Xk120 hi-torque starter

Would like to buy a hi-torque starter that engages that starter ring completely. Purchased a low dollar starter but it engages the starter ring about half the way.

I often suspect poor engineering in these aftermarket conversions.
What is wrong with your original starter?

Nothing wrong with old starter, and I’ll probable be putting it back on, I’m in my early 80’s , and it’s heavy. I purchased this 120 FHC when I was 23.

Cattales - I put a gear reduction starter in my roadster almost 9 and a half years ago. I just checked my log file from 3-20-2010, and it reads:
"March 20th, -2010 – Gear reduction starter; Mileage: 14,540. I decided, after reading a few articles on the long term benefits of gear reduction starters, to install one. The manufacturer is Nippondeso, and I bought it off of Ebay from Dr. Martin Ferrillo. At the time, it was less than $100, but not everyone from Xk’s Unlimited to Bill Bassetts has them. It is much lighter, and when it engages, there is no jarring clunk from the starter drive slamming into the flywheel, the way the OEM did. The mileage on the car is 14,540. We’ll see how it turns out.

That was nearly 11 years ago, and several thousand miles ago. I drive my roadster a LOT. There has never been an issue, and never had a need to remove it. The battery can be very low, and the start spins quickly. I just installed a 123Ignition distributor, and the car starts, from dead cold, before 1 full revolution of the engine. I would not have anything else, and it is one of the smartest upgrades you can make. It is also less abusive to your flywheel since it engages more smoothly. There is one other benefit for some folks who might have worn flywheel teeth,… the gear reduction starter engages from the opposite direction than the OEM starter ! So, if anyone has a dead spot on their flywheel and isn’t up for pulling the engine to change a flywheel, the bad area on the flywheel won’t affect the gear reduction starter.
I hope this is helpful. Cheers, Knight

Agree with the ‘save the ring gear part’.

I replaced mine on 3 October, 2009 as well. In my case, the flywheel ring gear had been buggered up by the original Lucas crash starter pinion teeth flying into the ring gear and milling off a bit every time it engaged. I had it lock up on me twice, requiring me to use a large wrench on the crankshaft damper nut to back it off. The first time it happened in my garage and was inconsequential. The second time it happened on the return journey from the British Invasion from Vermont (I live in Massachusetts). I had dressed the ring gear and starter pinion teeth, but I was doomed to have it happen again, and it did. But I was prepared, I had a large wrench to turn it in the boot.

So I am an early proponent of the starter replacement with the modern gear reduction starter.

I posted about this at the time.

During the past 11 years the starter has never failed to engage.

Looking at my records, I bought the starter from SNG Barratt at a cost of $179.

Worthy of note is that this is an 11 tooth starter pinion. I have seen a 10 tooth version on eBay recently and I would say it is not as good. The original Lucas starter pinion is 10T as well. But the 11T is an improvement because it is 10% faster than the original. I believe the double reduction motor is also faster but have never actually researched or checked that but the combination of that plus the 11T pinion spins the motor much faster and consequently the car starts very quickly. So what if it sounds like a Toyota.

The other really good thing is that the starter engages on the motor side of the ring gear rather than the clutch side. So, the teeth on this side are fresh and un-buggered.

Modern starters like this have large lead-ins on the pinion teeth, and do not start rotating until they have fully engaged at the end of their travel. This is the most comforting part of the replacement. No further damage to the flywheel and no worries for the future.

So, Cattales, let us know if you have the 10T variety. Perhaps this is part of the problem.

These starters are available from gustafstonspecialty.com who I think were the original suppliers and may be the suppliers to the “usuals”.

They offer instructions on how to add a jumper wire to bypass the built in solenoid on the starter to use the original Lucas solenoid located on the firewall. I recommend this so the car can be started by manually pushing the solenoid on the firewall in addition to using the starter button on the dash. This comes in handy while working on the engine for checking/setting timing, etc.

John Brady

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The website for the starters shown above is incorrect. It should be gustafsonmachine.com


The starter I removed was a made by Nippordeso . it has the 10 tooth vision. It engages half the way into the ring gear, and also the depth of engagement is only half way. So if you have the above starter you better check that gear. I have a replacement starter from Moss with the correct 11 tooth drive gear. Thanks for the information John it is very helpful.

Care must be taken.

I once built a '34 hot rod with a 350 SBC engine. I picked up a gear reduction starter at NAPA and it did not fully extent into the ring gear, no shims to remove, it simply didn’t extend far enough. That would have made for a lot of wear on half the gear and the likelihood of it sliding off.

I had to order a Bowtie branded starter and sure enough it did extend and fully engage the ring.

These starters are not all the same.


The starter that I bought from SNG is also a Nippondenso. They probably make the majority of the starters for all the cars now including American cars. Excellent quality.

The problem is with the companies that are reconditioning them to fit our classic cars.

Take a look at this website gustafsonmachine.com and they make mention of their competition selling on eBay (which I have noticed) and the inherent problems with their products.

The Gustafson units are well engineered and work reliably as I described above. They are sold by many of the “usuals”.

John Brady

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