1954 Jaguar XK-120

Sir William Lyons and the team at Browns Lane did not anticipate the phenomenal success of the Jaguar XK120, whose post-war focus was the MKVII Saloon. Both the Saloon's chassis and XK engine neared completion by 1948, which prompted Lyons to contemplate a sports car powered by the new DOHC unit. The decision was made to design and build an XK-powered two-seater sports car in time for display at the phenomenal success of the Jaguar XK120 - this gave the team just six weeks to complete the impossible task.

The plan was, depending on public reaction, to hand-build several hundred Roadsters as required. The public's approval was unexpected prompting a complete rethink of the entire project. Production would span five years and manufactured in three different body styles (originally only available as a roadster), including a Roadster, Fixed Head Coupe (introduced for the 1952 model year) and Drophead Coupe Introduced in 1953). The combined production volumes reached 12,055.

The car on display at the Earls Court Show was a Bronze show car. The second car completed was used to confirm the model's top speed potential to the press (chassis number 670002). It was driven to its maximum speed on the Jabbeke straight, Belgium, in May 1949, achieving 126.448mph over the flying mile with hood and side screens erected. It achieved 132.596 mph in stripped form.

The XK120 combined elegant styling with a rugged chassis and embodied everything great in a sports car. The dual overhead cam 'XK' six-cylinder engine was conceived during the war by William Lyons and his talented engineers led by William Heynes. Engine designer Harry Weslake also contributed to the effort, who took both Lyons' and Heynes' design and honed their creation to perfection. Although the dual overhead cam engines were not a new idea, its use in a series-production sports car was a rarity. The engine had large main bearings and hemispherical combustion chambers, which provided durability, maximum output, and reasonable fuel economy.

The XK 120 had an independent front suspension sprung by torsion bars, with a Salisbury limited-slip live rear axle riding on leaf springs outback. Large four-wheel drum brakes provided adequate stopping power, though prone to fading when pushed too hard. The XK twin cam engine offered 160 horsepower in standard form, and upwards of 210 horsepower in later models.

On the track, Jaguar dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans starting in 1951 when Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead piloted their racing prepped XK120C to victory.

The very first customer-delivered XK 120 went to Clark Gable, a man known for his impeccable taste in beautiful cars.


by Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2019

Related Reading : Jaguar XK120 History

The Jaguar XK120 was designed to be a prestigious vehicle and produced in low numbers. The designation 120 represented the vehicles top speed of 120 miles-per-hour. At the time, it was the fastest production car in the world. The British automotive industry was greatly influenced by World War II. Many manufacturers went out of business due to the lack of funds, fuel and supply shortages, or their....
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1954 Vehicle Profiles

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

The XK 120 debut in the fall of 1948 was nothing less than a sensation. It was sleek, beautiful and strikingly modern. The XK motor was engineered by Harry Westlake. It was the world's first high-volume twin-cam engine and would prove remarkably r....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

When the sedan designed around Jaguar's new XK engine wasn't finished in time, the British automaker showcased the powerplant in a prototype roadster for the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show, in London. The company anticipated producing perhaps 120 of th....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

Chassis Num: F31708S

The XK engine would become the mainstay of all future Jaguar products over the next six decades. It would carry Jaguar to five Le Mans 24 Hour victories between 1951 and 1957.....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Sport Roadster

Most of the 240 alloy-bodied XK120s were exported, providing the funds needed for Jaguar to forge ahead with production of over 7,500 steel-bodied XK 120s. This late production XK120M (or SE for Special Equipment) was purchased new by the current own....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

This car is powered by a 3.5 liter, 168 horsepower, inline six-cylinder engine. The XK series were produced until 1970, when Jaguar introduced a much larger engine. ....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

HardTop Coupe

Chassis Num: S669195
Engine Num: F3215-8S

This completely restored XK 120 was the last fixed head coupe off the production line back in July of 1954. Trimmed in the rare Suede Green inside and out, there is no finer example of a FHC. Powered by the revolutionary double over head cam 3.4 lite....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

