1950 Jaguar XK120 Roadster Project


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This 1950 Jaguar XK120 has supposedly been parked since 1969. Obviously the past owners have undertook parts of the restoration, but none have been able to finish the job. It may look rough in the photos, but it was once one of the most beautiful and fastest sports cars around. If you think you have what it takes to bring this one back to its former glory, it can be found here on craigslist in South Jersey for $34,500.


Jaguar was originally only going to build 240 XK120s. The first ones were essentially a shortened Mk VII saloon chassis with a  and an aluminum body fitted. People loved the car so much though, that Jaguar decided to put the car into full production with a steel body.


The XK engine put out enough power to make the XK12o the fastest production car at the time. We bet you can guess the top speed… That’s right, 120 mph was mighty quick back in the early fifties.


Things may have been cramped in the cockpit, but that fact quickly became insignificant when you realized you were driving one of the most beautiful machines on the road.


It may be hard to see all that beauty in this project, but it’s there. It’s unfortunate that the previous owner attempted a restoration because there is no telling what all has been messed with. We recommend a thorough inspection by a specialist before purchase. Even if it does turn out to have good bones, it’s going to take a fortune to restore. Too bad because these were actually quite a bargain when new…

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  1. J. Pickett

    A lot of bucks for a total resto.

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  2. joelonzello

    Beautiful car but I don’t fit behind the wheel. Not for tall drivers. Grandfather had one sitting around for years .

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  3. jim

    3 of the last 4 cars posted have been jaguars. i think someone has jag fever real bad.

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  4. DolphinMember

    It’s probably worth restoring if the description is accurate, but I would want to hear the engine run since a good chunk of the value is in the (claimed) rebuilt engine, but that was done 40 years ago and it was never run after the rebuild. What’s the engine like now? Who knows?

    The seller wants half the cost of a very nice XK120 for a car that you can’t make that nice for the other half of that cost.

    Then, for me, there’s the fact that, as important and exciting as the XK120 was back when it was new, it’s not as nice to use on the road as the later XKs. I would rather spend the $35K for the best XK140 driver I could find and be driving now, rather than many years and dollars from now.

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  5. R. Rob Andre

    Every time I see an old XK, it reminds me of my XK140 MC Roadster (more leg rm than the 120’s) that was also a non-runner that I’d had tucked away for a decade, but it was in far better shape than the one above. I sold to my brother back in 1998 for the paltry sum of $2500., as I was moving and I’d run out of room to store it anymore. A couple months later, he in turn traded it for a V12 XKE 2+2 to stuff a Chevy engine into, then later traded that one for a truck. It’s a mistake re the 140 that he still regrets, as I, to this very day.. *sigh*

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  6. scot

    ~ some say modern commuter alternatives have made drivers complacent. and that the performance, reliability, and generic nature of the manufacturers’ offerings have sucked the life out of our daily driving chores. this project brings along ‘restoration’ of spirit if you can bring it together. the previous owner must be disappointed, i’m sure, that life’s other responsibilities prevented the enjoyment of his fantasy.

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    • Joe C

      Hi Scott, I know what your saying. There is and always has been many great alternatives to the “regular” cars that offer the basic point A to B transportation experience. It just seems after you do the math on some of these other cars, it’s hard to justify the purchase. I believe you had to be somewhat brave to purchase a foreign car back in the 50’s and 60’s. British, Italian… French… Jesus!, who’s going to fix that and keep it running. I know of a few people with these XK cars, but none are the original owners. Even when they had the money to purchase them new, and maintain them, they never seem to have held on to them for some reason(s). They bought them again though, later in life, in various conditions. Maybe for those memories? Nothing like buying that dream… “who knows when I’ll get around to restoring it, at least it’s in the garage”.

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      • Michael RogersMember

        The Brits were sold with tool kits and a manual, My 58 morris woody ad a couple of wrenches, a TUNE UP KEY hub cap popper etc, My MK-VIII has enough tools for the owner to pull the head and ‘decoke it’ and any other reasonable maintenance, these were tucked in two hatches in the front doors! My AC has a good set of tools in the boot lid, now the french or german–I dunno!

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  7. rancho bella

    I could never figure out why cars like this were cramped in the cockpit, it’s not like the car is tiny. Old Corvettes and Morgans were like that as well. Perhaps one of our all knowing can educate me? Was there a good reason having a steering wheel inches from your chest?

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    • ECW

      Probably because it was more of a design exercize (almost like a concept car) than a serious production idea. Even Jaguar realized it was an ergonomic “challenge” and stretched the cockpit forward 3 inches in the XK140.

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    • paul

      I think the designers didn’t figure in, or know what ergonomics was back in the day. Every car of those days had it wrong either the seat was flat & you were sliding all over, or the seat was too close, or the Italians were well known for the for the the pedals being too close while the steering wheel was a proper distance, but the wrong angle.

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      • Michael RogersMember

        It also is about the difference in driving style: the Brit INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED MOTORISTS taught you to keep both hands on the wheel and slide their position Vs the Italian straight arm style, Seems the Spridgits and Healy etc are also rigged that way.

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  8. Charles Pospisil

    People wher smaller in the 50’s and we used to fit! Now that we have new diets we are bigger and don’t fit. All the designers were smaller and made the cars to fit themselves! They just didn’t think of it?

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  9. junkmanMember

    Ever see how close a Nascar driver sits to the wheel? High performance driving a car with no power steering takes a fair bit of muscle, you need to be up on the wheel.

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  10. TJA

    I have nice driving 54 120 DHC and I think the seller (who I actually know) is a bit high on his asking price. On the other hand try finding an early XK120 roadster (does not have the side air vents) which still has a lot of it’s original features such as the early engine block, studless cam covers and the tall dashpot carbs. If you are going to do a full resto on a 120 then it is not a bad idea to pick an early rare optioned model. IMO: the only other rarer 120 model would be the alloy cars which are now completely out of most people’s financial reach (even if you could find a restorable one for sale).


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  11. tetnanusproof

    Yet another example of a very desirable car needing a serious restorer to come to the rescue.
    These cars are great drivers, they should not cost as much as they do to restore.
    Very nice early example. I think it’s a fair price. Problem is that everyone wants the end game to be a big win. If everyone played that way, there would be zero restorations going on. You restore for the love of these cars, or buy a driver and go for a ride. Restoring is a passion. You love it or you don’t. I am deeply saddened by the recent “big business” attitude that has destroyed the collectible automobile market. All the great cars ending up in the hands of a few that can afford to buy the best. Sad indeed. Watched an ‘expert’ state that it doesn’t matter how much time and money was spent on a resto, the car is worth $. That’s the atitude that kills this passion. Value, value value… give me a break.

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    • Michael RogersMember

      I see Southern Calif as what WAS the US center of special cars, I used to see lots of them on the street, sometimes really obscure ones like the Singer SM 1500 I saw the other day.or the Jag SS100 a time ago.
      I recently spent the whole day looking at the traffic from a bus traveling from the central coast to southern LA and saw almost NOTHING interesting, no customs, MG’s, hot rods ZIP! of course a few Mayatas and a XJ or two If they’re not there are they anywhere or just sitting in the garage for the Sunday show??

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  12. Ben Cavileer

    Average size has truly increased since the 50’s. Designers were not too far off the mark. I remember seeing a human shaped pantagram used by a mechanical engineer in a vintage film from the day. BTW , BMW always came with a decent of hand tools, even a socket to free up or close a stuck sunroof/window.

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  13. Ed Cousins

    All the numbers match on that car. I owned it for a while but could not spend time or money to restore. the serial number is 670197. Amazing car for the time.

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