Monterey, California - These are the first pictures of the unique 1954 XK120 SE by Pininfarina after its full nut and bolt restoration by Classic Motor Cars.
It was revealed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance at the weekend, and was awarded second in class O-2 Postwar Closed (we’d love to see the car that was judged to be in better condition than this one!)
This XK120 was created by Pininfarina for Max Hoffman, an Austrian-born, New York-based importer of luxury European cars into the United States during the 1950s.
Pininfarina was so proud of this car - the only XK120 he was ever commissioned to build - that he exhibited it at the Geneva motor show in March 1955 and the Autocar show in April. He wanted to show it at the Turin biennial in 1956 (which would have been huge for him because his studio was based there) but Hoffman refused to wait any longer for his car and it was shipped to the United States in mid-1955.
After that its history gets a bit murky, including several changes of ownership and a respray from the original jade green to a deep burgundy, until it was bought by a German collector in 1978 with the intention of restoring it. When he saw just how ratty the car was, however, he lost heart, and the car was simply stored for the next 37 years, until he sold it to Peter Neumark of Classic Motor Cars.
CMC chairman David Barzily takes up the story:
“Some of the original parts were impossible to find so we had to make items such as the bumpers and chrome trim by hand from photographs. We had to scan the front and rear end of the car and make mock-ups of the lights, which were then scanned and 3D printed. Smaller missing parts were also 3D printed in-house.
“The rear window was missing so we also had to scan the window aperture and have a new rear screen made from the scan data.”
Pininfarina had cut up the original XK body as a basis, which made the restoration even more difficult, as did the fact that the car had been resprayed and retrimmed.
“There were no signs of the original paint colour and it all came down to the last nut and bolt. When we removed the windscreen, we found a small patch of original paint and used that to match the colour.”
He added: “The door trim panels and carpets were missing, so we had no way to match the original leather until we found a small piece of the original dark tan trim when we stripped the body.
"We used that to match the original leather type and colour for the upholstery and trim, and re-created the the shape and pattern of the door trim panels by looking at similar Pininfarina designs from the same period.”
The whole rebuild took 6725 hours to complete, starting with repairs and repainting of the original Jaguar chassis, and refurbishing the suspension.
The restoration of the body included making a complete new front end, new rear quarter panels, inner arch panels, boot floor, sills and door skins, entirely by hand, and respraying in the original jade green colour.
The front and rear bumpers, and 80 percent of the chrome trim, had to be made from scratch, as well as the rear screen and its surround. The interior was completely re-trimmed, and the engine and gearbox were rebuilt to original late-model XK120 3.4-litre SE specification with C-Type racing cylinder head and dual SU H6 carburettors, rated for 134kW at 5300rpm.
The cost? Impossible to calculate, but CMC has put in the equivalent of at least R10 million in labour alone, with the expectation of getting that back many times over when this unique car is finally sold.