Restored 1953 Jaguar XK120 SE Fixed Head Coupé is Beyond Gorgeous

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Jaguar XK120 SE Fixed Head Coupé 

Exquisite Jaguar XK120 SE restoration is making us lose our minds.

It’s one thing to see a full restoration of a classic Jaguar. It’s another when it’s one of the few of remaining examples of Jaguar’s first post-war sports cars. Only 2,800 Fixed Head Coupé XK120’s were made during their 3-year production.

The original open-top roadster version was conceived to show off the then-new XK engine and had such a positive response that William Lyons put it into production. Initially, the XK120 was built using wood in the frame, but by the time this car was produced, it was switched to being all-steel. Over its production period the car was available in three versions. The initial open two-seater, the drop head coupé and as of 1953, as this fix-head coupé. The SE part of XK120 SE means it has the desirable Special Equipment package. The package includes wire wheels and a horsepower bump, from 190 horsepower to 210.

The open-top version’s history is littered with records and racing success. In 1949 it was the fastest production car in the world, but in 1952 a fixed-head coupé driven for 7 days and 7 nights by drivers including Stirling Moss, Leslie Johnson, and William Lyons himself, maintained a heroic average speed of 100.31 mph. Heroic because the suspension suffered a broken spring during the run and Johnson took a nine-hour stint to limit the risk of running at high-speed on the broken suspension to himself. Ultimately the fixed-head coupé took the world 72-hour record as well as a bunch of class records.


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The example we found on sports a rebuilt numbers matching engine, but also some smart modifications have been added. The 6-volt battery has been replaced with a modern 12-volt unit along with a whole new wiring harness. The factory rope seals have been upgraded to stainless and Teflon and it has a stainless steel ceramic coated exhaust. The colors are also very different from the original. The Dove Gray paint is gone and replaced by British Racing Green. The Suede Green interior is now finished with a beige leather.

The only criticism we can really level at this restoration is the color changes. While British Racing Green and a beige interior is the classic combination and has stood the test of time, it’s become the go-to for a restoration project that’s intended to be sold on. Although this XK120 SE is something that would bring a tear of joy to our eyes in the flesh, there’s something to be said for original variations in color.

With such a strong example of the breed, restored to this high of a level, the sale price of $110,000 is unsurprising. It’s worth it.

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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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