Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia (1952-54)

The 1950s decade was a period when automobile stylists the world over were influenced by developments in aircraft technology, in particular the coming of the 'Jet Age'. This influence would reach its zenith in the United States in the decade's latter years. European designers too fell under its seductive spell. The work of Giovanni Savonuzzi at Ghia, the 'Supersonic' body design first appeared on a Conrero-tuned Alfa Romeo 1900 entered in the 1953 Mille Miglia. In addition to the solitary Alfa and XK120s, the Supersonic design also appeared on an Aston Martin and a number of FIAT 8V chassis.

The XK120 Supersonic is a rare example of an XK120 fitted with bespoke, non-factory coachwork. Only three XK120s bodied in 'Supersonic' style by the renowned Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Ghia were made. Two of them were ordered by a Lyonnias businessman, a Monsieur Malpelli. One is in red (chassis # 679768), and the other one finished in blue (chassis #675090), is known to exist in France while the third example's whereabouts are unknown. (

1952 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia (chassis # 679768)

There are numerous detail differences between the coachwork of the red and blue Supersonics. The red one (chassis # 679768) is the only one fitted with a cylinder head modified by Virgilio Conrero to accommodate three twin-choke Weber carburettors instead of the standard twin SUs. The engine is reputed to produce 220bhp. Following completion of a no-expense-spared total restoration undertaken with the assistance of marque specialists Atelier Sontrop of Pourrain, the Supersonic won 1st prize at the prestigious Louis Vuitton Concours at Parc de Bagatelle, Paris in September 1996. (

1954 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia (chassis # 675090)

(Photos from,, &

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