HardTop Coupe

Chassis Num: 681463
Engine Num: F2875-8

Dispatched by Jaguar works to New York dealer/distributor Max Hoffman on April 27, 1954, this car has covered only 55,000 miles in its half-century of existence. The subject of a bolt-by-bolt restoration that was finished around 2003 by Jaguar marqu....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

Chassis Num: S 674498
Engine Num: F 1410-8S

This 1954 Jaguar XK 120SE Roadster was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Amelia Island, Florida where it was estimated to sell between $80,000 - $100,000. The car is powered by a 3442 cc twin overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engi....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

This 1954 Jaguar is equipped with the factory SE performance package which includes increased power and dual exhaust allowing it to reach 140 MPH and stiffer suspension and chrome wire wheels. It was originally sold in New Mexico and has less than 2....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

Chassis Num: S674682

This 1954 Jaguar XK120SE Roadster has traveled 24,700 miles since new, and has been in the care of one owner its entire life. In 2007 it was brought to the Bonhams Auction, An Important Sale of Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, held at t....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

Chassis Num: F26948SS675341

In 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Roadster was brought to the Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction presented by RM Auctions, where it had an estimated value of $90,000 - $110,000. Bidding would soon surpass those estimates, before settling at $121,000 includ....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

HardTop Coupe

Jaguar has long enjoyed a storied history of dashing styling, high performance and memorable racing victories. The venerable British brand was founded by Sir William Lyons and William Walmsley, two-wheel enthusiasts actually, as the Swallow Sidecar C....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Sport Roadster

The Jaguar XK120 was launched in open two-seater roadster form at the 1948 London Motor Show. It heralded a huge change in fortunes for the postwar Jaguar Company; sales in the United States soon brought in much-needed cash. ....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Sport Convertible

Jaguar envisioned the new XK120 as a hand-built specialty car of just 200 alloy-bodied, ash-framed units. After its debut at the 1948 London Motor Show, demand was so high that the XK120 became a production vehicle. The '120' was intended to represen....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Sport Roadster

This 1954 Jaguar XK 120 M Roadster was ordered new by Fred Dagavar on May 5, 1954. Fred was a New York City based journeyman racer who raced on the East coast dating back to the 1930s. It was his daily driver. In 1955 he drove it, with his co-driver ....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Drophead Coupe

This 1954 Jaguar XK 120 SE was first purchased by F.J. Hake in April of 1954. It is an open two-seater Jaguar with left-hand-drive and a manual transmission. It was purchased by Mark Outopal, during his college years in 1963. Mr. Outopal drove the ca....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

HardTop Coupe

First available only as an Open Top Roadster, Jaguar began offering the XK120 as a closed coupe known as the Fixed Head Coupe (FHC) in 1951. The FHC provided a closed cabin for protection during inclement weather. The model also included roll-up wind....[continue reading]

1954 Jaguar XK-120 vehicle information

Sport Roadster

The Jaguar XK 120 was launched in roadster form in 1948 at the London Motor Show as a testbed and show car for the new Jaguar XK engine designed by Chief Engineer William Heynes. The sports car caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and C....[continue reading]

Drophead Coupe
 
Drophead Coupe
 
Drophead Coupe
Chassis #: F31708S 
Sport Roadster
 
Drophead Coupe
 
HardTop Coupe
Chassis #: S669195 
HardTop Coupe
Chassis #: 681463 
Drophead Coupe
Chassis #: S 674498 
Drophead Coupe
 
Drophead Coupe
Chassis #: S674682 
Drophead Coupe
Chassis #: F26948SS675341 
HardTop Coupe
 
Sport Roadster
 
Sport Convertible
 
Sport Roadster
 
Drophead Coupe
 
HardTop Coupe
 
Sport Roadster
 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1954 XK-120
$4,000-$18,050
1954 Jaguar XK-120 Price Range: $3,350 - $4,000

$4,120 - $4,290

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Jaguar
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)5,839
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)4,607
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)3,685
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Buick (572,024)3,685
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)3,573
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)3,349
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)3,349
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)3,349
1951Chevrolet (1,229,986)Ford (1,013,381)Plymouth (611,000)1,702
1950Chevrolet (1,498,590)Ford (1,208,912)Plymouth (610,954)912
1949Ford (1,118,308)Chevrolet (1,010,013)Plymouth (520,385)158

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