1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Roadster


The XK-120 was launched in roadster form at the 1948 London Motor Show as a test bed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine. It caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. The “120” in its name refers to its 120 mph to speed (faster with the windscreen removed), which made the XK-120 the world’s fastest standard production car at the time of its launch. The XK-120 has an extensive racing history including the high-speed runs at Jabeke in Belgium in 1949 and Ian Appleyard’s rally success with factory roadster NUB 120 in the early 1950’s. There was also an all XK-120 race in England in 1951 and XK-120’s competed in the U.S. well into the 1960’s. This vehicle is a roadster (designated OTS, for open two-seater). It has a pressed-steel body with aluminum doors, bonnet, and boot lid. The S.E. signifies special equipment including 8:1 compression ratio, 180 BHP, as opposed to 160 BHP on standard XK120’s. The dual overhead-cam 3.4L straight 6 XK engine has a “C-type” alloy cylinder head, twin side-draft SU carburetors, and bigger exhaust valves. This vehicle has independent torsion bar front suspension, semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear, re-circulating ball steering, telescopically adjustable steering column, and all around 12-inch drum brakes.

On the 30th of May, 1949 a Jaguar XK-120 (registration HKV500) was taken to the Jabekke-Ostend highway in Belgium where Jaguar chief test driver Ron “Soapy” Sutton achieved a speed of 132.596 mph. This car is similar to the XK-120 driven by “Soapy” Sutton on that famous day.

This great example of the brilliant Sir William Lyons designed XK-120 has an upgraded 5-speed transmission that makes every day driving comfortable. This replaces the original Moss-type gearbox that has no synchromesh in first and reverse gears. The original gearbox has been preserved in working order and will be sold with the car. This car, with an original 59,000 miles, was built prior to November, 1953 and has participated in many local rallies with no problems and would make a great addition to any collection. This Jaguar XK-120SE has been preserved and maintained, at great expense to the current owner, and is ready to hit the road with the new owner behind the wheel. The gearbox, engine and body have matching numbers to the original car.

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Text by Russo and Steele.