Not everybody likes the same cars, which is undoubtedly a good thing, but Mr. David Mathers, while outlining his personal disenchantment of his XK150 in the March Motor Sport, makes at least one serious mis-statement of fact which I would like to correct.
In common with most cars the XK150 had its faults, but 1 cannot agree that the car was (to quote) “dangerous” when driven at speed. This is rubbish, no more, no less; the very fact that the chassis design was elderly and that adhesion of the tyres was, by the standards of exceptional sports cars of the era (say, the Elite), rather low, made the XK150 a very easy car to drive fast, with ample advance warning of break away, and a very controllable slide if you did use all the Power on a bend. The initial gentle understeer was also very safe, if unsporting. I also thought that the straight-line stability of all the XK range was a watch-wordeven today I can’t really think of any cars With a similar 120-m.p.h.-plus maximum Speed that feel safer than an XK while travelling flat out; but I can think of quite a few that are nowhere near as good. In short, if an XK150 is described to me as being “dangerous” when driven quickly, then I would immediately suspect a major fault in either the individual car or driver.
Mr. Mathers also ridicules the earlier XK12O’s brakes. To his rhetorical questions, I would reply with others. Do you remember ever driving another car in 1950 which, available new, was even capable of getting 100 m.p.h. on any short straight, let alone braking and then accelerating up there again so quickly that the brakes hadn’t time to cool off? If you can name one, I bet it cost a lot more than the XK120 did. Lyons paid for being a pioneer, combining pre-war racing tar performance with modern streamlined coachwork and small wheels. Above all, let us not forget what was the direct outcome of the XK120—the Dunlop disc brake and five Le Mans wins.
May I also add a quotation, not from a dictionary but from Motor Sport when it tried a new XK150, describing it as “exceedingly fast, comfortable, safe and handsome . . amongst the great high-performance motor cars of the present-day and age”. That doesn’t sound like too bad a recommendation for a collector—in fact I would say that it was an excellent definition of a “classic”.
Enfield Paul Skilleter