Happy 70th to Jaguar’s XK

cars from around the globe flock to shel­s­ley Walsh to cel­e­brate XK70

Classic Cars (UK) - - Month In Cars -

Shel­s­ley Walsh hill climb was be­sieged with Jaguars cel­e­brat­ing 70 years since the XK120 and its XK twin-cam en­gine were jointly launched. The XK70 event, or­gan­ised by the XK Club, drew cars and en­thu­si­asts from as far away as Aus­tralia and at­tracted XKS with spe­cial his­to­ries.

XK120 NASCAR

Lau­rent Sch­nei­der came to the event from France with a 1952 XK that won the first ever NASCAR road race, the In­ter­na­tional 100 held over a two-mile course on Lin­den air base, New Jersey on June 13, 1954. ‘This is its first time back in the UK since it was ex­ported to the US im­porter in New York June 1952,’ Sch­nei­der ex­plained. ‘I found it in Cal­i­for­nia three or four years ago – and the her­itage cer­tifi­cate stated that it had won this race. I only de­cided to come here three weeks ago so I gave it a quick paint job and did the brakes, ra­di­a­tor etc.’ Ac­cord­ing to the Her­itage Cer­tifi­cate the first owner was Mar­garet White­man. ‘She was mar­ried to NASCAR racer Paul White­man, so I call the car Mar­garet.’

The car was driven by Al Keller in the race, one of 21 Euro­pean cars in a 43-car field, ‘It was one of four Jaguars in the top 10. The Euro­pean cars didn’t use as much fuel, and af­ter that NASCAR didn’t al­low for­eign cars to run.’

Mille Miglia C-type

Joel Berg demon­strated his 1952 C-type on the hill. ‘It’s pretty nar­row, a bit scary,’ he said, de­spite hav­ing tack­led the Mille Miglia ret­ro­spec­tive shortly af­ter the car’s most re­cent restora­tion. ‘XKC016 had a bad crash on the 1953 Mille Miglia and was writ­ten off.’ The ac­ci­dent hap­pened at night when Pierre Vignon and Luc Decol­langes hit a level cross­ing and rolled, Vignon dy­ing from his in­juries. Af­ter that the car was stripped for parts and left in a French yard. ‘It was dis­cov­ered in 1972, but the restora­tion was quite bad, par­tic­u­larly the front of the chas­sis and some of the body pan­els. Now there’s not one washer that was made af­ter 1952 – but some peo­ple crit­i­cise its au­then­tic­ity.’

Paris Show XK120

The ninth al­loy-bod­ied XK120 road­ster built, im­ported new by Jaguar deal­er­ship Royal Elysées and star of the 1949 Paris show, was driven up from An­necy by owner Paul Gal­le­gos. It was one of 30 XKS that came up from France. ‘Apart from when I had it re­trimmed this is its first proper trip to the UK since it left Coven­try in 1949,’ said Gal­le­gos. ‘It’s a well-sorted car and I don’t be­lieve in trans­port­ing them.’ He bought the car in 2007 in need of restora­tion. ‘It had been off the road for 30 years. One of the worst parts of the project was work­ing out how far to go. I wasn’t go­ing to re­place the tim­ber frame but I ended up hav­ing to.’

XKS were in their el­e­ment pow­er­ing up the hill at Shel­s­ley Walsh

1949 XK starred at that year’s Paris show

C-type was writ­ten off in 1953’s Mille Miglia

1952 car won the first NASCAR road race

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