This 1954 Jaguar XK 120 SE Needs to be Finished!

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

So near and yet so far. The owner says this 1954 Jaguar XK 120 SE (for Special Equipment) Roadster, here on craigslist in Aberdeen, Washington, is “basically ready for reassembly.” But there are still many major parts shown in their original state, or not shown at all. Still, at least some of what has been done is to a high standard. The $58,000 asking price seems a lot for a car in this condition. The SE designation does add to the value, though.

The body has been removed and media blasted, but the nose at least looks fairly rough, and perhaps beyond the ability of body filler to hide a multitude of sins. No rust is visible, though. The photos seem to be from various phases of the work. Replacement parts include a left front fender and part of the right one, left and rear rocker panels, the hood, and miscellaneous fender skirts and supports.

Here’s the good stuff: The engine (a $10,000 job), transmission, differential and front hubs have been rebuilt, and receipts accompany the sale. The frame, wire wheels, and suspension have been sandblasted and powder coated. The rear springs and shocks are rebuilt. A new gas tank and skid plate await installation. A replacement rear bench with a battery box/cover is ready to go in.

And of course, this is a “very rare 120 SE.” Major questions for the seller are about the whereabouts and condition of the chrome (not a lot of it on this car, admittedly) and the interior. Is the engine the original, with matching SE numbers? None of this stuff will be cheap if it has to be sourced and then restored. Perhaps that’s what led this restoration to get stalled.

As many of us know, the XK 120 was originally built as a show car that would highlight the new XK twin-cam six-cylinder engine that was going into the Mark VII sedan. But when revealed at the 1948 London Motor Show, the XK 120 created a sensation.

The first examples, about 200, were built with an aluminum body. At first, only the roadster was available, but then fixed-head (coupe) versions came online, and a drophead with roll-up windows.

As a 1953 this is a late-production car—the 120 was replaced by the XK 140 in late 1954 as a 1955 model. In 3.4-liter form, the XK 120 produced 160 horsepower and could reach 125 mph. Zero to 60 took 10 seconds, ultra-fast for the period. And it was cheap, too, costing only £1,602 in 1953.

The SE model was unofficially called the M (for “Modified in the USA”). It added higher lift camshafts and twin exhaust pipes and was offered as a factory option for U.S.-bound cars from mid-1951. The 120 SE could achieve 60 mph in 8.7 seconds and was claimed to reach 132 mph, but that’s questionable.

The XK 120 was mostly sold to U.S. customers, and some 12,061 were made. They’re relatively rare with right-hand drive.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Big project but lots to work with. The front fenders took big hits and look like a ball peen hammer was used on them but the sound metal can be worked out by someone who knows metal work. A ’53 roadster was the first sports car I ever drove and I vividly remember every minute of it. It’s been sports cars ever since and probably why I still have two sitting in my garage.

    Like 3
  2. gippy

    Optimistic on the price, but they are probably trying to re-coup what they have spent so far. With matching numbers and returned to original colors it would be a 125K car, but 58K plus another 50K to go, the margin is small unless it is a labor of love and long term investment.

    Like 2
  3. Michelle RandStaff

    These partially restored Jags seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately, maybe because guys trying to restore them are realizing costs have gone up a LOT while the prices have stagnated….. Also, parts are generally getting more difficult to find.

    Like 2
  4. JohnfromSC

    These are body on chassis cars, so it makes the best sense to mount the engine, tyranny, etc to prove it runs, and sell it that way. If those fenders are full of filler, best to just buy new replacements.

    I’m not sure of the owner’s Jaguar knowledge, as the first thing that popped out to me were those awful yellow plug wires and incorrect plug ends.

    Like 1
    • bobhess bobhessMember

      Have got blue wires on my blue car and had yellow wires to match the yellow paint on the the other one. Maybe it was going to be painted yellow.

      Like 0
  5. Gary

    My buddies dad had three of these. A stock one, a parts car an a 348/tripower four speed Chevy engines one. That one was fast.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds