Wednesday 27th October 1948
The greatest-ever British Motor Show opened at Earls Court, with no less than 32 British car manufacturers exhibiting their wares. It was to be a motoring spectacle the like of which would never be witnessed again. Almost every British manufacturer’s stand included at least one brand new model. These included the Morris Minor from the Nuffield Organisation, the Morris Oxford/Wolseley 4/50 and Morris Six/Wolseley 6/80 ranges, a new Hillman Minx, Austin’s A70 Hampshire, Vauxhall’s Velox and Wyvern, the Singer SM1500 and the Sunbeam-Talbot 80 and 90. Perhaps the star of the show was the incredible fast and beautiful Jaguar XK120, priced at just £998 (£1,298 with tax). The name was based on top speed that made it the fastest production car in the world. To convince the sceptics who refused to believe what was being claimed for the XK120, Jaguar took over a closed section of dual carriageway at Jabbeke in Belgium where, in front of the assembled press, a standard XK120 proceeded to clock 126 mph. With the windscreen removed 133 mph was achieved. Orders came flooding in and Jaguar quickly realised that the couple of hundred originally intended could not possibly meet demand. The waiting lists were lengthened still further after the XK’s racing debut at Silverstone in a Production Sports Car race. The factory loaned three cars to well known drivers, Peter Walker, Leslie Johnson and Prince Bira of Siam. Bira was unlucky enough to have a puncture, but the others finished first and second. Aston Martin presented their “2-litre Sports” at the London show. It attracted little attention and only 16 examples of this £2,331 car were built. The 2-Litre Sports produced from 1948 to 1950, was the first product of the company under new director, David Brown, and is retrospectively known as the DB1. The show also gave the everyday motorist the opportunity to first chance to see a real, live Standard Vanguard and Jowett Javelin, thus far almost exclusively reserved for export. There were the Bristol 401 sports saloons, and the US-influenced Austin A90 Atlantic.