1953 Jaguar XK 120
Year of manufacture1953
JAGUAR XK 120 OTS (1953)
CHASSIS N. 57437
ENGINE: IN LINE 6 CYLINDER, TWIN-CAM
DISPLACEMENT: 3400 CM3
POWER: 180 CV
BODY STYLE: ROADSTER
Before the war, SS Cars Ltd. (as Jaguar was then called) was a very small company with an extremely limited production of vehicles based on the chassis produced by the Standard car company. It was already characterized by two qualities which would make it big: an exceptional line and a lower price than that of its competitors.
In the early 1940s William Lyons, the owner of SS, put together a team of technicians and engineers in order to pursue the objective of realizing a vehicle that would be integrally their own. This team worked on the specifics of the new car whilst carrying out night shifts in order to guard against air raids.
The heart of this future car, an elegant and very fast saloon, would be the cutting edge engine: an in-line six cylinder engine with a large displacement and double overhead cam distribution. This was a solution which, up until then, had only been adopted by very expensive racing or sports cars, like Alfa Romeos and Bugattis.
After the war ended, and pre-war production recommenced, the project was finalized for the planned launch at the 1948 London Motor Show. But the large Mk VII saloon was not ready so Lyons developed a shortened chassis and dressed it with a two seater sporty body. Looking for a compromise solution, in just two weeks he managed to create a masterpiece.
Presented as the XK 120 (combining the engine project code with the speed of the car) the vehicle was an unexpected success and the Company – which in the meantime had taken on the name Jaguar – organized itself to produce the vehicles on a wing and a prayer. A first series of 244 examples was craft-produced with aluminium bodywork while the factory equipped itself for the mass-production of the definitive version with the steel-pressed bodywork panels.
Overseas production was favoured since Great Britain needed to export in order to obtain valuable currency so that it could recover from the stress of the war, and it was for this reason that the majority of the XK 120s ended up in the United States where European sports cars were enjoying a period of great success.
Many American clients used their small sporty European vehicles for touring as well as for racing, and many clubs and circuits were created for this reason. An entire generation of US drivers began to gain experience at these competitions like, for example, Phil Hill.
The vehicle proposed today, a splendid roadster (officially called an Open Two Seater) with left-hand drive, was sold in the United States and probably has a sporting period in its American past: in fact it still has a front bar for rapid lifting, which leads us to think it was used for racing.
The vehicle was restored a few years ago and presents itself very well with the characteristic disc wheels and rear wheel spats typical of the first XKs built. The vehicles were often ordered with wire wheels, or the wheels were subsequently modified, thus losing the wheel covers which give the XK 120 the appearance of a large 1930s custom-built car.
Used by the owner for a series of events and regularity rallies, the XK 120 offered today is a perfectly efficient vehicle ready to give its new owner great satisfaction in terms of the driving experience as well as the admirable overall appearance.
The vehicle is in excellent mechanical condition but, for safety reasons, we advise the purchaser to have it checked over and to replace the fluids, filters and perishable elements.