1954 Jaguar XK120 DHC
s/n 678359 Eng. No. F3028-8
Old English White with Red Leather
Following World War II, the economically battered United Kingdom staggered back into the global industrial market by hurriedly rushing warmed over prewar cars into production. Thus, the entirely new and thoroughly modern XK 120 was a genuinely earth-shattering car, a truly contemporary and avant-garde car to boost the morale of Britons, and demonstrate to the world the resiliency of the United Kingdom. Introduced in 1948 as a concept car to showcase Jaguar`s remarkable new twin-cam inline-6 cylinder engine, the XK 120 was never intended to go into full scale production. However, its breathtaking, swoopy, and beautiful styling as well as its genuine 120 mph performance (not to mention the surprisingly affordable price) captured the imagination of the public, and the largely hand-built aluminum-bodied car was rushed into limited production. Jaguar was selling as many as they could make, so the car was reengineered as necessary to switch to mass production with steel bodies. Though the roadster was the first model, the drophead coupe preserved the open air experience, but added the convenience and luxury of wood dashboard and door caps, windup windows, external door handles, quarter windows, and proper insulated top.
Detailed notes courtesy of the owner:
Further Notes: Car was exported to Steven Hornburg, the U.S. West Coast Distributor in Los Angeles. So far as I know, it has always resided in California. It currently has California black and yellow license plates, that date to 1963. Though the VIN and engine numbers indicate that the car was built as a standard model, there is every indication that it is a special equipment model, either because only special equipment parts were available at the factory, given that Jaguar was gearing up for production of the XK140 at that time (late May), or someone special ordered the car with SE equipment and other variations. This information was provided to me by the archivists at Jaguar in 1999.
I’ve maintained many XK model Jaguars in years past, and have performed a couple of ‘body off’ restorations. I’ve owned this car since April 1988, and have known the car since 1979. The previous owner, R.M. Mutchler, MD, of Oakland, purchased it in 1976 from a man in Hayward who had owned it for several years. All numbers (VIN, Engine, Body and Gearbox) match those originally specified at the Browns Lane factory, and I have the certificate from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust to verify this.
The car went through a partial restoration in 1976, when Wes Mutcher first purchased it. The work was done by Steve Miller in Emeryville. The car was repainted at that time, a new top installed, and the interior was replaced.
I drove the car many times between 1984 and 1988, often taking it on trips to Point Reyes, Napa, and other locales not far from Oakland. When I bought it, my intent was to improve the mechanics on the car, and to make it a reliable driver. To that end, I replaced the clutch and completely rebuilt the braking system, installing friction materials linings on the front drums, milling and brass sleeving the front wheel cylinders, etc. I also had the radiator rodded out. Between 1988 and 1994 I drove the car on long trips with confidence. This included trips to Eureka, CA and north, 3 trips to Mt. Lassen (5 hrs each way, a couple of trips to Monterey, CA for the historic races, and numerous trips to Napa, Point Reyes, etc. On two occasions, I got it up to 110 mph, and there was room to go faster. The car never left me stranded.
In 1994, returning from Mt. Lassen, the engine started missing. I determined that the #1 (rearmost cylinder) exhaust valve was burned. Subsequently, I removed the cylinder head, and had it completely rebuilt with bronze phosphorous guides, new exhaust valves, etc. At that time, I had the engine compartment repainted. I also removed the fender inner panels and every black component in the engine compartment, and had them powder coated.
In 1997, I replaced the convertible top, and did a thorough restoration of that area, bead blasting the top frame and repainting it, replacing all the wood bows from oem materials, rechroming all the bright parts associated with the top. I also located a nice reproduction rear window w/chrome frame for the top. The headliner and pad were new at that time as well.
Most recently, I had made an oem mohair convertible top envelope (to cover and secure the top when it’s in the down (or open) position. This was purchased through SNG Barratt in Manchester, NH. I also bought the lead-filled brass rails for the convertible top pinbeading, shaped and cut them to the correct proportions, had them chrome plated, and brazed in new nails and screws. The envelope holds in 80 mph high wind conditions.
I completely rebuilt the engine in 2006, sparing no expense (see below). The #1 (rearmost) cylinder was missing again. This time, it was the piston, which had developed some fatigue.
