A few of us have had the good fortune to have seen some of Urs' book in proof form, and I recall some very favourable comments a couple of months back from a Lister who had seen these in Paris. I just want to say that, from the proofs, I believe Urs' book is nothing short of magnificent!
He has deliberately chosen to stick with 120s at this stage due to the huge job of covering the field of all XKs, and this has enabled him to really get down to the fine detail. Looking through the proofs, it is almost like he has taken every part of an XK (including detailed engine parts) and photographed the different 120 versions of these side by side for comparison purposes.
An example is the front timing chain cover, shown in different versions front and back. All the blocks and heads are there also and detailed changes to crankshafts. It is like a super parts book with every detail photographically illustrated.
Another feature is the treatment of alloy 120s, where Urs owns one or two very original examples, and they are shown partly dismantled.
A book like Phillip Porter's Original Jaguar XK is also a magnificent achievement, but was written to the requirements of a commercial publisher (limiting things like the final size, number and size of photos etc) and therefore cannot hope to cover in the same depth as Urs has done for the 120.
Also the Porter book is produced at what I would regard as a very modest price and is fantastic value. It appears however that Urs' book is not constrained by commercial considerations in any way and has been produced to satisfy an inner urge to document all about 120s for the benefit and enjoyment of us all. It is full of pictures, fully captioned, and with an attractive up to date layout.
The text is in German but I understand that an English edition is being worked on.The pictures tell the story anyway.
So, have I said enough? If you have the slightest interest in XKs, you should buy this book and marvel at it and get great pleasure from it. If you have the slightest interest in motoring literature you should also buy it. It is a classic already.
I don't know what the price will be but I expect it to be expensive especially for US buyers who, in my opinion, looking from Australia, have always been able to get books nearly for free!
Whatever, the cost will be but a fraction of the cost of production in terms of the years of research etc that have gone into it.
I should now add that it is a magnificent production - everything about it is of the highest quality - for example, the general layout and artwork, and the wonderful photography, crystal clear - and not just of beautiful cars in fields, but the finest details of virtually every part.
There is also evidence throughout of the most painstaking research, with items included such as copies of contemporary advertisements by suppliers (e.g. Champion spark plugs) and also of packaging used by Lucas and others when supplying replacement parts, or for the Minor Replacement Outfit etc.
This book is quite magnificent, and I wonder whether anything comparable has ever been produced anywhere in the world for any other make or model of motor vehicle.
It's been ten years since the release of Volume 1 from Swiss author Urs Schmid and now here is Volume 2! This new edition has 320 pages and more than 1200 coloured and B&W illustrations and continues Urs' dedication to comprehensively documenting the Jaguar XK 120.
Contents are as follows:
Engine Compartment (page 10-27)
Interior (page 28-85), containing Dashboard and Footwell Area, Carpets, Door Trim, Seating Area, Rear Interior and Headlining
Boot (page 86-95)
Weather Equipment (page 96-109)
Body Trim (page 110-123)
Rubber Seals and Insulation Materials (page 124-133)
Optional Extras (page 134-143)
Documents (page 144-171)
Colour and Trim Finishes (page 172-191)
Appendix (page 192 - 320), containing Chronology of XK 120 Trim Changes, list of XK 120 suppliers, list of XK 120 competition successes and a comprehensive chapter about the Swiss privateers and their contemporary XK 120 racing and rallying (never published before).
When the German language edition of this book, Volume 1, was published in the year 2000 (the English version following in 2002) I intended to bring out Volume 2 shortly afterwards. Most of the photographs were to hand and the text was more or less complete.
Ten years have passed since and once again the subject under scrutiny seems to be limitless. As far as the XK 120 goes, Sir William Lyons and his team appear to have deliberately planned to test the patience and research capabilities of future generations. Anyone who attempts to unravel the complex sequence of production modifications and the constructional secrets of the iconic XK 120 sportscar is faced with new issues and queries over and over again. These do not only concern the technical components and the construction of the cars, both of which aspects were covered in Volume 1, but also the characteristics of the equipment and model finishes under investigation hereafter. The appearance and aesthetic aura of the XK 120 are primarily influenced by the design and construction of its equipment, the choice of materials and the colour and trim finishes. In a car's lifetime however, it is exactly these elements which suffer most from wear and tear and changing tastes in fashion. The XK owner who seeks originality above all else will pay particular attention to these points, in the full knowledge that the XK can only fulfil its function as a means for a trip back in time to the sportscar culture of the Fifties when it is as close as possible to the original.
The anatomy of the XK 120 as a cult object would be incomplete without an understanding of the documentation which accompanied the vehicle on delivery to its first owner, of the manuals, catalogues and contemporary advertising material distributed to dealers and garages.
Finally, I feel that a closer look at XK drivers from a historical standpoint would not be out of place: A large part of the XK 120 legend is based on the successes which were attained all over the world in countless sporting competitions. To go into too great a detail of the XK's racing history would exceed the capacity of this book. Yet, using Swiss privateers as examples, it will be demonstrated that the XK 120 could claim to have achieved its own social and cultural value as part of the social elite of its day. Working on the stories of the Swiss privateers discussed in the Appendix turned out to be a fascinating challenge, especially as this part of the XK myth has received until now far too little attention in XK literature.
Kind readers will forgive me that hunting down and following up on all these tracks took longer than anticipated. I hope that the readers of Volume 1 whose patience I have stretched to the extreme with the late publication of Volume 2 have retained their interest for the material and maintained their enthusiasm for the labour of love to which I have devoted my spare time. The overwhelmingly positive reactions of readers to Volume 1 have acted as an encouragement and incentive to carry on with the project and to finally bring it to a conclusion.
The completion of the work would not have been possible without the valuable support of numerous voluntary helpers. In this connection I would like to repeat my thanks to the persons and companies named in the Introduction to Volume 1 who have also contributed to Volume 2. I would like to thank them wholeheartedly. They have all helped to keep alive the legacy of an exceptional automotive creation.
Solothurn / Switzerland