Jaguar XK 120 – The remarkable history of JWK 651
This book tells the story of one of the six alloy-bodied XK 120s that were prepared by Jaguar in 1950 for racing and rallying. This one, known as JWK 651 because of the registration number it has carried since new, was owned by Leslie Johnson and raced by him in some of the most prestigious events of the time, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Mille Miglia (twice) and the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod.
Beyond that, Johnson and up-and-coming Stirling Moss visited the speed bowl at Montlhéry, near Paris, for a record-breaking attempt and Johnson also took part in the RAC Rally. Besides this diverse and distinguished period competition career, the book tells the story of the later life of this most significant car.
• Competition début at the 1950 Mille Miglia brought a superb fifth place for Leslie Johnson and John Lea, beaten only by three Ferraris and a works Alfa Romeo driven by Fangio.
• JWK 651 could have won the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours: driven by Johnson and Bert Hadley, the car lay in second place after 15 hours and was gaining on the leaders when the clutch failed.
• While Stirling Moss won the 1950 Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod, in Northern Ireland, in another alloy-bodied 120, Johnson finished seventh on handicap to help secure the team prize for Jaguar.
• Record-breaking at Montlhéry: in October 1950 Johnson and Moss averaged 107.36mph for 24 hours and in March 1951 Johnson returned to achieve 131.83mph in one hour.
• A final flourish in 1952 brought another Mille Miglia appearance, which ended in retirement, and an outing on the RAC Rally of Great Britain that saw Johnson reach third place before dropping back to 16th by the end.
• The book includes a wealth of period photographs as well as a portfolio of magnificent studio images.
Authors: Chas Parker & Philip Porter