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Top Gear XK120 in the Twyford Moors workshops

Clarkson, Hammond and May with a Jaguar XK120This week we have been working on the Jaguar XK120 drophead coupé driven by James May on Top Gear back in 2009. This XK featured in a race between three different forms of transport dating back to 1949 from London to Edinburgh. Jeremy Clarkson was in a railway locomotive known as the Tornado which was a recreation of a 1949 Peppercorn A1 and Richard Hammond rode a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle.

Unsurprisingly to all of us Jaguar enthusiasts the XK120 won the race and we suspect was probably the most comfortable mode of transport for the trip. This XK did however bend the rules of the race a little. The race was supposed to be between 1949 vehicles however the drophead was not launched until 1953 so Mr May should not have had the luxury of winding windows and a walnut dashboard. Furthermore this car has been extensively modified with disc brakes, a five speed gearbox and an electric cooling fan putting it at something of an advantage over a standard XK120.

None of this should detract from the great achievement of this race though. The XK120 and Vincent had to drive along roads, in modern driving conditions, with modern cars and heavy traffic. A few sympathetic upgrades are very sensible if not essential to this kind of trip and serve to improve what was a groundbreaking design in 1949.

This was a great race put together by Top Gear and we hope to see Clarkson, Hammond and May making use of other wonderful classic cars vehicles in the next series of The Grand Tour.

Top Gear XK120 at Twyford Moors

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