Launched at the London Motor Show in 1948, the XK120 was the show car for Jaguar’s new XK engine. The design of new vehicles in post World War II, was somewhat still stuck in the days of pre-war design technology. When Jaguar lifted the covers on the XK120, there’s no doubt the XK would have looked like something from the future, with its curvaceous lines flowing front to rear, and not to mention the incredible new engine which had been secretly developed during the war.
The engine was a 3.4 litre straight-six twin-cam engine, producing 160 bhp with a 4-speed Moss gearbox that was capable of pushing the XK120 to 120 mph. This made it the fastest production car in the world at that time.
Available in three variants the XK120 came first as a 2-seater roadster, then followed the fixed head coupe (FHC) in 1951, and finally, the one we have here today, the drophead coupe (DHC) in 1953. Originally, the first 242 cars produced were constructed using an ash wood frame covered with aluminium panels.
With sales high and demand strong for the XK in 1950, the construction was switched to the slightly heavier all steel construction, but the production would be much quicker and easier, enabling Jaguar to keep up with demand.
The seller of this 1953 jaguar XK120 purchased the car 30 years ago, where it was located in California in kit form! Someone had stripped the car to start the restoration but never got around to finishing it, and so the seller purchased it as it was, and had the car and parts shipped over to the UK.
Once in the UK the car was fully stripped and stored up until 2003, when the seller retired, and he took on the project of finishing the restoration. The car was fully stripped back to bare metal, (there is photo evidence of this), in preparation for the lovely bright red paint it has been finished in. Nothing has been left untouched.
The engine has received a full rebuild with new or refurbished parts and the interior has been retrimmed in the wonderful tan leather. The car now resides in Spain where the seller has enjoyed several car tours around Europe. A spotlight moment is that the XK120 was used in a short film for the Cannes Film Festival.
Unfortunately some health issues have brought on the regrettable sale of the Jaguar XK120.
There is a nice documented folder of photographs taken during the restoration. A Jaguar heritage production certificate is supplied, and also the Spanish log book is present.
Inside, the Jaguar has been retrimmed in the original tan coloured leather, and this work, along with the new roof, was carried out by Aldridge Trimming. The seats are in excellent condition with no signs of wear to them. Just behind the seats is a storage area, again trimmed in leather to match. The door cards are in matching leather and topped with burr walnut which leads onto the dashboard.
The dashboard is in lovely condition with no signs of any cracking to the walnut finish fascia. Centre stage are the collection of instruments, which are all in good order and reported to be working as they should. The odometer is showing 72,255 miles, but this may change. The steering wheel is a Moto-Lita four-spoke with a wood rim, and this is in good condition with no real signs of excessive wear.
The red carpets are generally in good condition, with just some light wear to the driver’s heel pads and some very light scuffs on the passenger side. In the boot area is a matching red carpet, which is clean and tidy.
This XK120 is finished in bright red and is in a very well presented condition. As mentioned, the car was restored in 2003, and a few years later it was taken to Spain. Starting with the front of the 120, the chrome work is in excellent condition with no pitting or tarnishing to the bumper, headlight surrounds or grille. Stone chips are very minimal with just an odd few in sight. The bonnet aligns up nice and straight with the wings. Following the bonnet up to the windscreen surround, and this has a bright finish, with the rubbers to hold the windscreen in good condition.
Around to the sides is where you can really appreciate the flowing curves of the XK120’s body, and just how fine it sits on the road. Looking down the car, it is nice and straight with no obvious dinks to the panels. The door shuts align well and this is uniform to both sides. The chrome mirror, door handle and window surrounds are all in excellent condition.
The roof is also excellent, finished in black. This opens and closes as it should and once up it sits nice and tight. There is some light creasing where it has been stored folded down. A matching black tonneau cover is fitted over the roof when folded down, to finish the look of the XK120 just nicely.
From the flanks of the XK120 the quarters flow around to the boot lid perfectly, with the panel gap nice and equal. Again, like the front, the chromework for the bumper, boot handle and lights is all in excellent condition.
The wheels are steel rims and finished in black, with a chrome Jaguar hubcap to cover the nuts, and the tyres are period looking Michelin which have plenty of tread remaining for the new owner.
The underside of the Jaguar is in excellent order and it’s quite clear that since the restoration, the car hasn’t seen many, or even any, wet roads.
The 3.4litre Straight-six fires up perfectly and sounds fantastic through the stainless steel exhaust system. At the time of the restoration, the engine was also given a full rebuild by a mechanic that builds rally car engines.
The engine was treated to being lightened and balanced, and many of the original parts were refurbished where possible. The Jaguar has had a new aluminium petrol tank fitted, and an aluminum radiator from a 140 with a Kenlow fan for some extra cooling in the sunny Spanish climate. Bringing the XK to a halt are the front discs and remote servo, which was fitted so that the car was quite suitable for modern day driving.
As you would expect, the XK is reported to drive fantastically with no problems noted and thanks to the 5-speed gearbox it can be used for modern day driving. The gears change nicely and smoothly as the car pulls through the gears, which has been enjoyed by the owner for many outings and trips in the Jaguar.
The Jaguar XK120 is certainly one that stands out in Jaguar’s history books, being the fastest production car in the World at the time, and its space age design body compared to other manufacturers cars.
This well maintained and restored example has been well cared for by the seller. The only reason for the sale is health problems, otherwise the car would most definitely be kept. Needing another caring owner, the XK120 will be a joy to own for whoever is next. Will it be you?
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