by Dr James Fraser
2019 review by Anders Ditlev Clausager
This is a quite astonishing picture book, and I guess there may be more than the 1200 illustrations claimed. I am amazed that it has been possible to find so many pictures of the XK 120 in races and rallies, and even so this is only part of the story, as it covers just the UK and Europe. Maybe we can look forward to a volume 2 covering the USA, Australia, and everywhere else. The accompanying captions are concise but more than adequate.
The book is split into three main sections covering respectively racing 1949-59, rallying 1949-59, and motor sport 1960-2018, each arranged chronologically by event. There are shorter sections on featured cars, describing ten famous XK 120s, and discussing the technical aspects of the car, with regards to modifications made for competitions, starting with the brakes which were a notoriously weak spot. There are reprints of original articles by Ian Appleyard and Bob Berry, two of the most famous XK 120 drivers.
There are useful tables cross-referencing drivers, registration marks, and chassis numbers, as well as excellent indexes. One could be very sniffy and complain that the book is unlikely to be a complete listing of all XK 120 entries or results in races or rallies, but then there are websites catering to the complete nerds among us! The balance is clearly in favour of UK events. There must have been more XK 120s entered in Continental races, but presumably pictures are more difficult to source.
Books published by Paul Skilleter are invariably of very high quality and this is no exception. The photos are generally beautifully reproduced, only a few are slightly grainy, and many are blown up to best advantage in full double-page spreads. There is a surprising amount of early colour photography, which is wonderful. The layout and design are understandably very busy, with pictures and captions jam-packed on each page, sometimes rather tight. One small touch which I appreciate is that most photos are individually credited, setting an example which all authors and publishers would do well to follow. This is an excellent and attractive book, but at the price will probably appeal mostly to the dedicated Jaguar enthusiast.
Publisher: PJ Publishing Ltd, www.paulskilleterbooks.co.uk
Price: £195. Available from the publisher.
Description: Hardback with dustjacket (305 x 230 mm), 486 pages, illustrations in colour and black and white.