Jaguar XK120 SE Roadster is Timeless

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1954 XK120 SE Roadster.

Jaguar XK120 SE Roadster just needs a little TLC to become the perfect collector car.

The XK120 was a breakthrough car for Jaguar. The X prefix was originally meant to be used to denote a small production run vehicle, and the XK120 was supposed to be a 200 model test bed vehicle for Jaguar’s upcoming saloon car engine. However, when Jaguar used the XK120 as a display car at the 1948 London Motor Show the positive feedback was so strong that Sir William Lyons put it into full production.

This wonderful example we’ve come across on Bring-a-Trailer is an XK120 SE Roadster that was born in 1954. That means it’s on the full steel frame chassis rather than wood framed earlier versions. What grabbed us here is how it’s the perfect example of what a collector could look for and didn’t need a full restoration.

It’s not perfect, but it has all the ingredients you would want to bring it to a very high level or to keep almost as is to enjoy driving. It’s a one-owner car, although sadly it’s from the estate of that owner via a dealer. The white over tan leather is a classic and timeless look and, for increased desirability, this XK120 SE Roadster is designated as a rarer Special Equipment model with the wire wheels and dual exhausts. It’s obviously been well loved for most of its life and still has the manual, foot pump, tonneau cover and the side curtains. However, it doesn’t have the full top to go with the car.


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What makes this the sort of Jaguar to particularly look for is that it was resprayed a few decades ago in the original color, but the paint shows chips and scratches and there is visible rust on the sheet metal inside the trunk close to the spare wheel. There’s also a small oil leak, the car is reported to shimmy at 45 mph and pull slightly to one side under braking. A respray will be expensive, but turn the car into something very special. The mechanical issues are likely to be maintenance jobs at best, and at worst shouldn’t need major reconstruction as there are no accidents reported.

When people use the term, “An honest car,” this is what they mean and why these kinds of sales still go for solid money. It’s not perfect but everything can be explained or remedied. The biggest expense would be finding a replacement soft top. We would have some paint correction done and take care of the mechanical issues, but wouldn’t blame anyone for going for the full respray and go that extra mile to bring it to mint condition. Either way, it’s a piece of history to be admired and enjoyed.

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Ian Wright has been a professional writer for two years and is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum, Jaguar Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

His obsession with cars started young and has left him stranded miles off-road in Land Rovers, being lost far from home in hot hatches, going sideways in rallycross cars, being propelled forward in supercars and, more sensibly, standing in fields staring at classic cars. His first job was as a mechanic and then trained as a driving instructor before going into media production.

The automotive itch never left though, and he realized writing about cars is his true calling. However, that doesn’t stop him from also hosting the Both Hand Drive podcast.

Ian can be reached at [email protected]

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