Update on 1952 XK-120 FHC 679924

After 5 1/2 years of effort, I fired up 679924 on Friday of this week. It is almost ready to drive out of my garage and is a ground up restoration. I really mean ground up as it sat outside for 50 years in a backyard in Worcester, MA before being dragged up onto a flatbed (without wheels) and listed on Ebay. My brother John and I bought it for parts. I looked it over and decided to restore it, not a fainthearted task as most of the car was missing or rotted away. It had no drivetrain whatsoever, the interior was mostly missing, and the front fenders were badly rotted away. However it had its original data plate, front windshields and trim, aluminum doors with windows, and a dented boot lid. The bonnet was amazingly unscathed and the chassis was good except for the two rear extensions that support the boot area.

I found an engine, transmission, driveshaft, and rear end and proceeded to rebuild all. I amazingly stumbled across a set of NOS front fenders, doors, and bootlid, and found a pair of excellent used rear fenders. I enlisted Wray Schelin (who’s shop is nearby and reputation for quality work is unmatched) to make up the rear boot and tonneau, rebuild the firewall, make new sills, floors, door hinges and support channels, shut face pillars, and many other rotted out sheet metal parts. Danny McGee of Side Alley Restorations took on the task of disassembly of what was left of the car and building up a basically new body on the original frame, which he sandblasted, repaired and painted. He did an absolutely amazing job. His attention to detail and workmanship and paint quality is as good as it gets.

I stumbled across a new crimson colored Bassett interior on Ebay that had been made for Bill Welch for another FHC that was eventually sold separately to the interior. I decided on silver for the paint color, which was matched from an original silver colored door I had obtained in a parts buy. The deep red interior goes beautifully with the silver exterior.

I have a few more things to do to finish the interior and need to tilt the dash up into place, it now is laying on a cardboard support platform over the tranny hump. The brakes are bled and are all set, and the car is registered and ready to go. I will report back on the first drive after that happens. It’s been an amazing ride already.

Tom Brady
Brockton, MA


Congratulations Tom, another one saved!


What color did you choose?

great story. can we see some photos please?

Peder and Phil,
The exterior is a very original looking fine metallic silver, matched to an original unmolested door I had. It is base coat clear coat Glasurit urethane paint. The interior is dark red. Rob Reilly posted original Ebay pictures and as delivered from my body shop pictures a couple years ago at http://www.xkdata.com/cars/detail/?car=679924

I will post some updated pix in the next few weeks as I get it on the road and finish the interior.

Tom Brady

We all can appreciate what it takes to restore a car like that. Great story, looking forward to more pics

Best shut lines I’ve ever seen (in photos).
This needs to the Greenwich concours at the end of May before you start doing bit tours. Consider some clear film protection for the front, at the speeds we go you are sure to get some stone chips.

It is An inspiration to the rest of us to get off our arses and restore our own cars.


We all read and write about every detail of our XK’s and try to help each other and answer every question, no matter how ridiculous the question may be. Some listers have been restoring their cars for 30 plus years and are yet to drive them. I thought it would be nice to actually comment on what it is like to drive one after a 5 1/2 year restoration process. This is my first XK driving experience, after driving the big Marks for 50 years.

I now have two driving seasons on my 52 FHC totaling 2200 miles, 1200 in 2019 and 1000 in 2020. It has fully taken those two seasons to sort out the car so that I have confidence in it, enough to take it on several hundred mile trips, which I plan to do in the next driving season.

Over the past two seasons:

