Desirable British Project: 1953 Jaguar XK120 SE Roadster

While at first glance it appears that this Jaguar XK120 could be returned to active use without requiring any major work, it is a fair bet that the next owner will probably want to undertake a full restoration. If the next owner is a purist, then the fact that the car has undergone a repaint at some point, and is no longer finished in its original color, will probably be enough to motivate them. It is estimated that of the original production total of 2,018 left-hand drive XK120s built in 1953, only around 1,000 are known to still exist. If you want to become a member of that club, then this Jaguar, which is located in Wylie, Texas, and listed for sale here on eBay, may represent your opportunity.

The Jaguar rolled off the production line finished in Birch Grey, but it has received a repaint in factory Red at some point in time. While the color looks just right on the car, it would be nice to see it restored to its original color due to the relative rarity of the vehicle. This would also improve any future valuation on the Jaguar. Rust is quite limited, with this section in the passenger side door close being the worst of it. The rest of the car appears to be quite clean. The previous owner had commenced a restoration on the vehicle, but this stalled fairly early in the process, with only the frame being restored and painted.

A 3.4L DOHC straight-six engine and 4-speed manual transmission provide the “get up and go” for the Jaguar, and when the XK120 was first released, it had plenty of that. In standard form, the Jaguar was capable of achieving a top speed of 120mph. However, removing the windshield from the car allowed it to top 130mph. The owner says that the engine and all of its ancillaries, along with the transmission, are all numbers-matching. While he doesn’t clearly state it, I don’t believe that the car actually runs or drives. Apparently, the previous owner at least partially dismantled the car for restoration, and it has now simply been reassembled to sell, so the state of the mechanical components is unknown.

The interior trim of the XK120 was certainly one of its highlights. The sumptuous leather trim was both luxurious and hard-wearing, and while the Drophead Coupe and Fixed-Head Coupe received a timber veneer dash, the Roadster received a leather upholstered dash. Originally, this Jaguar interior was finished in Biscuit and Red leather, although it has deteriorated quite markedly over the years. It will require a complete restoration, but thankfully, it appears that the vast majority of the trim components are still present.

In my opinion, the only way to do a car like this Jaguar any real justice would be to undertake a total restoration. Its relative rarity would probably justify it, and these are cars that have steadily increased in value over recent years. At an asking price of $68,500, this is not a cheap investment for a project car. However, with nicely restored examples selling for upwards of $180,000, it would certainly seem to be justified.


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  1. Del

    Another non-runner for big bucks.

    Sure looks nice tho’. 😎

    Like 4
  2. Skippy

    It looks like some of this car is original, but it really needs a LOT of work. It is relatively easy to “freshen” a level 2 or even a 3 car, but in spite of the price and the decent looking body, this is a 4+ car. A quick look on Hemmings shows a dozen RESTORED XK120s in the $80k-95k range. Sure, there are a few in the $150k+ range, but most of those are dealers that have had these cars listed for YEARS without a sale. (All of the cars on Hemmings are dealer cars except 1, which means they are inflated.) Haggarty lists #1 cars at $145k. It takes about $300k to make one of these into a #1 concourse car and that is starting with a #2 or 3 that is running and has a complete history and a good maintenance record.

    Also, this car does not have a restored frame. If it did, the body would have come off and the engine would have come out, and when all that is done, obvious issues seen in the images would have been fixed.

    From my perspective, part of the issue I have with some of these write ups is with authors throwing astronomical “sell for as much as” claims. In this case the author suggests that these cars can go for $180k. That simply isn’t true and I challenge you to find one that has actually sold, not just listed, for that price lately. All you have to do to see this is follow the auctions (Mecum or Rick Carey reviews, for example). The all time record for a steel bodied XK120 back in 2009, was $225k and that same car just sold in November at Mecum in Las Vegas for $155k. Another nice one sold at Worldwide Auctions in April for $88k. Both of these cars were listed as #2s. The vast majority of XK120s typically sell near or below $90k. So anyone trying to sell a non-running partially-lipsticked pig like this one for $68k is pretty much dreaming. These sellers see what they want to see, but it doesn’t help when they read an article suggesting their car might be worth $180k! Please stop goading them. I realize the writers here are just doing what they are paid to do, and all they have to work from is the listing or images, but just a little additional homework might help frame these listings in a more realistic light. Thanks for reading and thank you for sharing this listing.

    Like 13
    • Mark

      Spot on

  3. Bill Wilkman

    Probably worth half the asking price, at best.

    Like 3
  4. Dave

    Jag hit a home run with this model, really great car to drive. The price is too high to be considered a good candidate for restoration, realistic cost will exceed 125.000 plus purchase price. I’d buy a nice “done” car for 100k, save cash and won’t have to wait 2 years for completion. I wonder if these cars just trade hands between dealer/speculators?

    Like 1

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