Gallery: Prepping a 1954 Jaguar XK 120 for scrutiny in Pebble Seaside’s demanding Postwar Preservation class
Nonetheless, there was work to do in preparation for the concours, and it fell to Graham Lengthy, whose Clifton, New Jersey, store, Graham Engineering & Motorsport, focuses on fabrication, mechanical restorations and race automobile repairs. Lengthy dropped at the duty a eager eye and a sensitivity to finishes he had developed from publicity to his household’s involvement in vintage furnishings preservation.
Modifications made for reliability on the Mille Miglia—the electrical fan, for instance, needed to be reversed. A contemporary aluminum radiator put in for the rally was swapped for the unique brass one, cleaned internally and pressure-tested however not repainted and even cosmetically repaired. A tidy late-model loom for the spark plug wires was changed by an accurate interval piece, not as neat in routing however devoted to the 1954 spec. Reliable trendy hose clamps had been changed by Cheney reproductions, each pesky to put in and susceptible to failure—however they’ve the proper look, and that issues at a concours.
An alternator that was put in for dependable charging wanted to be modified again to a generator, proving a substantial problem involving countrywide eBay quests for a special water pump (from California) and crank pulley (Mississippi). Different modernized techniques, together with a stainless-steel exhaust system with fittings for oxygen sensors for tuning, stayed, together with an upgraded gas filter. Carburetor gaskets had been changed as wanted, heeding the British automobile knowledge, “If there are not any leaks, there’s no fluid inside.” On this case, although, the blame goes to ethanol blends. “We’ll run racing gas in it to any extent further,” stated Lengthy, explaining his plan for stopping a breakdown.
The XK 120 at Graham Engineering & Motorsport, the place the automobile was returned to its unique specification forward of Pebble Seaside.
Competing towards 9 different entries within the Postwar Preservation class (there have been eight automobiles within the Prewar class) meant leaving some issues alone. The physique tag on the firewall and a Made in England tag on the entrance body had been each put in barely crooked on the manufacturing unit greater than 60 years in the past—and they also stay immediately.
Via all of the preparations, the query of outline “preservation” always loomed. The category shouldn’t be a showcase for automobiles returned to factory-new look, neither is it strictly supposed solely for dirty barn finds. To some extent, this asks an proprietor to second-guess what a choose may be basing a choice on. Is a replica radiator hose permissible? Would an upgraded ignition coil be grounds for disqualification? There are few pointers, and Pebble Seaside doesn’t have formalized guidelines or definitions.
To Mitch McCullough, it’s a matter of equipping the automobile as it will have been in a interval when it was used as common transportation. “I need to expertise the automobile prefer it was in its period,” he stated. “That’s why we didn’t improve our XK 120 to a synchro five-speed or disc brakes.”
The week in Monterey went easily. The XK carried out completely on the 70-mile Tour d’Magnificence, operating cool and cheered by a crowd enthusiastic for a automobile that clearly had been pushed and appreciated. The 54-spoke wheels, fitted with Dunlop bias-ply tires, had been mounted when the tour was over.
Sunday morning of the concours started with a predawn drive onto the present area. And the outcome was nearly as good as any first-timer might hope for: second place within the class to a 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster from Switzerland and forward of a 1960 Abarth 1000 File Pininfarina Prototype from Italy.
To the McCulloughs, the superb exhibiting is a becoming credit score to Bernie Yurt’s half-century of look after the automobile. One of the best tribute, then, can be driving the automobile usually when it returns to the East Coast. Little doubt it’ll take pleasure in extra public shows—simply don’t search for it to be polished up excellent and positioned on a pedestal.
The Jag undergoes cautious scrutiny on the garden at Pebble Seaside — that is the place the entire McCulloughs’ exacting work paid off.