1954 Jaguar XK 120 FHC
- Chassis # S680947
- Engine # W9554-8
- A Matching Numbers Example
- Older Restoration Completed By Marque Specialist
- Former AACA National First Prize Award Recipient
- Sale Includes, Spare, Air pump, Tools, Restoration Photos, And Available Service Documents
Jaguar’s release of the XK120 in 1948 must have been a tremendous relief to motoring enthusiasts enduring the post-war recovery of the civilian automobile market. Due to both the switch to war effort manufacturing and the bombing campaigns in western Europe, the immediate years following World War 2’s conclusion saw manufacturers ramping up production with models introduced prior to the conflict. It would take several years for all new lineups to be developed making this period a rather bland rehash of the late depression offerings.
Although Jaguar was very much in the same position producing their 4 and 6 cylinder saloon cars, their latest creation had been a long time coming. Throughout the war, Sir William Lyons’ team of engineers began developing an advanced motor with enough power to stay ahead of the competition for several years. His goals were achieved, and the legendary XK motor was introduced to the public with its hemispherical combustion chamber and dual overhead cams. To house this specular power plant, the company needed an equally spectacular vehicle: enter the XK120.
Its svelte body and sweeping curves were an immediate hit at the London Motor Show, and public demand for the sports car led to full-scale production not soon after. Early examples featured alloy bodies and are the most sought after as a result. However, the expensive construction meant that steel would be employed for all subsequent vehicles, but these cars would still retain aluminum doors, hood, and trunk lids. 1951 would see the introduction of the Fixed Head Coupe body style and the drophead version followed in 1953. Coinciding with these additions, Jaguar further offered an ‘SE’ option (Special Equipment) that featured a more powerful engine with higher lift camshafts and dual exhausts.
This 1954 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe, chassis #S680947, was completed in Coventry, England in the final year of production before the updated XK140 was released. First and foremost, the vehicle retained its original engine, #W9554-8, through the years and is a wonderful ‘matching numbers’ example. According to the title, the vehicle was initially delivered to a lucky individual in New Jersey and likely purchased through Hoffman in New York. In the 1970s, this XK120 came into the possession of Steve Helms, a Reading Pennsylvania-based English car specialist. Under his care, the Jaguar was fully restored to an incredible standard in 1983/4 which resulted in the vehicle receiving an AACA National First Prize award in 1985 and the medallion displaying this feat still accompanies the car to this day. In 1988, the Jaguar changed hands to the family who has kept the vehicle to this date. We believe this to be a 3 owner XK120.
Photos from the time of the restoration show the car completely stripped down to its base components. The body and chassis were separated and individually dealt with. Images of the pre-restoration chassis show the state of the mechanicals to be in fair condition, and the reassembled components showed like new after installation. The body is shown to have been stripped down to bare metal and repainted in a fresh coat of white paint while the interior was refinished with parchment leather.
Since the completion of the project, the car was sparingly driven, and just 1,300 miles have been put on the odometer. At the beginning of the1990s, this Jaguar had been placed within a climate-controlled storage facility and ran occasionally. However, in the past 5-10 years, the XK has remained untouched.
Today, the age of this restoration is beginning to show, mainly in the paint. Across the body, cracks are appearing, and at some point in the future, a fresh coat should be applied. Luckily, this is the only apparent visual flaw. The totality of the brightwork still shows with great luster from bumper to bumper. Equally, the interior has been barely worn thanks to the limited use over the years and the mild creasing of the seat leather appears as the only evidence of the mileage. The beautiful wood dash is free from cracks or peeling veneer and the gauges are crystal clear. Kept in this state, the vehicle would make for an inviting and usable driver allowing its next owner the type of carefree use afforded by not having to worry about damaging an expensive paint job.
Recently, the fuel and brake systems received some work in order to return the car to better mechanical condition after sitting for an extended period. We can further report that the XK motor ran strong through a short test. With any car that is fresh out of dormancy, caution should be exhibited when it comes to the various systems tasked with running the car. That being said, the engine bay and components sitting therein appear to be in generally good order. An invoice dated to 2005 from Steve Helms’ shop further outlines the rebuilding of the brake master cylinder, fitting of new wheels, installation of a new starter motor and water hoses, a carburetor rebuild, oil change with new filter, and an engine tune with new spark plugs. Lastly, the Jaguar will arrive with its tools, jack, spare tire, and air pump.
The XK120 offers one of the best classic motoring experiences money can buy. These Jaguars engage every sense in the most delightful way. The legendary XK motor is sonorous and powerful and the interior’s rich leather and ample wood exude the smell of luxury and quality. Even the 4-speed gearbox provides a satisfying, tactile throw into the gates. Best of all, these tremendous qualities are housed in one of the prettiest automotive bodies ever penned. It is no surprise that these Jaguars have been sought after since their introduction and their desirability will surely never wane. It is no question that a finely restored, matching numbers example like this will be cherished by its next owner.
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