Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Until now, for me, concours competitions have been for other people, unjustly categorised in my mind as enthusiastic owners as opposed to hard core restoration enthusiasts.  If as planned, I bring this car back to its original as new state, is there not a case to at least have a bash at the concours scene and possibly enjoy the accolades and added value that a couple of trophies would bring.
Hypocritically, I have in the past judged a couple of local mixed mark events and have been more than aware of my limited detail knowledge, in spite of being immersed in the classic car scene for something approaching half a century.  I would have to add that some of my fellow judges were perhaps even less knowledgeable, which is a bit of a worry. 
Given my competitive streak, and the aforementioned potential vagaries of adjudication, I am not sure that I could live with the maxim that 'discretion is the better part of valour' upon coming second.  Coming third doesn't bear thinking about.
Concours related decisions for me, are mainly centred around the conflict of ideally using a car almost as a daily driver for around eight months of the year.  Compromises in favour of both ideals will have to be made.  Specifically:

The paint finish for the chassis. Originally, I believe a very thin coat of semi gloss black, possibly bitumen based paint. No primer or undercoat.

Remnants of paint provide a clue to original finish
After blast cleaning back to bear metal and etch priming, the chassis was seam sealed and given a liberal covering of fine texture stone guard, followed by several coats of semi gloss paint. It was then liberally impregnated with wax oil in every orifice.  For now and the next few years, the only person to care about this will be me.  Imagine then, another sixty years from now (President Ahmadinejad willing), some future custodian enjoying the fruits of my labours with a still rust free chassis.  That's the goal!

Chassis now finished for maximum protection.
The next issue again relates to paint.  Before the move from Foleshill to Browns Lane in 1952, all cars, possibly with the exception of motor show exhibits had their engine compartments and boots (trunks) brush painted black.  After the move they were painted body colour everywhere, on rotisseries. 
Picture clearly shows black paint in boot area, but not on hinge panel.

Undisturbed black (now with blue tinge) paint.  Brush marks
clearly visible.
I can't recall ever seeing a restored early 120 where this feature has been retained, and discussing the additional work to achieve this with the body shop, I can see why.  Not preserving this distinct difference would be for me, too obvious a deviation from original, so I think it's well worth the extra effort.

Another particular aversion are seats with immaculate marbled leather, so perfect that it looks unnatural, almost plastic, no variations, creases or faults, to me, this is not a good look.    I am told that the leather is specially sourced from Germany where they don't use barbed wire, so no cuts or scratches.  Surly this should not be seen as a positive feature in any competition where originality is prized!

Spats and wheels are an even more contentious subject.  I quite dislike the look of XK's with spats.  A view I think shared by all but a few die hard purists.  I do like wire wheels, painted, not chrome.  In 1950 all XK's came with steel wheels and spats. Wire wheels weren't even an option until March 1951.  Never the less, this is one aspect of the project not open to discussion.  Body colour wires will be fitted. 
KRU600 - photo courtesy of first owner Vernon Maitland
Spats - love em or hate em! 
The original steel wheels and spats will be cleaned, sprayed with wax and properly crated so that some future owner will have the option of easily taking the car back to original spec if preferred.

In all other respects, KRU600 should be indistinguishable from new.  There will be a good many upgrades as detailed previously, but hidden away, out of sight from even the most hair-splitting concours judge.  The summer of 2013 should be interesting.