The Big Picture
Celebrating the dawn of the modern era of motoring
Seventy years since the motor show that changed the world.
The 1948 Motor Show opened at Earls Court on October 27 – it was the place where modern motoring really kicked in. It saw the UK unveiling of the Jaguar XK120, Morris Minor, Land-rover, Oxford MO, Wolseley 4/50 and 6/80… a small sports car with the name Porsche on it, the list is impressive, almost every vehicle a game changer in its own way. Some 32 British manufacturers were displaying their wares.
The fact that all this innovation was present under one roof was all the more remarkable with petrol rationing still in place and the shadow of wartime austerity looming large. Companies had to sell three-quarters of their vehicles abroad to get the steel needed to build them in the first place and British purchasers had to sign a contract stating they would not sell their new car on. Trading practices so restrictive that it is all the more remarkable that factories were already producing more cars than they were immediately pre-war.
Of all the cars in the Halls the Jaguar XK120 Super Sports (to give it its full title) was, by many accounts, the star. The flowing beauty of its lines combined with a brandnew high-powered six-cylinder engine rendered most visitors speechless or overcome. The hubbub around the Jaguar stand almost spilled over into a full-scale riot when the doors were opened and it became an immediate hit.the car on the stand was the prototype – 6600001 – it had no bootlid handle and was
‘The hubbub around the Jaguar stand almost caused a riot!’
fresh from development. It didn’t stop the orders coming. In fact, the American dealers Max Hoffman and Charles Hornburg divided the USA into two, with the dividing line being the Mississippi River, to make sure they didn’t step on each others’ toes.
At the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show The Jaguar Drivers Club and Jaguar Enthusiast Club (Stands 2-710, 2-730 respectively) will celebrate the anniversary.
The Morris Minor is another now-iconic Baritish car that debuted at the 1948 Motor Show. On the opening day of the show US dealers Max Hoffman (left) and Charles Hornburg (right), assess the prototype XK120. Their enthusiasm would revolutionise Jaguar’s sense of what could be possible.