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Jaguar's XK180 To Star in XK120 Anniversary

Jaguar's XK1 80 roadster - the star of last autumn's Paris Motor Show - will join the celebrations of a landmark world record established by the Coventry-based luxury car manufacturer fifty years ago. In a spectacular conclusion to the Company's XK fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the stunning two seater concept car will speed down the measured kilometre in Jabbeke, Belgium, where, in 1949 Jaguar claimed a world production car speed record for the XK120 roadster.

The Jaguar XK180

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 highway.

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.

The Jaguar XK120

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."

More Information: Communications and Public Affairs (01203) 203321

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CWN / Motoring / Newswire / Jaguar / 19 May 99

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