The familiar story of the XK120 kicks off at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948, where Jaguar’s ground-breaking new sports car caused nothing short of a worldwide sensation for auto enthusiasts and the motoring press alike. With its magnificent feline styling, exotic twin-cam engine, an astonishing performance, the XK120 moved the goalposts for production sportscars for years to come, and it remains one of the most significant motorcars in the history of the British motor industry.
Striking, purposeful, and a touch sinister in its dark British Racing Green livery with matching disc wheels, this superb XK120 is one of the best of its type we’ve offered. Completed at Jaguar’s Coventry works on May 30, 1951, this Open Two-Seater an early model, falling within the first year of steel-bodied production. Per the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Certificate, it is an original left-drive US-market car brought to the USA via Max Hoffman Motors in New York. It is the subject of a nut-and-bolt restoration commissioned by a respected marque enthusiast, with many updates focused on high-performance driving enjoyment.
With its body-color disc wheels, full rear spats, and delicate chrome bumpers, this is the XK in its purest form. Specific details denote this as an early example, including the separate chrome-plated side lamps on the wings (later cars were welded in and painted) and the early-style folding roof. From February 1951, Jaguar added vents to the front wings to improve cockpit airflow, which this car has. The dark green paintwork is gorgeous, finished to a very high standard, highlighted with beautiful plating and brightwork all around. Its purposeful and clean aesthetic is achieved via the black wall Dunlops, body-color wheels, and period-correct details like the single offset Lucas fog lamp.
The black upholstery is similarly superb, with just a touch of character to the leather earned through occasional use. The carpets, door cards, and other interior panels are finished with the proper, factory-correct materials, and it retains the original four-spoke steering wheel and Smiths gauges set into a leather-trimmed panel. The cockpit is finished off with an excellent black mohair hood which stows neatly behind the seats.
Central to the XK120 is the game-changing twin overhead-cam ‘XK’ inline-six. This car still runs its original, numbers-matching block and head, updated for rallying and fast road enjoyment. Foremost among the modifications is a Tremec 5-speed gearbox, which transforms the 120s long-distance cruising ability and allows for effortless shifts. For the purist, the original gearbox is available. The engine also features a high-performance alloy radiator, electric cooling fan, and spin-on oil filter. Standard porcelain-enamel manifolds feed a stainless twin-exhaust system that emits a glorious, spine-tingling growl that encourages you to run it through the rev range every time. Chassis upgrades are also quite extensive and include Wilwood front disc brakes, urethane bushes, and Koni front dampers. The quality of the restoration is apparent even on the underside, which is neat and well-detailed.
As a testament to the quality of the restoration, this was part of a class celebrating the XK120 at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. As offered, it remains fit for the concours lawn yet is also beautifully sorted and ready for taking on the challenge of thousand-mile rallies or virtually any vintage motoring event worldwide. As beautiful to drive as it is to look at, you’ll undoubtedly be reaching for the keys at every opportunity.
Offers welcome and trades considered