The Jaguar XK series made its first public debut at the 1948 London Motor Show in the shape of the 130-mph XK120, and its grace and pace caused a sensation. With the road car staying in production for the next thirteen years and racing models taking five Le Mans victories, this must be rated as one of the 1950s greatest sports cars. Jaguar’s XK engine (the first to be designed in-house by Jaguar) then went on to power Jaguar’s next sports car, the E-type for the first ten years of its life, as well as Brian Lister choosing it to power his very successful sports racers.
Sixty XK years could not go unmarked, so a call went out from Britain’s XK Owners’ Club—“meet at Goodwood during August.” With owners from all over the world responding, the result was two days of wall-to-wall Jaguar XKs. These diamond celebrations had already kicked off eleven days earlier with an XK tour starting in the Yorkshire Dales, routing through the Cotswold and Welsh hills and ending at Goodwood on the 8th of August, where the participating cars were then joined by hundreds of other XKs for their time at the circuit. Every manifestation of the marque was in attendance from the first XK120 chassis numbers 02, 03, and 04, through to the last production E-types. Not all were in immaculate condition, making the experience even more interesting, for on wandering through the ranks of cars, some were obviously very original and well used, while others had been restored to a brilliance that far outshone any finish the Jaguar factory could have achieved.
Despite sometimes gray and wet weather, the organizers achieved their aim of making this a diamond jubilee to remember by arranging a host of activities to keep the visitors occupied. Sir Stirling Moss, whose exploits in a C-type around Goodwood are legendary, was in attendance along with Jaguar’s chief engineer, test driver, and racing team member, Norman Dewis, both giving rides around the track to VERY lucky competition winners. We can’t all be winners, so it was possible, by making a small donation to a children’s charity, to ride the circuit with a lesser mortal, and let’s face it, lapping Goodwood in a D-type can’t be too bad whoever’s driving. Auctioneers Bonhams staged an all-Jaguar sale on the Saturday afternoon with some immaculate specimens coming under the hammer, as well as a couple of more affordable “rusty dusty” restoration projects. Alternatively, if visitors were already halfway through a rebuild, there were plenty of dealers selling original and new parts to help the project on its way. Or if all that restoration stuff was not your thing, there were several companies showing recreation models, proving that even after 60 years it’s possible to by a “new” XK. Jaguar’s last two victories at Le Mans in the 1950s were achieved by the Scottish private team “Ecurie Ecosse,” and this achievement was recognized by a line-up of ten of their blue and white liveried cars plus the team’s 1959 transporter.