Collector of the Week: Roger Morrison

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Roger Morrison sent in an email about his 1949 Jaguar XK120 alloy roadster:

Because they were first in the series after World War II, most of the alloy Jaguars have interesting histories. I am the fortunate custodian of Serial Number 670047-6, which was purchased new in 1949 by Brooks Stevens of Milwaukee and kept until 1999. The car was reportedly one of the first three in the United States. His industrial designer eye for style resulted in a two-tone black and Packard crème paint scheme over the original gunmetal grey.

The exhaust system was split into duals with chrome pipes protruding through the rear fenders and aircraft landing lights were added. With this distinctive paint scheme, Brooks could easily identify his car in his home movies of the car’s races. It came in 7th overall in the Seneca Cup at Watkins Glen in 1950. It participated in numerous rallies and races in its early days, including the inaugural Elkhart Lake Road Races. The car finished 3rd piloted by novice driver James Feld in the 67 mile feature race behind James Kimberly’s Ferrari and Fred Wackard Jr.’s Healy Silverstone.

In September of 2010 I participated in the 60th Anniversary of Elkhart Lake with Alice Preston, Brooks’ longtime curator/chief mechanic. In the road rally, she navigated the car to first place in the vintage class in the rain: first time for me with top up. The weather cleared in the afternoon for the Concours and nostalgic brisk laps through the village on the original 3.3 mile open road course.

There are surprising number of obvious and subtle differences between the alloy and the later production XK120s. Ian Furnes, an alloy owner, has made an exhaustive study. He was kind enough to meticulously point out each feature on the Stevens car while I videotaped his comments. One of the most easily recognizable features is lack of side vents for the foot wells.

When I drive the car on an event such as The Colorado Grand or just in the country, I am keenly aware of how advanced the car was in 1949 compared to other sports cars. For value per dollar, style, performance and dependability it was then and is now in a class by itself. The torque from the engine, the distinctive exhaust note, the view over the bonnet and the option to motor quietly or drift through a corner are all tactile and sensory pleasures I appreciate when driving Brooks’ Jaguar.

When I am asked, “What is your favorite car?” I reply, “What is the last car I would sell?” The Stevens Alloy XK120 OTS is definitely one of the last.

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