1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster
Chassis no. 675622
Engine no. F3199-8
3,442cc inline six-cylinder
Four-speed manual transmission
Open Two Seater coachwork
Two long-term owners
Nicely patinated original car
"We claimed 120 mph (for the XK 120), a speed unheard of for a production car in those days" - William Heynes, Chief Engineer, Jaguar Cars.
The XK120 debuted at the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show, where the stunning-looking roadster caused a sensation, the resulting demand for what was then the world's fastest production car taking Jaguar by surprise. The work of Jaguar boss William Lyons himself and one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace an automobile, the body was conceived as a coachbuilt aluminum structure for the simple reason that Jaguar expected to sell no more than 200 XK120s in the first year! It was immediately obvious that the slow-to-produce alloy bodywork would have to go, and the car was swiftly re-engineered in steel. In conjunction with the Pressed Steel Fisher Company, a new all-steel paneled body was developed, which retained the fabulous looks of the coachbuilt original while differing in minor external details.
The car's heart was, of course, the fabulous XK engine, a 3.4-liter 'six' embodying the best of modern design, boasting twin overhead camshafts running in an aluminum-alloy cylinder head, seven main bearings and a maximum output of 160bhp. Jaguar lost no time in demonstrating that the XK120's claimed top speed was no idle boast. In May 1949, on the Jabbeke to Aeltre autoroute, an example with its hood and side screens in place recorded speeds of 126mph and 132mph with the hood and windscreen detached and an under-tray fitted. The XK120 set new standards of comfort, roadholding and performance for British sports cars and, in keeping with the Jaguar tradition, there was nothing to touch it at the price.
This 1954 XK120 Open Two Seater was donated by the previous long-term owner to the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in Brookline, Massachusetts in the early 1990s. Documents on file indicate the Jaguar had previously been acquired at auction on May 21, 1972. Finished in Old English White with black leather interior, the Jaguar showed approximately 90,000 miles at the time it was donated, having benefited from an engine rebuild sometime prior to this.
An earlier appraisal noted the car was a "previous trophy winner and has taken first place awards in Jaguar Concours National meets". The Museum's Executive Director, John H. Sweeney, a noted classic car collector and enthusiast in his own right, purchased the Jaguar in 1995 and used the car sparingly, mainly for rallies in New England. The Jaguar moved from Massachusetts to take up residence with Sweeney's brother in Washington in 2011, and now shows 14,177 miles on the clock. Having benefited from two long-term keepers over the past 40 years, this XK120 has been maintained in both substantially original and sound condition throughout.