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by Adam Lynton
One of the most beautiful cars ever built is heading to auction at the Goodwood FOS this weekend.
A car that was conceived and constructed in just a few months, when it debuted at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show the breathtaking XK120 roadster caused a sensation. Not only did it claim a top speed of 120mph, which made it the world's fastest production car, it also had one of the most beautifully shaped bodyworks people had ever seen, and remains today one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace a vehicle.
Jaguar boss William Lyons designed the car, whose body was conceived as a coachbuilt aluminum structure as Jaguar did not expect demand to exceed 200 in its first year. It was immediately apparent that the alloy bodywork was simply too time-consuming to make, so it was swiftly reengineered from steel. At its heart was the magnificent XK engine; the 3.4-liter six was at the pinnacle of modern design, with twin overhead camshafts running in an aluminum-alloy cylinder heads boasting an output of 160hp. Coupled with its lightweight body, the XK120 had a phenomenal power-to-weight ratio and was blisteringly quick.
Once it hit the showrooms, there was nothing that came close in its price range. It set the benchmark in terms of performance, comfort and handling, and it wasn't long for coupe and drophead coupe models to follow. This particular model was one of only 1,175 XK120 roadsters built in right-hand drive configuration, and was fully restored around ten years ago. Noteworthy features include wire wheels, a CMC five-speed gearbox, and an alloy fuel tank. It is finished in silver with red leather interior and Bonhams expect the car to sell for between $100,000 and $120,000.