Late XK 120 Rear Number Plate Panel

My April 1954 built XK 120 OTS has a somewhat different Rear Number Plate Panel (I assume Jaguar part number BD.5645 as the car came from the USA).
The top of this panel has a curvature that perfectly aligns with the one of the Boot Lid. The right- and left-hand sides of the panel follow the boot lid curve but at the underside there is a different line that creates a gap from zero to 5/16" (8 mm). See photo.

This means that it is impossible to hold the 60" long black Piping C.2944 in place at the bottom of the Panel. I initially assumed that some PO had changed (cut) the bottom of the Panel for whatever reason.

The XK 140 has a similar Rear Number Plate Panel BD.9932 (although the position is different and there’s no bracket for the Number Plate & Reverse lamp). This XK 140 Panel has an open “bottom” and the Piping (Seal) BD.9932 stops just before the RH and LH bottom corner (total Piping length only 33").

I heard about corrosion problems with the XK 120 Panel (water entering from the top) and the recommendation to leave an open section in the Piping as a drain hole. This subject has also been dealt with on this Forum. That’s probably also the reason why the XK 140 had an open section at the bottom.

Before I start modifying the lower part of my Number Plate Panel, could it be that the late XK 120 Number Plate Panels had a gap, just like the XK 140 would receive just a few months later?

Bob K.


What is the measurement of your panel at the thinnest point just above the boot handle? My July, 1953 DHC looks very similar and it measures approximately a 1/2" at that point from the bottom edge to the flat plane of the panel itself. As I recall when I had mine off it will pull in somewhat when the lower mounting bolts are tightened.



It’s even less than half an inch: about 3/8" in my case. See the photo below. Don’t mind the (non-original) studs I used: it’s much easier to install this Plate with studs

I also found the pic below on this Forum of the same Number Plate Panel (I guess Rob Reilly took this one and it could be a 1951 Panel). The welding of the brackets and the spot-welds of the Lamp Bracket seems identical to the ones on my Panel, so it might be original. The bottom curve of the red version is much flatter than mine.

Hope there are others with more information.

Bob K.

Bob, the 140 panel is completely open at the bottom because it is a very different panel. It does not fit to the bootlid, it fits to the rear valance which curves down to form the boot floor. The 120 does not have this panel as the bootlid is much longer. The 140 number plate panel hangs about 1" below the valance panel so is completely open to the elements along its bottom edge, so the piping stops at the side of the panel an inch or two above the bottom edge.

Yep, that red one’s mine.

We discussed this panel in 2014.

We came to the tentative conclusion that the hole spacing for attaching the panel to the boot lid was changed, brought closer together, possibly to help bring down the panel better on the boot lid, or bring the boot lid up tighter against the panel.

So I would say put yours on and see how it pulls down.

We also noted that there were panels for USA style license plates, and panels for Euro style reg plates. But the plates were not all that well standardized among the state authorities.

Mine came to me with black rubber extrusion piping. We’ve gone round and round on that over the years, some saying it should be rexine covered cloth painted body color. I decided to go with rexine, and I found I had to glue the stuff to the inside of the license panel with a lot of spring clamps.

This just means that the number plate panel was not matched to the bootlid prior to painting.
the only difference with these apart from the alloy car one is the spacing for the number plate screws some American cars had them closer together
Both the grey and red ones pictured someone has welded the mounting tags to the cover these were not welded originally

That’s right - the four ends of the mounting strips should be free to follow the fit to the bootlid.

I had the original US rear plate panel for my 140, which I had assumed was the same as the UK type, so had it painted with the other loose panels. It turned out to be very different and not easy to convert, as the four captive nuts, slots and cages all needed to be removed and holes filled. As this would have destroyed the new paint I opted to buy a new UK-market panel instead and paint that.

I’d be a bit careful about ‘pulling down’ a heavily-shaped steel numberplate panel on to an aluminium bootlid panel. Only one of those two is going to adapt to the other, and it’s not going to be the numberplate panel…

Thanks all for your reactions.
Based on your input, the only conclusion can be that someone in the past “modified” the bottom curve of this Number Plate Panel.
It is absolutely impossible to further tighten the bolts as one already started to damage the hole in the Boot Lid. Apparently there are more cars of which the bottom curve doesn’t completely follow the Boot Lid (and the Piping is sagging or has to be glued to keep it in place) but none of you reported a 3/8" gap that mine has.
So I’ll have to modify the lower section of this Plate and repaint it.

Bob K.

if you put a straight edge on the painted face is it totally flat?
has the boot lid been reskinned?


The boot lid has not been re-skinned but some work was required around the lock area, where a new piece of aluminium was welded in. There is a nice even curve over that Boot Lid section (without lots of filler!) so it’s far from straight as you were afraid of… See pics.

So I guess a previous owner had “modified” the lower edge of the Number Plate Panel for whatever reason and my bodyshop has forgotten to take over the curve of the Boot Lid on that bottom section of the Panel. The upper section of the Number Plate panel fits fine. See photo.

Bob K.

