Red paint on suspension and steering components

Question for the originality experts. I am well aware of the many discussions about red paint/wash on many of the bolts, though I’m not sure there has been a conclusion regarding how and why the red was applied. My question, though, is directed at what appears to be similar red coloring on many of the steering and suspension components. On my early OTS (6708XX) there is very obvious red paint that appears to be quite original on the upper A-arms and bolts, steering idler arm and less obvious traces on some other parts. What I don’t know is whether this red paint is a primer that has been exposed by degradation of the finish coat, or if it was visible from the factory. Does anyone have any insight?



My opinion is that a lot of these forgings and castings were dipped in red primer to prevent surface rust before they were machined. After they were machined and assembled they got a coat of REALLY cheap black paint For this reason you see the red primer with no black paint on the interior of the casting (rear axle center section) Some suspension bolts also clearly received red primer, but I believe after assembly everything got a coat of the same cheap black paint, and that paint weathered away over the years, leaving the red primer exposed. I think when it left the factory, everything was the same cheap chassis black.

You’re right, nobody has mentioned it before on large components such as those, just bolts and nuts.
Those components were normally black without any primer.
But we’ve seen many examples of things repainted red by owners for no apparent reason other than it looks cool.
If it was factory work, it may be as with the nuts and bolts, to identify ANF threads, but I think we would have seen more examples before now.

My track rod ends had a dab of yellow paint on them, but just a dab. I figured it was to indicate to the line inspector that the steering alignment had been done.

BTW I’ve noticed before and am curious to know why some people are reluctant to reveal their chassis number?

I can’t speak for others, but for myself, I don’t really have a good reason. It is just a habit on mine to protect unique identifying numbers on a public forum.

I have noticed that it is a common, almost ubiquitous practice to blur license tag numbers on publicly posted pictures - even though those numbers are clearly visible to anyone when driving the car. I can’t say it makes sense, but nearly everyone does it. I suppose it is to protect some semblance of privacy.

It is possible that a previous owner painted some of those parts red, but the red coat is clearly the first coat on bare metal. That would mean that someone would have had to remove those specific parts (and not others), strip them, and then paint them red. Other nearby components still have remnants of the factory chassis paint (complete with brush strokes) over bare metal, so it does not appear that there was wholesale removal and refinishing of parts. To me, the parts look to be unmolested by anything but time.


Identity theft, in this case the legal identity of the vehicle.

Mine’s S674432.

Is it Red or Orange ,I am just getting a back axle ready to fit to my MK2 , Cast parts , ie Hubs and Axle case have Red oxide on them look’s factory , but more Orange then Red !

Tim, your XK120 looks early enough to have the ENV axle. I don’t suppose you made a note of the serial numbers on the diff, did you? Apologies if you’ve already sent them to me.


It looks just like your picture.


Hi Chris. Definitely the ENV axle. I’ll get the serial number for you this evening.


That’s great, Tim - thanks. There is a number, a JHS number, and the ratio (most probably 14 51 (3.64:1).
Build date would be very useful, too, if you know it.

He Chris:

Here is the nameplate. Looks like JHS 956 and 14 51: Build date is September 27, 1950.


And some of the red paint:

Heh. I just noticed that I’m missing a nut of the diff 3rd member housing. Makes me wonder what I’ll find inside…


That’s brilliant - thanks, Tim! It fits the pattern pretty well, and is pretty close to my car which is early Dec 1950. Mine is 3462, JHS 988, 14 51, so slightly surprising your number is a bit higher, though the JHS number fits. Looks like the JHS number is a more reliable indicator of build date. Still working to try and establish a pattern…