Lot 214

Open Roads, February 2022

1953 Jaguar XK 120 SE Roadster Custom


$78,100 USD | Sold

United States | Siloam Springs , Arkansas



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
US Title
  • Desirable, high-performance SE model with numbers-matching engine, chassis, and body
  • Previously refurbished and modified by a marque specialist with competition-style features
  • Powered by a 3.4-liter, inline, six-cylinder engine with twin, sand-cast SU carburetors
  • Upgraded with a five-speed manual transmission, front disc brakes, and larger aluminum radiator
  • Includes JDHT certificate

The Jaguar XK 120 was unveiled as a concept vehicle at the 1948 London Motor Show. Conceived to showcase the company’s first proprietary engine, the car created a sensation: Its curvaceous aluminum body was a sight to behold, and Jaguar claimed it was the fastest car in the world—with the “120” designation touting its top speed in miles per hour. The claim would turn out to be more than just marketing hype. An open roadster variant exceeded 130 mph in 1949 and held the record of world’s fastest car until 1953. Furthermore, a race-spec version, the XK 120-C, won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1951 and 1953.

Superior aerodynamics, a well sorted chassis, and Jaguar’s innovative XK engine were key to its success. The 3.4-liter, inline six-cylinder was exceedingly advanced for being mass-produced, with an aluminum alloy cylinder head, hemispherical combustion chambers, dual overhead camshafts, and twin side-draft SU carburetors. The transmission was a four-speed manual, while the suspension featured an independent torsion-bar setup in the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Drum brakes were at all four corners, and the steering mechanism was a recirculating ball type with a column that adjusted telescopically.

Initially, the XK 120 was offered only in open roadster format with a hand-built aluminum body on ash framing mounted to a steel chassis. By 1950, overwhelming demand necessitated mass production. Bodywork was converted to steel, save for the doors, hood, and trunk lid, which remained aluminum. A Fixedhead Coupe version followed in 1951 and a Drophead Coupe came in 1953. Beginning in mid-1951, Jaguar began offering a Special Equipment or SE factory option, featuring high-lift camshafts, a lightened flywheel, and a dual exhaust system, which added 20 horsepower over the standard model’s output, for a total of 180 horsepower. SE versions were also equipped with stiffer springs and wire wheels.

This XK 120 SE Roadster, chassis S673254, was dispatched from the factory to Hoffman, New York, seven days after its manufacture date of 2 December 1952. The car left the factory finished in red with a black interior and equipped with the highly desirable Special Equipment group, as denoted by the “S” prefix in the chassis number, which is stamped on both the frame and data tag of the vehicle.

The XK 120 offered here retains its numbers-matching body and was refurbished under previous ownership by Imports Unlimited of Highland Park. At the time of the refurbishment some years ago, the bodywork was tastefully modified to include competition-style features like those Jaguar offered in period from the factory on SE models. These include dual Brooklands racing windscreens, hood louvers and strap, Marchal 662 driving lights, and an outside fuel-filler cap. A custom, driver-side rollbar, and augmented front and rear “quick jack” points were also installed at the time. Furthermore, the chassis and doors were lengthened four inches to increase interior space for driver and passenger.

Now finished in attractive silver over blue, this XK 120 also retains its numbers-matching 3.4-liter engine block. Other upgrades include a Tremec five-speed manual transmission, front disc brakes, a larger aluminum radiator with electric cooling fan, and a modern alternator.

With period racing modifications and upgrades to further improve performance and reliability, this XK 120 SE Roadster is uniquely stunning and gratifying to drive. A Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust certificate is included with the sale.