Bob, my original license plate plinth (December 1953 production XK120) was like yours with an uneven gap from the bootlid ranging from zero (ie touching at the corners) to 5/16”. And, like yours, the narrowest area just over the boot handle was less than 1/2”. Before painting it I did several dry fits while gradually filing down the areas where it was too close or touching the bootlid to create a 1/8” gap, adjusting the depth of the two mounting straps as I went along. At the end of the process there was only a short span where the gap was a tad wide so I tigged in a small piece of filler rod to the edge and filed it down to achieve an even 1/8” gap all around. In your case you don’t have the option of adding to the edge but you may not need to once you’ve filed down the areas with zero and minimal clearance.


So there is a certain “variation” of the lower gap, reported by several owners. They can of course be “man made” (means previous owner) or there’s a certain spread in production: don’t know whether Jaguar would have adapted every Panel car by car or that production tolerances were so tight that any Number Plate Panel would always fit any Boot Lid.
Terry McG made a remark that the inner brackets were originally not welded to the upper and lower side of the Panel. I will first check whether I can find more space if I undo the welding, at least at the bottom side. I have the impression that the RH bracket is welded closer to the outer rim than the LH. Worth a try…

Just finished the “lowering” of the body on the chassis, following your video of some years ago as much as I could. I know this is the wrong place for comments and probably a new subject, but just wanted to say that everything went well. I only would like to add to your instructions that the Fuel Filler Hose should be fitted first at the top end with the Hose Clip as later access will be much more difficult. The connection at the Tank side is easier to get to.

Bob K.

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I disagree with this statement. We are talking about the steel body cars.
There is no doubt in my mind these are factory welds.

Perhaps you were thinking of the alloy cars, which had visible through bolts.

The red one in the photo looks like my 140 panel. The captive nut strip is spot welded to the centre of the panel, but the ends are left free, presumably so they can adapt a little to the face of the lower steel lower valance they are bolted to. I don’t recognize the black one - but I don’t have a 120…

seeing you note and looking at photo more carefully it is very interesting to note the 2 different methods of manufacture.
I have seen 15 plus of these from steel bodied XK120’s and they are always like red one with a strap spot welded to inside of number plate and a captive nut in the end piece and definitely not welded to the actual number plate plinth. The black one is interesting in the I hadn’t notice that the tabs are welded to plinth and there is no strap across inside of plinth - never seen one like this before. Will photograph my loose ones tomorrow.
Interestingly due to weight on boot lid all the cars we have restored I have manufactured this piece in aluminum much lighter

Different manufacturing methods. I guess we shouldn’t be a bit surprised.
These discoveries never end. :microscope:

I believe the black one is a BD.4256 and the red one is a BD.5645
I note on the black BD.4256 the tabs are only welded at the lip, not in the central area, so there is a little bit of springyness to them.


See the attached pic of an old XK 140 Rear Number Plate panel I still have (partially used for the brackets). The photo is taken from above showing the inside (less brackets). I just wanted to show that the bottom line of the 140 Panel is straight as it’s “free hanging” on the XK 140 rear and it doesn’t have to hold the Piping at the bottom section. Note the original Pastel Green paint on the backside.

The overall construction is similar but I remember that the main brackets were not welded, which (I think) made the whole construction (too) flexible and you could tighten the bolts for ever…until the bracket touched the lower Boot panel section.

Rob & Terry,
I remember that you (Rob) were investigating the difference in the bolt distance 15" versus 12.5 “. You concluded that the early Panels had the 15” and the later ones (including yours and mine) were 12.5" bolt distance. So Terry, you may have seen one of these early ones (15" distance) if you were lucky enough to have owned or restored one of the Alloy RHD’s (57 made) or Alloy LHD’s (only 183 made).

Bob K.

I have an extra original XK120 (steel) number plate panel that I purchased to eventually restore. It’s of the same design that Terry describes. The mounting tabs are not welded to the edges of the panel. There’s at least 1/8 inch gap between the ends of the mounting tabs and the edges.

These panels would collect moisture inside and especially along the bottom edge. That is where my spare panel is rusted. I’m wondering if Bob’s panel had rusted along the bottom edge and then a previous owner ground away the rust inadvertently changing the close-fitting contour.

It should be noted that the alloy cars had two other panels, not under discussion with the four panels for the steel cars.

Note also the FS.504/20H set screws holding it on. Those are 1/4-BSF x 2-1/2" long countersunk (aka flathead).

It would be good to get photos of all six varieties of the panels.

As now we have discovered that we are investigating different manufacturing details even among the six.

In my case I was investigating the fact that my car has two sets of mounting holes, and I have come to the tentative conclusion that my car left the factory bound for France with the BD.4257 Euro size for early steel cars, and was converted when it came to the USA to a BD.5645 US size for later steel cars.

Excellent idea to make that survey and it would also prevent me from making mistakes!
Still I don’t understand why those earlier Panels (BD.4256&7) would have the 15" distance between the setscrews. The same for the “Euro size” Plates as there wasn’t any commonality in Europe in those days. At best it could be that those Panels were made for the UK registration plates of which I believe were a bit bigger than the ones from e.g. Germany, France and the Netherlands. Belgium had even smaller plates as did some Scandinavian countries.
One of my problems is how to fit my new number plates using the positions of the 4 setscrews and cage nuts: these number plates are roughly 4 inches high whereas the cage nuts are located at 4¾ ".
Don’t know whether the older (black?) UK plates were higher and would fit.
So more information required.

Bob K.