  1. I worked on the suspension and front end (The car has the heavier SE torsion bars and SNG replacement springs) and set the ride height and alignment to the settings recommended by the shop manual. I am happy with those settings and the car steers straight and rides quietly over bumps without the suspension bottoming or topping out. I have Goodyear Eagle radial tires and standard (rebuilt) Newton shocks on the front, standard Girling levers on the rear. I have taken the car up to 85 mph, with extended periods of highway cruising at 70-75 mph and everything functions well. It drives effortlessly at 45 mph on back roads, which seems to be its sweet spot.
  2. I sorted out the carbs and distributor and had to replace the vacuum advance, which failed after 500 miles or so, and replaced the original W02 carb needles with SJ’s, which made the engine run beautifully. The engine has a B head, 9:1 compression, and custom profiled valve seats, dual exhaust as original. The engine has great power and torque and I plan to dyno it in the spring and will share the results.
  3. Getting used to the Moss transmission has been humbling. It takes a good while to discipline yourself to slow shifts and full stops to shift into first gear. Traffic situations are the most demanding, as modern cars chomp at the bit at every stop light while I slowly search for first gear. I have greatly improved but am still capable of a grind every once in a while, which comes with the territory. I imagine what it must have been like racing one of these cars.
  4. I started out with standard Mintex brake lining on all four wheels and tried my best to adjust them so they would not pull to one side. I also adjusted the rear brakes and measured wheel temperatures after each ride to compare. The brakes were always a problem and stopping was often a stressful OMG event. My brother had been through a similar experience in his 54 DHC, and had swapped linings to a semi metallic light colored material of unknown manufacture. They improved his braking to actually be pretty decent. I took his advice and swapped out my front linings and the difference is like night and day. I can now stop with confidence with no pulling to one side and can actually lock them up if needed. This was the most important improvement I made, and improved the drivability of the car, and my confidence in it.
  5. I have driven the car a few hundred miles in cold weather this winter, at around 30 deg. F. We have been lucky enough to have salt free streets up until yesterday. Rather than change the thermostat, which is a real PITA, I inserted a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator, covering about 2/3’s of it and the engine runs around 65-70 deg. C, and the heater puts out acceptable heat. This is where owning a coupe has its advantage, it’s quite comfortable in the cold, although I have yet to install the rubber seals at the vertical B post area where the door panel contacts it.

The overall experience of driving the car has been quite rewarding. I am not under the illusion that this is a fast car, as it once was, and my objective is to use it as much as possible and simply enjoy the experience. I just wanted to share my experience with others who are restoring these great cars and encourage others who have recently completed their restorations to share their driving experiences.

Tom Brady


What a story!! Congratulations! I have seceral XKs and actually prefer them to the E-types, which I also have. Regarding winter driving, I was out in the blue 120 FHC 2 days ago, on dry roads and 0 degC. Today we have a white landscape in Sweden, so no more driving for a while. But yesterday I finally got around to curing the cold draught from the B-posts. I added a few inches od rubber seal to cover what was actually open ares. From tye inside I could see the outside through the open area on the top section of the B-pillar.
I have yet to testdrive, but believe my solution to workimage image image image image image image

But what renains to do is the bottom of the doors, and the lower section of the A-pillars. I cannfeel the cold if I put my hand betwern tge seat and the door, and at rhe front of the door.
But the worst wasby ny left shoulder, coming from the open space that I sealed yesterday

Tom B;
As you may well know, I have had the luxury of owning an XK120DHC since April 1967… It was my Daily Driver until 1975. (initially to/from college & work, later to tow my motorcycles to races then just to “banzi” across Texas doing my best to cover as much west Texas and central-south Texas while AVERAGING 100 miles per hour… I would NEVER say that our XK’s are NOT “Fast”!! There may be modern FI/whiz-bang cars on the road capable of speeds approaching 200 miles per hour, BUT how many can sustain THAT level speed for several hours?? Let me reword that question… How Many of THOSE “modern” cars will be able to maintain their (near) 200MPH speeds AFTER they have been "daily drivers/commuters/grocery-getters and fairly poorly maintained after fifteen-odd years of use??
I believe it speaks volumes that so few XK’s were originally built and yet, percentage wise, so many are believed to STILL be in existence, and still in “regular” use!!
When I bought my 120DHC, I knew NOTHING about an XK Jaguar, knew even less about the JL/Moss Gearbox but for some inexplicable reason, I knew exactly how to “correctly” drive the car and, more specifically, properly “Shift the Gears” in this beautiful Jaguar!! (I guess being a young-dumb twenty y/o had it’s advantages!!)
So, from my past tense perspective, welcome to the wonderful world of driving a Jaguar XK120… In my opinion, there is nothing like it (or better) in the world!! (well, being on a circa 1970 AMA Pro GP Roadracer, at speeds in excess of 165mph is “up there”!!).
My best advise to you, as regards your XK120, Drive The Hell Outta It!! It is very enjoyable!!
Charles. Ch #677556.