The 1954 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic is a unique blend of English engineering and Italian design. It is a stunning car that is bound to turn heads. With its sleek, shapely Italian skin wrapped around the XK120 chassis, the Supersonic is a sight to behold. However, despite its undeniable beauty, the Supersonic is not the most comfortable car to ride in. The cramped cabin is stylish but leaves little room for movement, and there are few vents to release the hot air from the engine.
The dashboard, painted in a two-tone color scheme, is a cool oasis amid the sweltering heat. The Burman steering is light and low-geared, and the Moss gearbox action is slow and methodical. The drum brakes are uninspiring, and the understeer is noticeable when the car is pushed through bends. However, the car’s launch out of corners is impressive, and the ride is smooth.
The Supersonic’s design originated from a one-off design by Virgilio Conrero commissioned by wealthy Swiss enthusiast Robert Fehlmann to compete in the 1953 Mille Miglia. The bodywork was made by Ghia in its Turin workshops, and the elongated nose and tail, enhanced by the low roofline and long side moulding, have become signature details of the Supersonic line.
Novel features include flush-fitting pushbutton doorhandles and a Perspex top that follows the roof profile. The jet-age influence on the car is clear, with the tail-light design resembling that of a jet thruster.
The Supersonic’s unique design is the result of wind-tunnel tests carried out by Giovanni Savonuzzi, a freelance design engineer who combined aviation theory with his automotive dreams. The original prototype made its debut at the 1953 Turin Salon, and with its hubcaps removed and Geneva registration plates fitted, the coupé was entered into the 2-litre Sport class of the Mille Miglia.
However, Fehlmann and co-driver G Vuille had a major accident that resulted in a devastating fire, and the burnt-out aluminum body was beyond repair. Nevertheless, the chassis survived, and Conrero rebuilt the car with a new Giovanni Michelotti design and a removable Perspex hardtop.
The Supersonic’s unique blend of English engineering and Italian design has resulted in a truly remarkable car. Despite its uncomfortable cabin, the Supersonic is a joy to drive, with its smooth ride and impressive launch out of corners.
Its design is a testament to the skill of the Italian designers who created it, and the wind-tunnel tests carried out by Giovanni Savonuzzi have resulted in a car that is both beautiful and aerodynamic. Overall, the Supersonic is a rare gem that deserves to be admired by car enthusiasts around the world.
These stunning automobiles have a way of captivating our hearts and minds, taking us on a journey through time and space. One such beauty is the 1954 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic – a true work of art that merges the best of both worlds.
As I sit behind the wheel of this burgundy GT, I can’t help but marvel at the sleek Italian skin that embraces the tuned XK120 chassis. It’s a sight to behold, with its elongated nose, low roofline, and jet-age-inspired tail-lights.
But as I rev the engine and take to the road, I’m reminded that beauty is more than just skin deep. The low-geared Burman steering, slow and methodical Moss gearbox action, and uninspiring drum brakes serve as a testament to the car’s true origins. And yet, the rorty XK straight-six delivers torque and pace with a howl that sends shivers down my spine.
The Supersonic’s launch out of corners is nothing short of impressive, even though its narrow wheels and pronounced overhang create an ungainly lean through turns. And though its hefty forward weight results in understeer when hurried, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe as I speed down the road.
As I gaze out at the flat Dutch landscape, the Supersonic looks dazzling in the high sun, and I realize that I’m driving a true piece of history. Its sleek, low GT shape evolved from wind-tunnel tests carried out by Giovanni Savonuzzi, a design engineer who combined aviation theory with his automotive dreams.
This car’s legacy is one of innovation, beauty, and speed. And as I drive it, I feel a connection to the past, to the people who dreamed it up and the places it has been. It’s more than just a machine – it’s a symbol of human creativity and ingenuity.
So if you’re ever lucky enough to see a Jaguar XK120 Supersonic on the road, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and the history behind it. Because in this world of mass-produced vehicles, there’s something truly special about a car that was designed and built with passion and skill.
And as for me, I’ll continue to dream of cruising around in this spectacular beauty, feeling the wind in my hair and the power of the engine beneath me.