1953 Jaguar XK120 Drophead Coupe

Each of the three variants of Jaguar’s XK120 sports car had a unique purpose and character. The Open Two Seater, commonly known as the roadster, was the stripped-down, lithe, and aggressive sports car aimed at the club racer. Alternately, the fixed-head coupe had a more grown-up appeal thanks to the roomier cabin, extensive burl-wood trim, and glass roll-up windows, making it the choice for Continental touring in comfort, regardless of the season. The final version to arrive was the Drophead Coupe, introduced in 1953. The XK120 DHC had all the open-air joy of the roadster, but with luxurious trimmings like roll-up side windows and a larger, insulated soft top. The drophead offered performance virtually indistinguishable from its sportier sibling yet with a more mature character. Today, the drophead is the connoisseur’s choice, being the rarest of the steel XK120 variants and also the most versatile configuration for touring and classic rally enthusiasts.

This lovely XK120 Drophead Coupe is a US market model manufactured in May of 1953 and is one of approximately 1,700 built in the brief, single-year production run. Compared to more than 7,600 roadsters and 2,700 coupes, the DHC is by far the rarest of the three. This fine example is the subject of a complete restoration and is beautifully presented in cream over tan leather trim and fitted with a tan Stayfast top. While in the collection of the most recent owner, it was extensively fettled and updated for reliable touring without sacrificing the period-correct aesthetic. The classic cream-colored paintwork is well finished and beautifully detailed all around. Delicate chrome bumpers are restored to a high standard with excellent plating, and the car rides on beautiful chrome knock-off wire wheels fitted with radial tires for predictable handling in dry or wet conditions.

Inside, tan Connolly leather is taut and beautifully fitted using factory-correct patterns and materials, showing minimal indications of use. The floors feature matching Wilton carpets, which are in similarly excellent condition. Door cards and dash trim are true to factory standards, and the wood dash is exquisitely restored, housing refurbished factory instruments and correct switchgear. The tan canvas top operates smoothly, appearing tight and well-fitted. It is properly insulated and lined with a broadcloth headlining, which vastly improves sound insulation compared to the roadster – while the glass side windows make this a proper three-season car.

Mechanically, this XK120 has been thoughtfully updated with several practical improvements. The 3.4-liter engine wears the original numbers-matching block and cylinder head per the Heritage Certificate, and it is beautifully detailed with correct porcelain exhaust manifolds, SU carburetors, and the signature polished alloy cam covers. Cooling is vastly improved with an aluminum radiator and electric cooling fan, while a high-torque starter improves provides ample grunt from hot or cold. There’s also an uprated ignition coil, spin-on oil filter conversion, and high-flow stainless-steel exhaust. Period-correct accessories include a tool roll, tire pump, restored jack, and factory grease gun.

The Drophead Coupe is arguably the best all-rounder of the XK120 range, with the added appeal of rarity and collectability. This fine example is beautifully restored and presented in excellent condition, with valuable updates that ensure it will be a pleasure to drive in your favorite rallies, events, or just for relaxed B-road touring.


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