One of the most iconic and significant sports cars ever made, the Jaguar XK120 created a sensation when it appeared in 1948 because it represented such a stark departure from the austerity of World War II. In those years, the economically battered United Kingdom staggered back into the global industrial market by hurriedly rushing warmed over prewar cars into production. In fact, all car manufacturers did this to meet the tremendous postwar demand for cars.
Surrounded by what were essentially 1930s designs, the entirely new and thoroughly modern XK120 was a genuinely earth-shattering car, a truly contemporary and avant-garde car to boost the morale of Britons and demonstrate to the world the resiliency of the United Kingdom. The XK120 appeared at the Earls Court Motor Show, initially as a concept car to showcase Jaguar`s remarkable new dual overhead cam inline-6 cylinder engine. It was never intended to go into full scale production, but its breathtaking styling, sophisticated mechanical underpinnings, and its genuine 120 mph performance captured the imagination of the public. The largely hand-built aluminum-bodied car was rushed into limited production at a surprisingly affordable price and Jaguar was selling as many as they could make. Realizing that they needed to produce the cars in genuine volume, Jaguar reengineered the car to switch to mass production with steel bodies and thus cemented the XK120 as the start of one of the most important sports car dynasties of the 20th century.
This particular car was supplied new to a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force stationed in Dusseldorf, Germany in July of 1953, finished in Pastel Blue with two-tone blue interior and gray soft top. When it was five years old, it was acquired by a long term owner, who kept the car approximately 55 years and used the car regularly for decades, eventually starting a sympathetic refurbishment in 2000, which then became a full on restoration in 2007. This complete restoration was completed in 2011, with a total expenditure of between 2000 and 2011 totaling $109,000. During this process, the color was changed to the iconic combination of British Racing Green with Tan interior. Disc brakes were added at the front, as well as a 5-speed transmission and aluminum radiator. The car has a stainless steel Falcon exhaust system as well, which is a sport-oriented system which is more aggressive in sound than the standard system. The parts were supplied by the usual reputable sources such as XKs Unlimited and Classic Jaguar, and the restoration itself performed by Best of Britain in Vermont. The car’s current owner is a collector who acquired it in 2013 and has used it sparingly since.
The car remains in excellent shape, with a few indications of the passage of time since the restoration was completed, but an overall presentation that is quite crisp. The paintwork was performed to high standards and applied to straight panels with excellent gaps, panel fit, and operation. There is a small dent on the left door, as well as some scratches on the rear cowl from the installation and removal of the soft top. The brightwork is in excellent shape, showing only the lightest mellowing, while the glass and lights are nearly unmarked. The interior is in similarly nice condition, with excellent leather upholstery throughout. The gauges and switches are in effectively freshly restored condition, while the carpets show some light soiling. The engine compartment and trunk were comprehensively and correctly restored and show virtually no aging since the work was completed. The car retains its matching-numbers engine, per the included Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Certificate, although the cylinder head was replaced at some point with an upgraded 8S suffix head indicating that is the famed C-Type head as fitted to the XK120 SE. The car is extensively documented, with a thick file of invoices and photos from the restoration, as well as a handful of documents and photos dating as far back as the late 1950s. Also included are a canvas tonneau cover, unrestored side curtains, and car cover.