, fairly a leap over the unique output (160bhp to 220bhp). It will certainly make for an exhilarating drive, nevertheless it’s good to know the suspension and brakes are up to date as properly, to deal with the rise in efficiency.

The inside has additionally been utterly redone, with digital home windows and gauges, a discreet roll cage and extra. It’s all clad in Connely leather-based, the identical leather-based utilized in Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s. The choices additionally embrace fashionable facilities like air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and in-car leisure. If I had been available in the market for such a machine although, I might hold it as minimalistic as potential. Who wants in-car leisure whenever you’re driving a automotive as attractive as this, with an engine that most likely feels like an absolute dream?

All in all, there’s an unbelievable quantity of element that goes into such builds. The Thornley Kelham XK European takes 5,000 hours to construct, which might simply leap up relying on the chosen upgrades. The paint job alone takes round 800 hours to good. That’s prepping the bodywork, placing primer on, sanding it down, placing paint on, reducing and buffing it, placing clearcoat on, and so on.

As you by now have realized, initiatives like these are costly. Very costly. A few years in the past, a uncommon instance of a left-hand drive alloy-bodied roadster was auctioned at just below USD 400,000, which was the very best value ever paid for an XK120. And should you’re prepared to do some work, you will get one for lots lower than that in the meanwhile! But, given the extent of the work Thornely Kelham has put into their XK European, the beginning value of GBP 550,000 doesn’t shock me. Neither does the declare numbers can be strictly restricted. Oh, and don’t overlook to convey your donor automotive!

I’m positive individuals studying this can be upset by the very fact a Jaguar XK120 is became one thing like this, however relating to rescuing a handful of rundown, rusted-out traditional automobiles, I’m all for it. This fashion we get to see these attractive machines again on the street and hopefully utilized by their homeowners and seen by fanatics for years to come back. If it weren’t for initiatives like this, no less than a lot of these automobiles would nonetheless be rusting away in some barn, storage and even worse, a discipline!

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Editorial Word: The photographs of the silver 1952 Jaguar XK120 Roadster are sourced from and the picture of the cream-white 1951 Jaguar XK120 Fastened Head Coupe is sourced from We maintain no credit to those three photos.