With its sleek, beautifully flowing bodylines and powerful new DOHC ‘XK’ engine, Jaguar’s XK 120 revolutionized sporting cars at one stroke when it debuted at the September 1948 London Motor Show. Masterfully styled by Jaguar founder William (later Sir William) Lyons, the new roadster was not initially intended for series-production. In fact, it was designed and built merely to showcase Jaguar’s spectacular new twin-cam inline 6-cylinder engine while its intended recipient, the new Mark VII saloon, was still in development and not quite ready for production.
The importance of the XK 120’s arrival in late-1948 simply cannot be overstated. Perhaps Jaguar expert Philip Porter said it best in his recent Octane magazine retrospective article, stating the XK120 “…burst into a very grey world that was still recovering from the ravages of World War II, and which only served to heighten the drama of the car’s entrance.” According to fellow Jaguar author Paul Skilleter, the XK 120 was very much “…an afterthought car, an unplanned, accidental offshoot of the saloon range, it enhanced the Jaguar image enormously, besides earning many thousands of valuable dollars.” However, fierce demand dictated XK 120 production, which commenced in 1949. Named ‘XK 120’ with the suffix representing the car’s factory-claimed top speed, the new Jaguar’s sporting prowess was soon confirmed by test driver Ron Sutton’s 132-mph blast in a lightly modified example on a Belgian highway in 1949.
A huge boost to Britain’s postwar “Export or Die” economy during the challenging postwar era, the XK 120 was also the basis of Jaguar’s racing dynasty and the early mount for many future driving legends including Stirling Moss and Phil Hill. In various tune levels, Jaguar’s ‘XK’ engine famously propelled Jaguar’s XK 120 C, C-Type, and D-Type sports racers to international racing dominance, including five Jaguar wins (1951, 1953, 1955-57) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Production of the XK120 continued into 1954, with the Roadster supplemented by the Fixed-Head Coupe in 1951 and Drophead Coupe in 1953. As few as 2,678 XK 120 Fixed-Head Coupes (FHC) were produced 1951-54, with the model featuring unforgettable styling and an exquisitely wood-trimmed interior. Squarely aimed at the lucrative export market, the overwhelming majority of FHC models produced were shipped new to North America.
Numbered 680893, this 1953 Jaguar XK 120 Fixed-Head Coupe was assembled early in March 1953 and dispatched to the United States via famed New York City-based European-automobile distributor Max Hoffman. At some point in previous ownership, the car was restored and refinished from its original Dove Gray to its current and striking shade of Champagne gold. Subsequently, the Jaguar joined a private collection, remaining there until recently. Rear-wheel spats, body-color steel disc-type wheels, and period style blackwall tires enhance the gorgeous, sleek exterior of this XK 120 FHC. The decidedly luxurious character of this XK 120 FHC is heightened by its taut and attractive black leather upholstery, proper Smiths instruments, and finely restored, visually striking burled wood interior trim. Crucially, this XK 120 FHC maintains excellent integrity with its original, numbers-matching 3.4-liter engine block and cylinder head – confirmed by the corresponding Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust certificate that accompanies the sale of the vehicle.
In addition the Heritage document, this XK 120 FHC includes a factory tool kit and mounted spare wheel. A wonderful example throughout, this 1953 Jaguar XK 120 Fixed-Head Coupe remains highly striking and ready for continued enjoyment and appreciation on the road, handsomely representing the ground-breaking model line of ‘XK’ sports cars that truly established the Jaguar legend. Please contact Hyman Ltd for more details.
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