In late 2007, I had extensive bodywork completed (the car has never been in a collision, and the panels were largely in fine shape, but there was deterioration in the trunk area that needed attention, and I decided to have the work done properly. Following this, the car under a complete repaint by Andrew Schank in Richmond, CA, using Spies Hecker
Since August 1988, I have lived in other parts of the country, while the Jaguar has remained in the San Francisco Bay Area, always stored in clean, dry garages. For 6 years, I drove it with abandon when I returned to the Bay Area. Beginning in 1994, I’ve incrementally restored the car to its original condition, with some improvements along the way. Though I have the original Lucas starter, which goes with the car, after the 2006 engine rebuild, I installed a Denso reduction gear starter. What a difference.
The polarity of the electrics on the car were changed from positive to negative ground, perhaps as far back as the 1960’s. The electrics on this car have been extremely reliable. I had the generator rebuilt in the mid-1980’s by Albany Generator in Albany, CA. I also replaced the temp/oil pressure gauge then, and had the speedo and tachs rebuilt by Speedo-Tach in Oakland. At some point before I purchased the vehicle, the original 9 post Lucas regulator was replaced by the 5 post Lucas unit in the car now. I have an NOS Lucas 9 post regulator (which goes with the car) that I contemplated installing, but did not, because the 5 post unit was worked well without issue. I also have an additional NOS 5 post regulator, which also goes with the car. Regarding wiring, I’ve rewired numerous XK Jaguars. In fact, I partly financed part of my graduate school costs by doing complete rewiring jobs for customers. With this car, there was simply no point, unless one insists on having harnesses with fresh braiding, and the color schemes to match. I have replaced the bullet connectors were needed, including the 2 big ones (5 plug and 10 plug) in front of the radiator. Otherwise, the wiring is excellent on the car. Every appliance works as it should.
Many years ago, I installed a Hayden 10 inch ‘push’ fan that mounts to the front of the original Marsten radiator. This non-factory addition makes the car much more driveable in hot weather and in traffic. An all-aluminum Ron Davis radiator may keep the engine cool enough in traffic to obviate the need for an auxiliary fan, but I’m not sure. There is a toggle switch under the dash, just to the left of the steering column, which activates the fan. Because you won’t hear the fan when the engine is running, the switch has a yellow diode that lights on when the fan is on.
Complete Rebuild in 2006. All machine work performed by Star Machine, Emeryville, CA.
Cylinder Head –
Machine work – light resurfacing (head has only been surfaced twice in its life, both times lightly). Cylinder heads water jackets aluminum welded (1994, by Dennis Etcheverry, Berkeley, CA). Valve seats reground. Exhuast valve seats removed, seat housing machine to accommodate larger, 1 5/8” exhaust valves (as used in C Type and B type head, as well as all E Type cylinder heads). Exhaust valve seats replaced with hardened seats to accommodate lead-free fuel and higher combustion chamber temperatures.
- new intake and exhaust valves
- all new inner and outer exhaust valve springs
- new E type exhaust valve spring seats
- bronze phosphorous valve guides and new intake valve seals
- new cam bearings
- all new cyl head-to-intake manifold studs
- intake manifold carburetor ports machined to 2” to accommodate larger 2” H8 or HD8 carburetors for future fitting
- all new gaskets
- aluminum cam covers, intake manifold, breather cover, and carburetor dashpots polished by Electro-Forming, Richmond, CA
- exhaust manifolds reporcelained, with new studs
Lower End –
Block boiled and cleaned. Top of block resurfaced for trueness. Main bearing journals cut and aligned bored for trueness. Connecting rods resized with new bushings. Crankshaft plugs removed, crank boiled, and new plugs installed. Crankshaft bored and polished to -.010” on both main and rod journals. Cylinders bored to -.030”, and main and rod journals bored to -.010”. Timing cover and oil sump (both original) milled to accept E Type neoprene front main seal, to replace original rope seals, and eliminate any oil leakage from front seal area.
