Sorry, too late !
Just 70 years ago was born the first XK in history. Introduced during the 1948 Earl’s Court Motorshow of London the Jaguar XK 120 takes its name from its maximum speed of 120 mph, close to 200 kmh ! William Lyons, Jaguar’s founder, was far from imagining that the XK 120 would make the brand from Coventry know its glory days. Its sculptural line was designed by William Lyons himself in just a few weeks to be introduced at the London motorshow. Talented, Lyons managed to design an endless hood, a cockpit cut with elegance and underlined by a leather roll, with a slim oval grill that will stay in Jaguar history. The windscreen is in two parts as in the Belle Epoque and the rear stern shows an unmatched finesse. On the other hand, its XK engine benefited from a long development that started during WW2, making it powerful and reliable. It innovates with an aluminium head and a double overhead camshaft (whence the DOHC naming). A 3.4 L straight-six engine full of torque developing 160 hp, with very flattering performances for the period. Its lovely sound and its SU carburettors give it an additional proper personality. Regarding the transmission, the XK 120 has a 4-speed Moss gearbox.
The demand is strong, reinforced by its competition success. In 1949, a Jaguar XK 120 Roadster driven by “Soapy” Sutton reached 132,5 mph (213,4 kph) in Belgium. This is also a XK 120 that won the Coupe des Alpes in 1950 and 1951, despite its drum brakes unsuitable for mountain roads. Jaguar enters three almost standard XK 120s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950. The results allowed Jaguar to learn enough to build the legendary XK 120 C, better known as C-Type, that brought the first victory at Le Mans to Jaguar in 1951, then in 1953. The XK 120 also won speed records at Monthléry with an incredible average 100 mph on 27 200 km during a 7-day test! The XK 120 built Jaguar’s reputation as a sports car manufacturer and put Jaguar at the top of the automobile manufacturing of the 50’s.
In 1951 Jaguar offered a sportier version as a factory option. Sold with the naming XK 120 SE for Special Equipment, the power went from 160 to 180 hp thanks to cams improvement among others. The flywheel was lightened, the rear suspension and torsion bars were stiffened, the rear axle were shorter. They were equipped with wire wheels for a better brake drums cooling, and wires could be painted as the body. The SEs also had standard fog lamps and a dual exhaust. Around 7600 roadsters were produced from 1949 to 1954.
Our highly desirable exemplar is one of the rare XK 120 SEs of 180 hp. With the chassis number S674789, it was built in 1954 and is part of the last exemplars produced. Sold new in the USA, its first owner immobilized it from 1960 to 1986 before selling it in 1987 with only 13 800 original miles following an ad published in Hemmings Motor News. The car was imported in 2007 perfectly preserved in its original condition. Only resprayed once 30 years ago in its original Old English White, its red interior is still original with its magnificent patinated leathers and its original carpets. The car has never been restored, the chassis has never been taken down, its engine number F1839-8S is still original and never left its compartment. It even still has its original leather-wrapped suspensions blades. It is equipped with front brake discs for obvious safety reasons, its original drum brakes are still available. Today the car shows its original 16 650 miles on the clock. In a rare preservation condition, this authentic XK 120 SE drives as in its early days and the sound of its 3.4 L straight-6 fills you with a captivating sound. Our car will be delivered with its Jaguar Heritage certificate, Operating, Maintenance and Service Handbook from the period, contrôle technique and appraisal value. After a long test-drive in the Riviera countryside and my modest experience it is rare to drive in a 1954 car that is still new with such a perfect alignment and still precise, smooth, without any parasitic noise. Everything is as the factory built it on the chain. Time slightly altered the painting giving shades differences between steel and aluminium parts but the patina and the interior atmosphere are just incredible, I would really like to have my Berluti shoes as well patinated!