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Back Yard Find: 1953 Jaguar XK120

The post-war years were a boon for British cars, sports cars in particular. In many instances, U.S. GIs returned from England and regaled friends and families with stories of fast, tight handling sports cars being propelled along narrow, winding roads. This in turn helped generate interest on U.S. shores for such cars as there were few, if any, domestic counterparts. If you look at post-war MG’s, Triumphs, and Jaguars from the late ’40s on, the number of built for export, left-hand drive models, is notable. And here’s a perfect example in the form of a 1953 Jaguar XK120. It is located, now, in Brunswick, Georgia and is available, here on BF Classifieds for $37,500.

The Jaguar XK120 was offered between model years 1949 and 1954 with a total of about 12K produced. Assembled in three different body styles, a fixed roof, a drophead, and a drophead coupe, such as our subject, the XK120 offered impressive road handling capabilities and even better straight away power. These Jaguars made appearances at many diverse motor sporting events including, LeMans, Mille Miglia, and even a NASCAR road race. Regarding my earlier export comment, a little over 10K of the total 12K XK120s built were left-hand drive, export versions.

This XK120 started its American journey in Pennsylvania, retired to Florida, and then seven years ago made it to Brunswick, GA. Along the way, it was owned by an Eastern Airlines mechanic and when later parked, still started with some regularity. Unfortunately, at some point, the 160 HP, 3.4 liter, in-line, six-cylinder, DOHC engine encountered a stuck valve so this Jag is a non-runner. What exactly does that mean, and how extensive is the problem? Those are the right questions to put to the seller. The standard four-speed manual transmission is in place.

Regarding this XK120’s overall condition, the seller states, “This 120 is in very original condition the rear springs retain the leather straps. Car was never repainted. Rusty tray under convertible top & bottom rear trunk, see photos or video. Under headlamps, top right fender, sills are in good condition. The chassis is in great shape. Complete Tool kit. Great colors combination“. There is not a lot of any color left to the exterior but from what can be seen, the body does appear to be mostly sound with a light covering of surface rust. Good to see is that the trim, including bezels, bumpers, badges, handles, and maybe most importantly, the grille, are all there and appear to be in good shape. The seller mentions that the tray under the convertible top is rusted away, and it is, so it will need attention. There does appear to be a convertible top frame in place.

The interior is gutted, while there is no indication if the seats/frames are available, one of the accompanying videos shows them installed. Both the steel and wooden portions of the floors, along with the trunk pan, have problems. The instruments and switchgear appear to be present and accounted for but the wooden dash facing and other wood trim components are going to require some help as will the door cards. The door jambs and hinges are showing some corrosion but it will take a deeper dive to determine how much attention that they may need.

An XK120 from this era is always a nice find, they were substantial cars in their day and still possess quite a bit of panache in current times. This one will be no exception but it’s going to take time, effort, and investment. This listing is very thorough via its images, please take the time to review them. There are two videos available too, Video 1 and Video 2, they’ll both give you a better idea of this Jaguar’s current condition and additional parts that are included in the sale. It would be great to hear from any current or former XK120 owners; any stories or advice that you can share?

Comments

  1. Don Page

    After graduating from High School in 1970, I dated a girl that her father owned a yellow 54 convertible. With him on board, One day we went for a drive with me at the wheel. I was very cautious driving it, but when he took the wheel, he showed me how fast it was. I was surprised how fast it was.

    Like 4
  2. CJinSD

    This car actually looks more comfortable than most XK120s because of the room created by the absence of seats.

    Like 4
  3. Frank Sumatra

    I like the parking sticker. I finally got around to watching “Catch Me If You Can” and this seems like a perfect car for a pilot during the dawn of the Jet Age. Just sent my son an image of the sticker.

    Like 1
  4. Frank Farrell

    I’m always a little skeptical when I see a car for sale in sorry shape surrounded by quite a few similar vintage or style cars. It immediately screams to me “parts/donor” car that’s already been stripped of the most valuable parts that are undoubtedly very difficult to replace, and then being sold as a “restoration project”.

    Like 6
    • joe from newburgh

      Agreed. It looks like a shop specializing in restoring old Jaguars, and the owner decided that this one isn’t worth the trouble when he has half a dozen more in better shape sitting there.

      Like 3
  5. Martin Horrocks

    Those GIs would have been lucky to see sports cars in early post war UK. The country was bankrupt and very few could afford any kind of car.

    In fact, XKs, TCs etc were almost 100% for export until early 50s.

    This car looks expensive for what!s on offer.

    Like 2
  6. Ruede Mcgriff

    I worked for a shop that restored a few of these in the late 80’s the woodwork in the interior can be a nightmare as it is all burled walnut- as well the floorboards and door frames are wood- but beautiful when done

    Like 0
  7. Kenn

    Frank Farrell hit the nail on the head. Much as I like these beautiful cars, and am looking forward to my next one after a 50 year absence, this doesn’t make any sense when viewed where it is.

    Like 1
  8. Jaker76

    When these were produced a Roadster, a drophead coupe and a fixed head coupe were offered! The Roadster was just that, no wood trim on dash, side curtains for windows and a removeable convertible top! Obvious to see that the valuable parts haven’t been stripped, but seat frames I do not see. I have seen many in much worse shape brought back to their glory, expensive, yes but once done well worth it!

    Like 2

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