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Lot 530: Jaguar XK120 Drophead Coupe

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

Jaguar stunned the world with the new XK-120 roadster, the star of the 1948 Earl's Court Motor Show. Officially designated "Open Two Seater" by the company, the lithe, low roadster had a long hood and shortened haunches. Faired-in headlamps were a first for the automaker, and the first examples were clothed in aluminium. Demand was immediate, and a high-speed run on the Jabbeke highway in Belgium demonstrated that "120" in the model name could easily be exceeded on the road. The dual overhead-cam six-cylinder engine had an aluminium head with hemispherical combustion chambers and an iron block with seven main bearings. Displacement was 3,442cc; compression of 8.0 to 1 and dual sidedraft SU carburettors resulted in 160bhp at 5,000rpm. U.S. deliveries began in August 1949 through the Hoffman Motor Company in New York. Increased production resulted in a change to steel bodies in 1950. Also available, was the XK120SE, or "Special Equipment", which included wire wheels, upgraded suspension, dual exhaust and a C-Type cylinder head. With these improvements, the XK120SE saw an increase in horsepower to 180. A curvaceous Fixed Head Coupe joined the Open Two Seater in August 1951, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Offering full weather protection with roll-up windows and a capacious luggage compartment, it was especially suited for long-distance touring. Full fender skirts provided particularly sleek body contours, but ruled out the use of knock-off wire wheels. Side vents were added to the body, ducting outside air into the footwells when open, especially welcome in warm climates. Bridging a gap between the Fixed Head Coupe and Open Two Seater was a new Drop Head Coupe, first shown at New York in April 1953. Stylistically, it was not as pure as either the FHC or OTS, but what it lacked in flowing lines it made up for in comfort and versatility. With just 1,767 built, the Drop Head Coupe is the rarest of XK-120 variants. As designated by its chassis number, S677020 is a Special Equipment model, and would have been only the 20th drophead to have been built, the sequence for these starting at 677001. Almost certainly delivered to the U.S. as new, it was acquired by Charles H. Brown's mother in Lake Forest, Illinois on 28th August 1954 and has remained within their family ever since. A file of documentation with the car charts early U.S. road registrations and receipts for maintenance going back to the 1950s, and alluding to the family interest in motoring, the car still wears as Sports Car Club of America sticker in its windscreen which must date from the '50s or '60s. Close inspection of the car today, both in terms of paint and its interior seems to suggest that the car was never restored, its leather while clearly old, shows only limited wear and the headlining for the convertible roof is in remarkably good order. Although not proven, it seems possible that the mileage which reads in the low teens, could be from new. With its single ownership virtually from new and seemingly remarkably original and unspoilt order, this XK can almost certainly be considered as a potential preservation class candidate, making it all the more desirable. Footnote: Although Mr. Brown had shipped the car to the U.K. in 1990 as a personal import, there is no evidence that it was ever re-registered for the British or European roads, which will need to be accomplished by the buyer, Bonhams can assist with this aspect if necessary.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
TypeCar
Lot Number530
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€81000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€93150
Year1953
Condition rating5
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis numberS677020
Engine numberW7566-8S
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors