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The Amelia Island Auction / The 1955 Geneva Motor Show1954 Jaguar XK120 SE CoupéCoachwork by Carrozzeria Pinin FarinaChassis no. 675360Engine no. F2735-8S

Lot 241
Ω
The 1955 Geneva Motor Show
1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Coupé
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Pinin Farina
Amended
3 March 2022, 13:00 EST
Fernandina Beach Golf Club

Sold for US$940,000 inc. premium

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1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Coupé
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Pinin Farina

Chassis no. 675360
Engine no. F2735-8S

3,442cc DOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU carburetors
180bhp at 5,300rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Independent Front Suspension, Rear Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

*The only Jaguar XK120 bodied by Pinin Farina
*First imported to New York by Max Hoffman
*Desirable Special Equipment (SE) version, matching numbers
*Recently restored to 100-point concours condition
*Pebble Beach concours award winner in 2017



THE JAGUAR XK120

"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.

Arguably the most famous of all the re-bodied Jaguar XK120s, this solitary example by Carrozzeria Pinin Farina was dispatched new as a standard SE Roadster to Max Hoffman (Jaguar's US East Coast distributor) in New York in May 1954.

Conceived and constructed in but a few months, the XK120 had 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. With orders rolling in apace, Jaguar had no choice but to think again about the XK120's method of construction. The work of Jaguar boss William Lyons himself and one of the most beautiful shapes ever to grace a motor car, the body had been conceived as a coachbuilt, aluminum paneled structure for the simple reason that Jaguar expected to sell no more than 200 XK120s in the first year! 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. Beneath the skin the steel car was entirely different and it would take some 20 months of development before manufacture could begin.

The XK120's heart was, of course, the fabulous XK engine, which had been developed during the war and was intended for Jaguar's forthcoming Mark VII saloon. A 3.4-liter 'six' embodying the best of modern design, it boasted twin overhead camshafts running in an aluminum-alloy cylinder head, seven main bearings and a maximum output of 160bhp. It went into a chassis that was essentially a shortened version of the simultaneously announced Mark V saloon's, featuring William Heynes' torsion bar independent front suspension. 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 a speed of 126mph and 132mph with the hood and windscreen detached and an under-tray fitted.

The XK120 set new standards of comfort, road holding and performance for British sports cars and, in keeping with the Jaguar tradition, there was nothing to touch it at the price. Coupé and drophead coupé versions followed, and for customers who found the standard car too slow, there was the Special Equipment (SE) package which boosted power to 180bhp. With either engine and regardless of the type of bodywork, the XK120 was a genuine 120mph car capable of sustained high-speed cruising. The XK120 was produced until 1954 and would prove to be the most popular of the XK series, with 12,078 examples built, of which 2,194 were left-hand drive SE roadsters like that offered here.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

Chassis number 'S675360' was manufactured on 5th April 1954 and dispatched to Max Hoffmann on 25th May '54. The accompanying Jaguar Heritage Trust certificate reveals that the car left the Browns Lane factory fitted with engine number 'F2735-8S' and that it was originally finished in Pastel Blue with blue interior trim and a French Grey soft-top. The original dealer and first owner are not recorded.

In 1955 the XK120 was featured in The Autocar magazine, described as an "XK120... by Pinin Farina... for an American enthusiast". The car was displayed at the Turin Motor Show in May 1955. According to marque specialist Roland Urban, the car was also displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1956 (see Jaguar XK120 in Detail by Anders Ditlev Clausager, Heritage & Sons, 2006). Urban reproduces a color photograph of 'S675360' in his book on special-bodied Jaguars – Les Metamorphoses du Jaguar (1993) – showing it finished in metallic grey (the photograph is reproduced laterally reversed, making the XK appear right-hand drive!). However, it has to be said that there are differences of opinion with regard to the shows/dates. In his book Pininfarina, Antoine Prunet states that the XK120 was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1955, and that "it may have been constructed for a private client". Prunet found the treatment of the front bumpers similar to that of Pinin Farina's Lancia Aurelia B24S.

It is quite likely - probable even - that Autocar's "American enthusiast" and Prunet's "private client" were Max Hoffmann himself, as is now commonly assumed. And Hoffmann already had plenty of form when it came to commissioning exotica from European manufacturers, having been the prime mover behind the BMW 507, Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, and Porsche Speedster. In the case of this XK120, the result is an inspired combination of British sports car engineering and Italian design flair. Sadly, both Hoffmann's and Pinin Farina's records have long since been lost and it is not known to whom Hoffman sold the car.

The trail picks up again in 1958 when Mr Peter MacFarlane photographed the XK120 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada (see file). The car was painted red with a cream hardtop. Its owner was from Newton, Massachusetts and was in town preparing for a fishing trip (an attached plate indicated that he was a member of the Newton Auxiliary Police). There are other photographs of the car in the file taken in 1967 and circa 1971.

In 1972, Pinin Farina's XK120 was acquired in a very sorry state by Ron Foster of Wilmington, North Carolina, who had discovered the car in a field in Connecticut. Research suggests that Mr Fred Nader of New Hampshire sold the XK to the Connecticut owner. When Ron Foster bought the car its hardtop had been removed but fortunately was still present. He had the car repainted and re-trimmed and used it on the road, minus the missing rear windshield, until he sold it to collector Ludwig Draxel-Fischer in Germany circa 1978. Mr Draxel-Fischer brought the car back to Europe with the intention of restoring it for his collection. However, he never got around to it and when his long-time mechanic died he offered the car to Jaguar Heritage. They declined but someone there contacted current vendor Peter Neumark, Chairman of the Employee Ownership Trust that runs Classic Motor Cars, who, having found some original photos of the car and thought it looked wonderful, went to Germany the following day and bought it.

The purchase was made in 2015 and CMC immediately set about restoring the Jaguar to its former glory. The 6,275-hour, last-nut-and-bolt restoration to '100-point' concours condition faced numerous hurdles, including the challenge of finding the original paint color and having to remake the bumpers and rear windshield.

"Some of the original parts were impossible to find so we had to remake items such as the bumpers and chrome work by hand from photographs," said David Barzilay, Marketing Director at CMC "We had to scan the front and rear end of the car and make mock ups of the lights, which were then scanned and 3D printed. Smaller missing parts were also 3D printed in-house. The rear window was missing so we also had to scan the window aperture and have a new rear screen made from the scan data."

Other restoration details included a full body makeover including a new front end, rear quarter panels, inner arch panels, boot floor, sills, and door skins. The chassis was fully repaired and repainted, and the front and rear bumpers were remade together with 80% of the original chrome-work and the rear windshield and windshield surround. The interior was completely re-trimmed.

Under the hood, the engine and gearbox were rebuilt. The 3.4-litre straight-six now produces 180 horsepower and drives via the original manual gearbox. The car was completed to original Jaguar equipment specification and took home a 2nd place award at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours (class 0-2 Postwar Closed). CMC Chairman Peter Neumark said: "It was a privilege to take the cover off this long-lost Jaguar at one of the most important concours in the world." The car also won the highly prestigious International Historic Restoration of the Year Award in 2017 as a result of its stunning return to 1955 Geneva Motor Show condition. Today, this unique and historic Jaguar XK120 is still in first class condition and worthy of the closest inspection.

Footnotes

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