The Jaguar XK120, as Jaguar’s first sports car after World War II, wasn’t exactly overly rare. A car-mad post-war economy snapped up more than 12,000 of the flowing two-seaters by 1954. But that doesn’t make one restored by the factory for a life-long brand enthusiast (and a model) any less interesting. After all, just look at the photos of this gorgeous car.
Jaguar Classic, the brand’s internal restoration and custom specialist, built the car for David Gandy. To his specification. Gandy, known for modelling, writing, and a production company, is also a noted car enthusiast. Writing reviews for GQ and competing in the Mille Miglia time trial alongside TV presenter Jodie Kidd. In a Jaguar XK120.
This car was designed with an eye on competing in more of those vintage races. That started with the 3.4L inline-six being completely rebuilt over a five-month period. Seeing upgrades from 180 hp to 225, and getting extensive modifications, including steel bracing, designed to give the car better durability on high-speed runs.
There’s a new gearbox as well. What Jaguar Classic calls “racing-style.” That means faster shifts and better durability. Upgraded brakes are fitted, up to the task of stopping the now-speedier XK. Four-piston calipers up front clamping on discs. At the rear, the drum brakes are retained, but have been fully refurbished, Jaguar says. A new suspension features new dampers that are fully adjustable. That’s to let the team tune the car for specific races and events.
“Having driven a Jaguar XK120 at the Mille Miglia in 2013 and 2014, I knew that I wanted to own one of these incredibly special cars. The team at Jaguar Classic have done such a remarkable job engineering this car and executing everything that I asked for and it was amazing to have such an in-depth involvement in its creation,” said Gandy.
The project took a whopping 11 months. That’s more than 2,700 hours of work from the staff at Jaguar Classic’s Warwickshire facility.
Starting with a 1954 car, sourced from California, Jaguar Classic made some other modifications to fit its new owner. Originally, the cars sported two batteries behind the driver’s seat. This car has just one, behind the passenger, allowing for more legroom. A smaller-diameter steering wheel also helps make sure Gandy can fit into the saddle leather seats that are aluminum-backed instead of the stock fabric mesh.
That deep black finish on the car is 13 litres and four coats of paint. Twin aero screens, borrowed from the XK120 Lightweight racers are fitted, along with a racing-look flip-top filler cap. The new owner has taken delivery of the car and expects to use it on the road and in competition.