Wed, 18th Mar 2020 13:00

Imperial War Museum Duxford

  Lot 68

1953 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe
A concours award and hillclimb championship winner uprated to 'fast road' spec

Sold for £80,500

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: UAS 478
Chassis No: 681228
MOT: January 2021

  • Entered from a private collection
  • Supplied new via Charles Hornburg of Los Angeles to a Cuban saxophonist
  • Used as a sand racer in California before being repatriated
  • Treated to a three-year restoration and upgrade programme by the vendor
  • Tuned 3.8 litre XK DOHC engine, Jaguar four-speed all-synchro gearbox plus overdrive, uprated suspension, front disc brakes, etc.
  • A hillclimb championship winning car which has since been used for fast road tours across twelve countries

For many the best looking XK120 variant, the Fixed Head Coupe was introduced in July 1951. A true design classic that was primarily targeted at the American market, some 2,485 of the 2,680 examples made were to left-hand drive specification. One such car – chassis 681228 – was supplied new via Charles Hornburg of Los Angeles to a Cuban saxophonist. Later used for sand racing, it was still resident in California when repatriated during 2000. Acquired by the vendor shortly thereafter, the Jaguar was subject to a three-year, body off / chassis up restoration and upgrade programme. The original 3.4 litre engine was set aside in favour of a tuned 3.8 litre unit which had been specially prepared by Tim Kemp of Vintage Sports Engines (VSE) for his own use. Fed by twin SU HD8 2-inch carburettors, it also sported a C-Type cylinder head, bespoke tubular steel exhaust system (including the manifold), aluminium radiator, aluminium catch tank, Kenlowe fan, electronic 1-2-3 ignition and hotter camshafts etc.

The installation of a later all-synchromesh Jaguar four-speed manual gearbox plus overdrive yielded quicker gearchanges and more relaxed high-speed cruising (the vendor reporting that ‘UAS 478’ will happily maintain a 100mph plus gait on suitable roads). New wire wheels shod with Avon tyres were fitted all round as were Coopercraft front disc brakes. Repositioning the single 12volt battery which formed part of the new negative earth electrical system allowed the two 6volt battery boxes located behind the seats to be removed yielding some much-needed extra legroom. As currently configured, a 6ft 2in adult can just about drive the car but there is room for the seat to be moved back further still (though, a less comfortable pew would also provide additional space). Koni telescopic rear shock absorbers quelled axle tramp, while a competition anti-roll bar helped stiffen up the front end. No less attention was lavished on the cosmetics with new panels being added as required and much lead loading before the car was painted Silver Metallic by Barkston Refinishing of Grantham. Guy Broad supplied the bucket seats and Graham Dean re-trimmed the interior with Mid Blue leather upholstery, Grey carpets, repolished woodwork and a new headliner.

The end result was a car that not only won the XK Club’s Hillclimb Championship but also took to the Concours d’Elegance field at Angouleme in 2004. Joined by Tim Kemp of VSE on various tours and rallies, the vendor has visited twelve countries aboard ‘UAS 478’. Still bearing the windscreen sticker that gained it access to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg during July 2006, other adventures have seen the Jaguar complete a Rallye des Alpes and timed at 128mph. A proven entity on competitive tours and rallies not to mention an exhilaratingly fast road car, this beautiful XK120 Fixed Head Coupe is offered for sale with V5C Registration Document, Heritage Certificate and history file.


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