The anniversary of the XK120's record-breaking 132.6 mph run will be celebrated on 30
May this year, exactly fifty years after the original record, was established, on a
deserted stretch of motorway near Jabbeke.
With the active support of the civic authorities in Jabbeke and the Belgian
authorities, a stretch of dual carriageway near to the original motorway will be closed to
allow the celebrations to take place. Closure of the road exclusively for this event has
been granted because of its historic and international importance to the community of
Jabbeke and to Flanders.
Jaguar also plans to run a series of historically interesting XK-engined cars along the
highway in addition to the XK180 roadster - which was conceived as the spiritual successor
to the great XK-engined Jaguar roadsters of the fifties.
British and European owners of historically significant XK-powered cars will also
participate in the special celebration runs down the 2.8 kilometre stretch of closed
Mike Beasley, Executive Director of Jaguar, said:
"Jabbeke is a very special place for Jaguar. In the late nineteen forties it was
one of the very few stretches of motorway in Europe available for high speed testing and
was an ideal venue for Sir William Lyons and his engineers to demonstrate the performance
potential of the XK1 20.
"Those high speed runs, fifty years ago, have become indelibly etched into the
heritage of the Jaguar marque. Returning to Jabbeke this year will be an appropriate and
nostalgic climax to the XK fiftieth anniversary celebrations.'
The town of Jabbeke lies just west of the Mediaeval city of Bruges alongside the main
Ostende to Brussels motorway. It was here on the morning of Monday 30 May 1949 that a
group of British and European motoring journalists gathered to watch the recently
announced Jaguar XK120 sports car demonstrate its performance potential.
Driven by Jaguar's chief test driver Ron 'Soapy' Sutton, the XK 120 (Reg. number HKV
500) sped along the specially closed section of motorway at 126.594 mph. This was with the
convertible hood and windscreen in place.
A few minutes later, with the hood removed and the aero screen fitted, the XK120 raised
the top speed to 132.6 mph - a record for a standard production car.
Officials from the Royal Belgian Automobile Club timed the record-breaking runs.
"We certainly won't be trying to break production car records again this
year," said Mike Beasley.
"But we will be re-creating a very special moment in jaguar's history. We are able
to do this because of the enthusiastic co-operation and support of the Mayor and council
of Jabbeke and the authorities in Flanders and Belgium. For all enthusiasts of the Jaguar
marque, it will, I hope be a memorable event."
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