1952 Jaguar XK 120SE FHC
Year of manufacture1952
Mileage200 mi / 322 km
Reference number1952 Jaguar XK120 FHC
Exterior brand colourPastel Blue
Number of doors2
Number of seats2
- 1952 Jaguar XK 120 SE FHC
- Fresh from a body-off restoration
- Original colour combination of Pastel Blue with blue interior
- Extensive upgrades including power steering and five-speed gearbox
Immaculately presented in its original colours of Pastel Blue with a blue interior, this Jaguar XK 120 SE FHC also drives superbly after being given a host of well-chosen upgrades.
Built at the Browns Lane factory in Coventry on 4 September 1952, chassis number S679990 was a left-hand-drive car that was dispatched to the USA on 15 September to Charles Hornburg – Jaguar’s renowned West Coast distributor.
Its Heritage Certificate notes that, when new, it was fitted with body number J1993, engine number W5847-8S and gearbox number JL12511.
The Jaguar was imported back into the UK in late 2015, by which time it had been painted red and was in need of a complete restoration. All receipts for the extensive work that was carried out are included in the car’s history file, as is a full photographic record of the entire process.
The body-off restoration included a range of upgrades that have become popular with XK owners. The original four-speed Moss gearbox has been replaced with a five-speed unit, and an EZ electric power-steering system has been installed. The latter has enabled the fitment of a smaller wood-rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel.
Interior space is limited on a standard XK 120, so this car has benefitted from a bulkhead pedal-box extension in order to give more room, and the drilled pedals are floor-mounted. A front disc-brake conversion has been carried out and there are Koni adjustable dampers front and rear, plus Polybushes throughout. There’s a brake-bias adjuster, too, along with a Powerlite alternator and starter motor.
The original 3.4-litre straight-six engine has been retained and now breathes through twin 2in carburettors, a modified inlet manifold, and a ported and polished cylinder head. A full stainless-steel exhaust system has been fitted, along with a lightened flywheel and an upgraded clutch and propshaft. The cooling system benefits from an aluminium radiator and electric fan, and servicing is made easier thanks to the fitment of a spin-on oil filter.
Inside, the XK 120 retains its left-hand-drive layout. Dynamat soundproofing has been used extensively, including on the roof, and the modified sports seats offer more support than the originals. The light burr walnut wood trim is immaculate and night driving is made safer thanks to halogen headlamps. The chrome wire wheels are shod in Blockley tyres and the bonnet features louvres to improve engine-bay cooling.
This Jaguar XK 120 SE is now being offered for sale in pristine condition – from the paintwork and the chrome to the interior trim and even the underside of the car. A standard XK 120 remains a fast and versatile choice of 1950s sports car, but with its long list of sympathetic upgrades and its fastidious rebuild, this particular car is even more impressive in the way that it looks and drives.
The Jaguar XK 120 was the sensation of the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show. The lithe sports car was initially intended to be a showcase for Jaguar’s brand-new, 3.4-litre, straight-six engine. It was soon being put into production, though, and its seductive blend of beauty and performance made it an international sales success at a time when exports were vital to British companies.
Three body styles were built before the XK 120 was replaced in 1954 by the XK 140. First came the Open Two-Seater (also known as the Roadster), which was following in 1951 by the fixed-head coupé, and in 1953 by the drophead coupé. At first, the bodywork was constructed from aluminium, but in early 1950 Jaguar began to use steel for most sections.
Although the standard XK 120 produced 160bhp, the SE model upped that to 180bhp. Fitting a C-type cylinder head plus larger 2in SU carburettors boosted it even further to 210bhp, and it’s little wonder that owners were racing their XK 120s almost from day one.
At the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hours, the car of Leslie Johnson and Bert Hadley was a late retirement from third position, but their performance helped inspire Jaguar to return in 1951 as a works team with the C-type. This time they won outright, the first of five Jaguar victories at La Sarthe during the 1950s.
When The Motor tested an XK 120 OTS in November 1949, they called it, ‘A docile and comfortable touring car with phenomenal acceleration to more than 120mph’. The magazine recorded a 0-60mph time of 10 seconds and concluded that, ‘The Jaguar technical team have very evidently evolved a winner, a car which is superb even at this early stage in what should be a very long and honourable career.’
Although the XK series lived on until the XK 150 was replaced by the E-type in 1961, for many enthusiasts the original XK 120 was the purest example of the breed, and it’s little wonder that it remains such a coveted sports car.