One-off Pininfarina XK120 makes British debut

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If you were at Pebble Beach a few months ago, you likely were impressed by a 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE that had been rebodied with coachwork designed by Pininfarina.

Now these several months later, the car makes its British debut, displayed this weekend at the London Classic Car Show. Showing the car is Classic Motor Cars, the English workshop that devoted 6,725 hours to its restoration. After Pebble Beach, where the car was awarded second in the Postwar Closed class, the car won Restoration of the Year honors at the Octane Awards.

One-off Pininfarina XK120 makes British debut | ClassicCars.com Journal
The Pininfarina-bodied Jaguar on the awards stand at Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen photos

The car was built by Pininfarina for an American client of Max Hoffman and made its debut at the 1955 Geneva Motor Show before being shipped to the United States. On behalf of his client, Hoffman had asked Pininfarina to reinterpret the XK design.

“The car’s life is a bit of a mystery as there is not much information about its whereabouts after it was last seen in 1955,” Nigel Woodward, managing director of Classic Motor Cars, said in a news release.

Woodward said his company purchased the car in 2015 from a German owner who had purchased it in the U.S. in 1978. He had planned to do a restoration, “but never got around to it,” Woodward said.

One-off Pininfarina XK120 makes British debut | ClassicCars.com Journal
Second in class honors

Woodward added that during the pre-restoration forensic inspection, it was discovered that the car had been built on an original XK chassis and that a previous owner had painted the car Burgundy, recovered the seats with tan leather and made other changes.

Several parts were missing but were re-created using vintage photography and modern scanning technology. A small section of the original paint was discovered when the windshield was removed and it was matched by the restoration company’s paint specialist.

Also discovered during the dismantling was a small piece of the original leather, which was Ochre tan.

One-off Pininfarina XK120 makes British debut | ClassicCars.com Journal
6,725 hours of restoration later

The Restoration of the Year award was the second for the workshop, which also won in 2011 for the Linder-Nocker Lightweight Jaguar that many had considered to be beyond repair.

Joining the Pininfarina Jaguar on the company’s stand at the show will be a 1958 Aston Martin DB Mk III that currently is undergoing restoration.

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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.

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