Featured: Beware the Black Cat of Pebble Beach Circuit

Beware the Black Cat of Pebble Beach Circuit

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
June 10, 2015
14 comments

Story and Photography by: Joshua Scherling

The Del Monte Forest of Pebble Beach, CA is a serene place on an overcast Thursday afternoon, as the crisp ocean breeze flows a gentle fog through the pines. It is so quiet and peaceful that it’s hard to imagine that between 1950 and 1956, these narrow roads through the dense forest were used as a racetrack.

My name is Joshua Scherling, I drive a 1952 Jaguar XK120 on the old Pebble Beach circuit.

On a small, 1.8-mile rectangular track made up of public roads adjacent to The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the likes of Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, John von Neumann, and Al Moss were racing their Jaguars, Ferraris, MGs, and Allards with only a few bales of hay separating them from the immovable pines.

Phil Hill won the inaugural race here, driving a black-on-red Jaguar XK120 Roadster, in what he would later describe as his most important race win. As I drive my Jaguar along this same route, and its engine note reflects off the forest, I feel closely connected to the automotive history of this special place.

My father instilled in me a passion for vintage cars while growing up in Carmel, and tinkering with his vintage cars. Many of my favorite childhood memories revolve around my father, his cars, and the annual Monterey car week in August. The more I learned about vintage cars, the history of the marques, and motorsport, the more I began to appreciate the 120 ‘Jag’.

To me, it epitomizes what the gentleman racer would have owned in that era. There is not much difference between a production example and the one Phil Hill drove to victory in Pebble Beach—besides the fact his had more aluminum bodywork and larger SU carbs. 

I am the third custodian of this highly original car and it has traveled only 39,000 miles. The previous owner had owned it since the early ’60s, and even though he was reluctant to see it go, he knew it would be enthusiastically enjoyed in its new home in Pebble Beach. I drive it several times a week, and have been racking up the miles as quickly as possible.

What surprised me the most was not only how aggressive the car looked, but the incredible sound and power this car delivers. Sometimes, its sinister looks make me feel as though I’m hiding in the shadow of a pavement-consuming shark; after all, it was the fastest production car in the world in it’s time.

The Pebble Beach races came to end in 1956 after a fatal crash necessitated the construction of Laguna Seca a few miles away. Today, we have the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as a tradition brought forth from the road races; however, I prefer to pay homage to the men and machines that raced here in my own way.

In my case, paying homage by piercing the serenity of the forest with the unbridled growl, speed, and agility that this old black cat still possesses.

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Mark BoxleyJim LevittAlex Sándor CsankChristian PetaDan Glover Recent comment authors
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Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

Looks like an ex Kirk F. White car I was thinking of buying 20 years ago.
I had a white/Red XK 140MC in the mid 1970s. Fun toy for a while but in reality a real truck a low speeds. I also had three E Types along the way

Alex Sándor Csank
Alex Sándor Csank

I have one for sale up here near Montreal, Canada. The colours are the same, and this car still wears most of its original paint and has its original interior. These are fabulous cars, with lines that flow and superb mechanical bits… for their time. Attached is a photo. Contact me at 514-771-9513 if you desire more information.

Mark Boxley

Hello, I’ve recently bought a Jaguar xk120, the one you had for sale did it have a coat of arms by the doors ?
Regards,
Mark.

Christian Peta
Christian Peta

Like some others have said, this is THE Jaguar in my opinion. Utterly stunning, and very glad to hear that you drive it. If the keys were mine, i’d never get out.

Dan Glover
Dan Glover

Truly a beautiful car. Unfortunately one of the most beautiful aspects of this car is missing from your photos: the engine. Jaguar straight sixes are among the most beautiful engines ever made. I failed to think of it while filling out the Petrolicious survey the other day but one thing that would improve this website is some pictures of the engines of the cars you feature. Thanks.

Alexandros Gkiouleka
Alexandros Gkiouleka

This is like a dream on wheels!!

Jono51
Jono51

Nice one!

Marek Paty
Marek Paty

I have been visiting Petrolicious daily for some time and I have felt like adding a comment quite a few times, but in the end I have always resisted the urge to do so. Not this time, though – the photos are simply gorgeous! Everything is perfect in them, the car, the color combination, the scenery…My laptop has got a new wallpaper now.

Dennis White
Dennis White

Dream car since seeing photos years ago of Phil in his. I dunno, I might be tempted to lose the bumpers; gives the car a different look. A beaut in any case and I’m just jealous!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Beautiful Jag , good writing and great photos ! And though the XKSS is my personal favorite kitty the 120’s are stunners as well . Now if only we could convince the powers that be to reinstate the Pebble Beach races even if just for classic ‘ races ‘ . Oh well . We can dream can’t we ?

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

What a beauty. My perfect car.
Petrolicious, you guys are amazing!

Riccardo
Riccardo

Agree with Frank, the XK120 is simply one of the most stunning cars ever designed, its just so perfect from every angle, inside and out, and as a “cherry on the cake” its also fast and sounds lovely.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

Perfect in every way; the car, your writing, photography, everything. Most people are gaga for the E-type but I think it’s this car that is the most beguiling and inspiring of all Jaguars.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Gorgeous