6,725 hours later, Pininfarina’s Jaguar is reborn

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Pininfarina-bodied 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE rolls off the awards stand at Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen photos

What may be the rarest Jaguar on the planet recently rolled from its restoration to the awards presentation area at the 67th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The car was the 1954 XK120 SE by Pininfarina, a one-off version of a classic British car by a famed Italian design studio, first shown at the 1955 Geneva and Torino motor shows before being sent to Max Hoffman in New York and then on to its owner.

Hoffman worked with Batista “Pinin” Farina on the design of the XK120 SE.

The Jaguar on the Pebble Beach show field

Although the early history of the car after Hoffman delivered it to its initial owner may be lost, the car was in Germany from 1979 to 2015, when it was acquired by employee-owned Classic Motor Cars of Bridnorth, England, which undertook the car’s restoration.

“There is little trace of the car’s history, but we are certain that Hoffman was the supplying dealer, then first owner of the car and that there was only one XK120 by Pininfarina produced, which makes this one of the rarest Jaguars in existence,” David Barzilay, chairman of the Classic Motors Cars operating board, said in a news release.

The Classic Motor Cars team put 6,725 man hours into the car’s restoration.

“Some of the original parts were impossible to find so we had to remake items such as the bumpers and chrome work by hand from photographs,” Barzilay said. “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.”

There also was the challenge of determining and reproducing the car’s original paint color.

“During the pre-restoration inspection, it was found that Pininfarina had used the original XK body as a basis, and that, at some point in its life, the car was painted Burgundy and had the seats covered with tan leather,” the Classic Motor Cars’ news release noted.

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“There were no signs of the original paint color and it all came down to the last nut and bolt,” Barzilay said. “When the front screen was removed, we discovered a small section of original paint and used it as a color match.

“The interior trim door cards were missing, along with the carpets and the original color of the trim, but we discovered a small sample of original Ochre tan leather when we stripped the car down. This was color matched and the original type and color leather was used to recreate the interior.

“The shape and pattern of the door cards was created by looking at similar Pininfarina designed cars from the period.”

Second in class award presented

During its work, the team did a full-body restoration including new front end, rear quarter panels, inner arch panels, boot floor, sills and door skins; full chassis repair and repaint; remade front and rear bumpers, remade 80 percent of the original chrome work; remade rear screen and surround; full interior re-trim; full engine and gearbox rebuilt; and refurbished suspension components to return the car to original Jaguar equipment specification.

“The car was admired all day and we are delighted to be bringing a trophy home as a further testimony to the skills, dedication and attention to detail that we have in our business,” said Neumark. “A great result!”

The car was awarded second place in the Postwar Closed class at Pebble Beach, where the class winner was another one-off vehicle, the 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS Boano Coupe Speciale owned by Tony Shooshani of Long Beach, California.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. And after all that work, its looks don’t hold a candle to the original 120 (I suppose a FHC) design. It is, of course, unique, but quite ugly imho, so in the end, who cares?

    • I agree! Really a waste of time and effort when you compare it side by side to some of the worlds most beautiful cars which in themselves are works of art. Regarding your reference to the XK120, I too agree the original iteration is a far more classic and beautiful car. The proof is the fact people fell over themselves to buy an XK rather than try and order the SE, irrespective of the cost of what we see above. Besides the XK was a genuine bargain in its era. I would loved to have seen a photo of the Alfa that ousted the Jag!

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