- new AE +.030” 4-ring aluminum pistons and rings
- new Vandervell +010” rod and main bearings and thrust washers
- new upper and lower timing chains
- new lower chain tensioner blade and spring
- rebuilt crankshaft dampener (Damper Doctor, Redding, CA)
- new crankshaft pulley
- rebuilt water pump
- new connecting rod nuts and bolts
- new Dorman copper two-piece core plugs
- new upper and lower hoses
- all new gaskets
Other engine-related –
- installation of reduction gear starter for greater reliability (original Lucas starter is included)
- new clutch (pressure plate, disc, T/O bearing).
- new pilot bushing
- SU fuel pump replaced by solid state fuel pump for greater reliability
- Electrical system changed from positive to negative ground, sometime during the 1970’s.
- Hayden 10” electric ‘push’ fan installed in front of radiator to assist engine cooling during long idle periods in traffic
- All new engine, torque, and transmission mounts
- new Bell stainless steel exhaust system
Brakes and Chassis –
- all new brake linings. Front linings replaced with ‘friction materials semi-metallic linings. (As brake drums heat up, stopping power is unaffected. In fact, it improves.)
- new rear brake cylinders
front cylinders machined and brass sleeved (White Post Restorations, White Post, VA)
- new tandem brake master cylinder
- handbrake assembly disassembled, cleaned, rechromed (where necessary), reinstalled, and adjusted.
- Front anti-roll bar modified to offer greater stiffness; new bushings installed
- new Koni front shock absorbers
- rebuilt rear shock absorber links
- rebuilt rear (Armstrong) lever shocks (Apple Hydraulics, NY)
- new rear spring leather gaiters
Body and Interior
Note: So far as I am aware, based on visual inspection, information from the previous owner dating to 1976, and the extensive work I’ve done on the car, this vehicle has never been in a collision, nor has it experienced serious body damage. At various times, small dings and slight dents accumulated. I had body and paintwork done in 1989 to repair a dent in the left rear fender area, caused by a failed parking brake of a parked Fiat 124 in an adjacent driveway of the previous owner.
Convertible Top (1997)
- new convertible top (new black Robbins Sunfast)
- new grey wool broadcloth headliner, and new pad
- all new wooden top bows, including mahogany head bows
- top frame removed, bead blasted, and painted
- top accessories components (latches, etc.) chrome plated where appropriate
- new (from Bill Tracy) ‘racetrack’ solid chrome and glass rear window
- rear package shelf area behind seats sanded, prepped, and painted
Body (Larry Nelson)/Paint (Andy Schank) (2007)
- extensive bodywork done, especially in the rear trunk area, where the old spare tire tray was cut out, and a new one installed; rear fenders were removed, and extensive work performed to clean out light corrosion in inner fenders behind door shutfaces, and new fender securing studs behind shutfaces were installed.
- drip rails and plates on both sides (outside) of the windshield metal were replaced with new, and associated grinding and sanding to remove any corrosion.
- entire car sanded and prepped
- convertible top was removed and entire car painted with 2 stage Spies-Hecker Wimbledon White paint. (base and clearcoat)
- brand new windscreen glass, new OEM windshield rubber gasket, and rechromed brass windscreen frame.
- most, but not all, bright metal has been rechromed
- new red leather (per Connolly specs) seat covers and console cover, with new red mocquette and new seat cushion foam and console base
- new red Wilton wool carpets
- new high grade red vinyl trim pieces all around, including battery box cover and trunk area
- new red hardura trunk mat
- new door panels with red vinyl covering, professionally trimmed
- all interior upholstery pieces purchased from SNG Barratt, Manchester, NH.
- Side dash pieces replaced with new (Baltic birch plywood, and burled walnut veneer, finished in polished urethane).
- center (instrument cluster) dash piece is original, but refinished.
- new dash drawer
- convertible top side burled walnut wood pieces refinished.
- new windshield washer assembly (squirters, all hosing, bottle and vacuum pump assembly, and dash switch).
- new reproduction, optional 16” steering wheel (standard equipment wheel is 17”)
- new horn button and chrome base
Convertible Top Envelope (2011)
- new chromed brass pinbeading, supplied by Bassett’s Jaguar, Wyoming, RI.
- new mohair convertible top hood/envelope purchased from SNG Barratt.
- installation of pinbeading and hood/envelope completed by Sid’s Auto Upholstery, Mountain View, CA
Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA