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View Full Version : Finding the Holy Grail: The car nut's equivalent



Steve
01-20-2002, 01:16 AM
Thank you to aeronca65t for reminding me about barn finds (and pictures thereof). This story is true. You may believe it or not, but it really happened to me, in my own sub-division, a suburb outside of Milwaukee. Names and exact places have been omitted. Links to photos are below. Thanks Basil.
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk001.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk002.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk003.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk004.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk005.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk006.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk007.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk008.JPG
Once upon a time.........actually, about ten years ago now, I was collecting my older son from his friend's house, about a third of a mile from my own in New Berlin, WI. The house was, and still is, rather run-down and poorly maintained, being occupied at the time by the boy's divorced mother.

The garage is situated at the end of a dirt driveway at the front of the house, with the house being set back behind and above the garage.
Two old-fashioned doors are set with a number of small windows, one of which was broken, and the opaque plastic that was taped up to cover it had come away.

Having parked the car, I had to walk across the front of the garage to access the entrance to the house.

I do not know of a single car guy who will walk past a garage without looking in. Not that I would open the doors, or clean a window so that I could see in, but if there is a missing window, and one is walking past it, I would defy anyone to resist a quick peek.

What I saw made me stop in my tracks, and go back for a proper look. There was a steering wheel. It sat in the cockpit of what was obviously an open sportscar, but quite what, was not really apparent until my eyes adjusted to the gloom inside the garage.

The wheel was large, white, with four spokes and a Jaguar's head on the boss. The car itself was white, or used to be, and from the shape of the car, buried under old sheets and debris, it had to be an XK series.

I went to the house, collected my son, and mentioned, as casually as I could, that I had noticed the car in the garage, and was it a Jaguar? Yes, came the reply, it was, and would I like to take a look at it? Is the Pope catholic?
As my son would now say..."Duh!"

She opened the doors to the garage, which had obviously not been opened for some time, and there, under sheets and clutter, sat the car. I knew enough to recognise that this was an XK120. As you can understand, a little surge of adrenaline kicked in. I asked if I could pull the things off the car, which was okay, and began to "take a look". No rust, anywhere, on the body. The spats off the car, leaning against the far wall. Rust on plenty of other things in that garage, but not on the car itself. I'm sure that you are thinking the same thing that I was, so I opened the bonnet and memorised the chassis number. 670010. Easy. That's how I was able to remember it.

I asked who's car this was, and was told that the car belonged to her ex-husband, who had nowhere else to store it. The car had been left to him by his father, who was the original owner, and the car had been trailered to Wisconsin from New Jersey. The New Jersey plates were still there. The car, a non-runner when the old man had died, was then partially stripped, at which point the son had lost interest, and left things where they were. Then came the divorce, etcetera.

I asked if he might want to sell it, in the hope that he didn't know what he had, but she said that he knew it was special, but that he might want sell it.

I went home and dug out my books. Sure enough, the chassis number corresponded with an alloy-bodied 1949 Jaguar XK120 OTS. I can still remember the thrill of excitement. Here was something that I had only dreamed about, and it had happened, but it was obvious that I was getting out of my league, and if this car were to be saved, I would need to give the chance of ownership to somebody who could do it justice.

My first phone call, to the leading lights in the local Jaguar club, revealed that they were on vacation, and would be in europe for a while yet. My second call hit the target. A gentleman that I had known for a couple of years, who already had an extensive collection of British cars, and who, I knew, was looking for another car. Was he interested? That weekend he came down, not being able to leave any earlier due to business appointments, and he was as excited by the car as I was. Having put the two parties together, I stepped back and let them get on with it.

Suffice to say, that the enthusiast finally bought the car, not for a song, but it was obvious that the owner had not known just how special that car really was.

The XK120 has now been totally restored, no expense spared, although I haven't seen it since. I fully intend doing so, and I shall take copious amounts of photographs! Now if only I can find the "before" photos!

As a postscript, the previous owner bought himself a late-model Corvette with the money from the Jaguar. He drove it for a couple of years, until it needed some brake work. He parked that Vette in the same garage, and it hasn't moved since. He prefers to drive his pickup. Some people do not deserve such cars, and certainly not the fortune which allows them to possess such cars!!!!

[ 01-19-2002: Message edited by: Steve ]

[ 01-19-2002: Message edited by: Steve ]

[ 08-12-2002: Message edited by: Steve ]

[ 08-29-2002: Message edited by: Steve ]</p>

Steve
01-20-2002, 01:27 AM
Further to the above post, I am considering sending a draft of it to Gary at British Car magazine to see if it is suitable for publication. I would therefore welcome comments and constructive criticism, and any suggestions to make it more interesting.

Thanks guys!

Steve

[ 01-19-2002: Message edited by: Steve ]</p>

aeronca65t
01-20-2002, 09:39 AM
Steve:

What you have to explain to the rest of us is why *you* didn't buy that car?....
....maybe it was the same reason I didn't buy that MG-J2 for $500 (in '67),... or the running 3.8 E-Type (in '69) for $800,...or why we *all* didn't buy real Cobras back when they were only $5000.....never mind, I get it! Cool story!

Steve
01-20-2002, 10:21 AM
The reason I couldn't buy it was money, or the lack thereof! It went for $17K, and cost over one hundred big ones to restore. More than we'd paid for the house! As I said, I was in way over my head, my only concern then was to make sure that it was saved (that moron would have neglected it forever, or scrapped it) and that it went to a good home, to someone who would appreciate it for what it is. I called the right guy.

Steve
01-20-2002, 05:00 PM
Agreed. There should be an amendment to the constitution that allows you to keep a car like that for one year. If you do not start to actively restore the vehicle or drive in that time, you must sell it to a real enthusiast for 10% of what you paid for it.

Vote for Steve, you know it makes sense! graemlins/devilgrin.gif

66 fhc
01-21-2002, 04:52 AM
Great story Steve. A somewhat similar story for you muscle car fans, there is a guy in my neighborhood who has '
"rusting" in his driveway a 1968 shelby mustang KR. He also has rusting in the weeds in the back yard a ,I beleve, 1968 cougar eliminator Micky Thompson. I'm told by their owner, there were only 29 made. He's owned them for 30 + years . I tried to buy them but he won't sell. He's going to get around to restoring them some day. So he says. I' m sure he is in his 70s and these are his "claim to fame". I just wish he would'nt let them get any worse. Life's to short to waste interesting cars.

aeronca65t
01-21-2002, 08:50 AM
66 fch:We have a '51 Ford Pickup "in the weeds" near us. Same deal. Sign on the windshield says "No! It's not for sale!"
Also: I found my Spridget languishing in a garage....had been sitting there for 13+ years. Chassis/body was really good (no rust...bad engine) and I got it almost for free! images/icons/grin.gif If only it had been a Jag! (sigh)
Steve: Does this mean (if you become pres) that I have to get cracking on my '67 Spridget parts-car? Can I get a govt. loan to help me? images/icons/wink.gif

Charles #677556
02-16-2002, 07:17 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Steve:
Agreed. There should be an amendment to the constitution that allows you to keep a car like that for one year. If you do not start to actively restore the vehicle or drive in that time, you must sell it to a real enthusiast for 10% of what you paid for it.<hr></blockquote>

Steve;
I don't agree with your "legislation".. I have a '53 XK 120 DHC that I bought when in college ('67) for $300 (oh yeah, I'll sell it for $30.. uh-huh, sure!), I drove the wheels off of it.. in '75 I decided to paint the car.. one thing lead to another and in two weeks time I had a "Jag-In-The-Box". Over the last 27 years I have been buying parts for my DHC.. these parts aren't cheap nor do I make a lot of money.. It take time to save five grand for an interior kit, two grand for the interior wood, the same for today's paint..
I'll "accept" your "legislation" on the condition that you also pass a bill giving owners of classic cars a "minimun wage" of $100K per year.. or more!!
Charles #677556.

--------------------
Charles, I edited your post just to add back in the "end Quote" commands in steves quote so it shows up as a quote in bold type. When using "Reply with Quote" be sure to start your text "after" the [ /QB] and [ /QUOTE] commands- Basil graemlins/angel.gif

[ 02-16-2002: Message edited by: Basil ]</p>

Steve
02-16-2002, 07:52 PM
Charles, it's a deal! Actually, "driving the wheels off it" classifies you for an exemption, and in fact you would qualify for a federal grant to enable the proper restoration of the vehicle! I would make one heck of a politician! graemlins/devilgrin.gif

Charles #677556
03-01-2002, 03:16 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Steve:
Charles, it's a deal! Actually, "driving the wheels off it" classifies you for an exemption, and in fact you would qualify for a federal grant to enable the proper restoration of the vehicle! I would make one heck of a politician! graemlins/devilgrin.gif <hr></blockquote>

Steve;
Well then, You have my vote for sure graemlins/cheers.gif

Matt B
03-02-2002, 08:01 PM
Great story! Makes me cringe a bit though....

Perhaps 10 years ago when I was delivering pizza for a living, I pulled up to a house which had the garage door open about a foot and a half. I went to the door, settled up on the pizza, and as I left, I turned and said.. "By the way...nice car you got there".

He looked at me and said "The Audi, thanks..." To which I replied..."well, yea...the Audi is OK, but I was talking about the car in the garage".

I could just see enough of the car to know it was an XK120, but nothing more except that it was definitely a project. He mentioned that it had been in the family for years, but it was clear he didn't want to show it to me or talk about it. At the time, I wasn't in a position to even think about it..and I didn't know anyone that would have been...so off I went. I've since driven past that house dozens of times, and it appears the folks have moved.... no more XK120 in the car hole.

But ****, I've been kicking myself over it ever since. All I saw was the bottom of the boot lid and the rear bumpers. To this day, I have no furthur details...and that's what really sucks. I'll just have to assume that it was a totally rusted out basket case with a v-8 conversion and a $20,000 price tag. But still.... I have to wonder...

-Matt B
'53 XK 120 FHC

Steve
08-29-2002, 09:26 PM
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk001.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk002.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk003.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk004.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk005.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk006.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk007.JPG
https://britishcarforum.com/pictures/xk008.JPG

Pictures of the Find!!!

This is the car as found, before being taken outside for the first time in goodness knows how many years.

Steve
04-28-2004, 10:17 PM
I resurrected this one for reference, as I have been asked to submit an account of the "find" on paper for possible publication in a club magazine....who knows, maybe I'll see my name in print after all!! images/icons/grin.gif

Sherlock
04-28-2004, 11:33 PM
Congrats Steve!

Now get ready to become famous... graemlins/thumbsup.gif

Henri
04-29-2004, 09:13 PM
maybe I'll see my name in print after all

Great story Steve...flesh it out a bit and you have a novel...oh...your name has been in print around 1865 times and counting according to the houses books...one more won't hurt...

It would be interesting to see the final restoration...what a project...

Thanks for sharing... images/icons/smile.gif

[ 04-29-2004: Message edited by: Henri ]</p>

Steve
04-29-2004, 10:27 PM
I have found a picture of the car as she is today, but unable to post it.....maybe if you look at the page it's on and just scroll down?

Here's the link:-

https://bartm.tripod.com/Thecars.html

[ 04-29-2004: Message edited by: Steve ]</p>

Simon TR4a
04-30-2004, 11:17 AM
Wow!! What a story, and what great shots of the Jags.
This is the kind of thing you always figure is made up or happens to someone else, but obviously it can happen occaisionally; even an alloy-bodied car. Once in a lifetime!
Many if not most of those had racing history,too, wouldn't it be interesting to find out if someone famous like Janet Guthrie had raced the car (I picked her because of the New Jersey plates, she raced in that area in the 1950s)
Simon.