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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Timeless Elegance - 1952 Jaguar XK120 Fixed-Head Coupe (FHC) For Sale

Ahh, finally! Wheels and wings in one place after my format change for this enthusiast site! I'll have to get more on those great biplanes in the background to share with you soon. Anyway, the car is the star of this particular post - and a particularly beautiful sporting machine it is. This Jaguar XK120 Fixed-Head Coupe (FHC) is an award-winning example of Jaguar's landmark postwar sports-car design, which begat the Le Mans 24 hours-winning C-Type sports racer, the XK140 and the XK150, cars that remain immensely drivable, enjoyable and thrilling today. 

The car that quickly became the XK120 was originally built simply as a display car to showcase the XK dual-overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, which initially delivered 160 bhp and remains historic for being the world's first high-volume twin-cam automobile engine. With a stout seven-main-bearing cylinder block, an aluminum dual-overhead camshaft cylinder head with hemispherical combustion chambers, the XK 'six' provided plenty of scope for further development. The engine's intended chassis, the Mark VII saloon (sedan) was not ready yet, however, so a rakish two-seat roadster, derived from the "100" experimental coupe of 1938, was designed as an interim measure, with design input directly from Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons. However, public fervor at the car's sensational debut at London's Earls Court Motor Show in the fall of 1948 forced Jaguar to prepare the XK120 for series production.

So named for its 120-plus mph top speed, the XK120 delivered on its promise and then some, with Jaguar test driver Ron Sutton clicking off a 132-plus mph blast in an early aluminum-bodied XK120 Roadster on the lightly travelled Jabbeke Highway in Belgium. The only modification was the removal of the car's windscreen to improve aerodynamics. While highly stylish, relatively softly sprung and value-priced, the XK120's enduring reputation was earned in the heat of competition. In 1949, a trio of XK120s contested the British Racing Drivers Club meeting at Silverstone, finishing 1-2, with the third car retiring early due only to a blown tire. In the hands of soon-to-be legend Stirling Moss, the XK120 took the 1950 Tourist Trophy and Ian Appleyard won the Alpine Rally three years straight in 1950, 1951, and 1952.

Predictably, given Britain's postwar "export or die" directives, Jaguar had the fast-growing US market in mind for the XK120, and the model was one of eventual Grand Prix World Champion Phil Hill's earliest mounts. Hill earned the first Jaguar racing victory Stateside at Torrey Pines, and the XK120 was established as "the car to beat" on both sides of the Atlantic, whether on the racing circuit or on the showroom floor.

The Fixed-Head Coupe (FHC) joined the Roadster for 1951 and with its elegantly rounded roof line, added a clear dash of sophistication to match the stellar engineering and sportiness of the basic XK120 design. The car of choice for long-distance touring, the Fixed-Head or FHC added a luxuriously veneer-trimmed dash and roll-up side windows. Only 2,680 FHCs were produced through 1954, with just 152 for the UK Home market and the bulk, numbering 2,528, destined for export. All surviving examples continue to be highly coveted and appreciated today.

The restoration of this stellar example from 1952 was completed in the early 2000s after approximately 10 years, at a cost of some USD $140,000, with the majority of work performed by the noted Mike Wilson's Restorations of Visalia, California. It is an original US-delivery, left-had drive car that benefits from limited use, proper storage, and remains virtually show-worthy today.  

The car is well restored and remains virtually perfect in condition as offered today. There are some spares with the vehicle including the original cylinder head (serial number matches) and the original fender skirts / "spats" for the rear wheels. Larger brakes were a factory option and are currently fitted to the car, with the originals also provided with the sale of the car. All restoration work is documented with invoices and receipts. Now in New Zealand, the car was registered and licensed in the USA, with the last registration current through 2004 when the car was registered in Nevada on personalized plates “52 JAG”, which also accompany the sale of the car. 

For further information or to discuss this exceptional opportunity for Jaguar collectors and aficionados, kindly post a comment below the post. A further selection of photographs follows.

1 comment:

  1. Great history of this beautiful car. Would that I could! I learned to drive a manual on my dad's '53 XK120 drop head coupe. If you're still hanging on to this, you should come out west for the Jaguar 'Run to the Gorge' from Seattle to the Columbia River! Awesome event with some beautiful cars.