1951 Jaguar XK120 Roadster
The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley. In 1934 Lyons formed SS Cars Limited to effectively take over the operation from Walmsley. The SS brand was quite successful; though they had a reputation for having ‘more show than go’. The Jaguar name first appeared as a model name on an SS 2½ Litre Sports Saloon introduced in 1936. For political reasons, Lyons changed the name of his company to Jaguar Cars in 1945.
Whilst the SS100 is indeed a fabulous car, it was the launch of the legendary Jaguar XK120 at the London Motor Show in 1948 that really put Jaguar on the map. The car caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. The “120” in its name referred to its 120 mph top speed, which made the XK120 the world’s fastest production car in its day. It was available in two open versions, first as the roadster (designated OTS, for open two-seater), then also as a drophead coupe (DHC) from 1953. The car was also available as a closed or fixed head coupe (FHC) from 1951.
The XK120 was succeeded by the XK140 which was launched in late 1954 and sold through until 1957. Whilst the XK140 looked similar to the XK120 there were in fact many subtle and indeed important differences. The XK140 featured a more spacious cabin and had improved brakes, suspension and steering. Visually the car had American style bumpers with overriders, a different grille (that had fewer, thicker vertical bars), a chrome strip on the bonnet & boot and an emblem “Jaguar Winner Le Mans 1951-3” on the boot.
The final iteration of the XK was the XK150 that was released in 1957. Whilst its family resemblance to its forbearers is obvious the XK150 was in fact a very different car. Most noticeable was the change to a one piece windscreen and the smoother ‘wing line’ from the front to the rear of the car. Cabin space was significantly improved making the XK150 a far more comfortable car to drive. Mechanically the first XK150’s were similar to the XK140’s, however, an ‘SE’ variant with a modified cylinder head giving more power and an ‘S’ variant with triple SU carburettors giving even more power were soon available. In 1959 engine capacity was increased from 3.4 litres to 3.8 litres.
Like the XK120 both the XK140 and XK150 were offered in three body styles being the roadster, drophead coupe and fixed head coupe.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a factory left hand drive 1951 Jaguar XK120 that was delivered new to the north American market. According to the Jaguar Heritage Certificate on file this particular car was completed on the 8th June 1951 and despatched on the 20th June 1951 to Hornborg, Los Angeles in the USA. The car was originally finished in ‘pastel blue’ with a ‘duo-blue’ interior and a fawn soft top.
The car is documented in the following books: The Jaguar XK120 in the Southern Hemisphere (2009) by John Elmgreen and Terry McGrath. The car’s history stated below is an extract from that book:
Chassis completed in June 1951 and despatched 20 June 1951 to Hornburg, Los Angeles, California, USA. Sold possibly to Dr E. Charland of Inglewood, California via Cavilar Motors of Los Angeles, California (however, this was not recorded by the factory). In December 1954 the car was sold by him to Edgar Zwieback of 175 Cordova Walk, Long Beach, California, and apparently owned by him at least into the 1970s. Nothing further known until the late 1980s when it was purchased in the USA by Peter Fox of Victoria, and imported into Australia. Said to be part of well-known businessman Lindsay Fox’s collection. During the 1990s, the car was completely restored, including being repainted in its original Pastel Blue metallic. In March 2005 it went to auction with Bonhams and Goodmans at the Fox collection site in Docklands, Melbourne and was sold, apparently with just 19 miles recorded since the restoration. Still lhd at that time.
Original colours: Pastel Blue, Duo Blue, Fawn.
Regd: GGF710 (California, USA), KIF708 (California, USA).
This car was one of several XKs purchased by Peter Fox and the second car restored by the Foxes. Terry McGrath.
The current owner acquired this STUNNING Jaguar XK120 Roadster in December 2005 following its ‘no sale’ at the Bonhams & Goodman Sydney auction in March 2005. This car is part of a major collection and it has been used sparingly since being purchased. Today the odometer reads 02715 miles.
It’s hard to believe that this car was restored in excess of twenty years ago. Granted it has hardly been driven, but everything is still very ‘fresh’. Today the car presents beautifully. When you look at this car, with spats fitted and presented in the ‘most perfect’ colour scheme it is not hard to understand why the world went crazy for the Jaguar XK120 in 1948! The paint work on the car remains excellent all round with the only blemish some crazing where the soft top has rubbed against the body. All of the exterior trim, glass and chrome are also in excellent condition. The only exception being the exhaust tip which shows a few very light spots and there is the odd light scratch or mark on the chrome windscreen frame. Inside the cabin is quite simple, yet it oozes class. The leather remains subtle and clean and all of the instruments & controls (which are working order) are crisp and clear. The carpet has a few bare patches that have most likely been caused by moths. You may notice from the photo that the driver’s door pull strap is missing. A replacement has been sourced and will be fitted prior to sale. The engine bay is clean & well presented and the boot looks to be unused. The soft top fits well and is in excellent condition.
So what’s it like to drive? It’s fair to say it drives every bit as good as it looks. The engine starts easily and then it grumbles a little until the automatic choke turns off. It warms up quickly and then it’s all systems go. You are immediately surprised by the throttle response, which is almost instant. The performance of the car is really good. Everything is tight, just a like a freshly restored car! The gearbox is as smooth as a Moss box can be and the car steers and stops as it should.
There is an unused spare wheel, jack and tool kit that will accompany the car.
This Jaguar XK120 Roadster ticks all the boxes. The car retains its original ‘matching numbers’ engine block which is unusual for many XK’s. When restored it was finished in its original colour – which is ‘just perfect’ for the car – and the finishing touch are the spats which complete the look.
We have had the pleasure of handling a number of Jaguar XK’s over the years and this one is without doubt the very best. Classic Jaguars are in high demand and these early XK’s are just so ‘very cool’ . . . and perhaps this example is the ‘coolest cat’ of them all!
- Jaguar XK120
- 2,715 miles