1954 Jaguar XK120 FHC

At the 1948 London Motor Show, Jaguar unveiled their first postwar sports car to astonished onlookers. The spectacular new XK120 redefined the whole notion of sports cars in the post-war era, combining race car performance in a stunningly beautiful and production-ready package. Initially, the concept was intended merely as a testbed for Jaguar’s newest engine, the 3.4-liter “XK” inline six, yet the positive reception easily convinced William Lyons to put it into production. The technically-advanced engine featured a sturdy iron block topped with an alloy, twin-overhead camshaft cylinder head, making 160 horsepower in standard form. With such exotic specification, it would have been understandable if Jaguar chose to build the car in limited numbers. However, engineers adopted new techniques allowing them to mass-produce the exotic twin-cam engine, which allowed the XK120 to be considerably cheaper than its performance rivals. Supporting the engine was a robust chassis with independent front suspension, based loosely on the MkV saloon but substantially narrowed and tuned for handling. The real sensation was the gorgeous body, penned in-house at Jaguar and quite unlike anything else on the road at the time. Devoid of fussy chrome trim and unnecessary frills, the XK120 body was curvaceous and beautifully proportioned. The clean lines were uninterrupted, particularly on cars with steel wheels and full spats on the rear fenders.

More than just a pretty face, the XK120 delivered extraordinary performance for the period. The RAC officially timed a mostly standard XK120 (with a small aero screen and tall gear ratio) at 132.6 miles per hour on the Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium. Other speed records followed, as did countless victories on race circuits and in rallies in Europe and the USA. The XK120 paved the way for the Le Mans-winning C-Type and set the foundation for Jaguar’s astounding string of motorsport victories Jaguar enjoyed throughout the 1950s. Today, the Jaguar XK120 is a cornerstone collector car with passionate owners ranging from the grassroots to the seasoned, world-class collector. Over seventy years since it was first shocked the world with its dramatic unveiling, the XK120 continues to thrill with its timeless beauty and electrifying performance.

The XK120 featured here is a gorgeous example of the luxurious Fixed Head Coupe which joined the original Open Two Seater in 1951. Adding a roof to the XK120 transformed it into a highly capable and comfortable grand touring car, with a bit more legroom, luxury, and of course, weathertight comfort for year-round motoring. Thankfully, the addition of the fixed-roof did not spoil the lines or the performance. This striking 1954 XK120 is an original US-market example with the desirable Special Equipment package, retaining its original matching numbers engine and cylinder head. It enjoyed long-term, single ownership from the late 1960s through 2007, receiving a nut-and-bolt restoration late in its tenure. The most recent owner acquired the car from him and has continued its meticulous care ever since.

Finished in British Racing Green over a black cockpit, this car has a striking and purposeful look thanks to the color-matched wire wheels fitted with period-correct Pirelli Cinturato rubber. The body is exquisitely finished, with straight panels, excellent gaps, and gorgeous deep green paintwork finished to a very high standard. Brightwork is minimal, but the delicate chrome bumpers and various plated body fitting present in outstanding condition.

Lifting the bonnet reveals Jaguar’s masterpiece in the form of the 3.4-liter, twin-overhead cam, inline-six. Not only is it one of the most significant engines of all time, but it is also one of the most beautiful to look at, with its highly polished aluminum cam covers, carburetor bodies, and intake manifold. This car retains its matching-numbers cylinder head and engine (per the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Certificate) with detailing up to the same high standards as the exterior. Correct fittings include the through-fender air intake, porcelain exhaust manifolds, Marston Excelsior radiator, and polished SU. Carburetors. A full stainless-steel exhaust system lets the engine breath freely and provides an addictive soundtrack. Thanks to attentive care in an extensive private collection, this XK is dialed-in to run superbly and would be the ideal candidate for Pre-‘57 driving events worldwide.

The cabin of the fixed head coupe offered considerably more luxury than the sparsely trimmed open-two-seater. This car features marvelous black upholstery and exquisitely restored wood trim. The black leather seats have developed an inviting character from use and care, while the carpets, door cards, broadcloth headliner, and interior panels are in exceptional condition. A slightly smaller-diameter sports steering wheel accommodates taller drivers and the only other deviation from factory specification is the alloy shift knob. Inside the boot is found the restored original jack, handle, tire pump, and tool roll. Accompanying the sale is a copy of the Heritage Certificate, the original handbook, and recent service receipts.

With a superb restoration and well-sorted mechanicals, this XK120 fixed-head is the driver’s choice for rallies and tours while still presenting well enough for JCNA concours and similar events. It benefits from many years of thorough, attentive care and is ready to provide its next caretaker with many more miles of enjoyment.

 

$109,500

Stock number 6480

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