Roadster Restoration Project Is a 10-Year Success Story

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1952 Jaguar roadster restoration.

Vintage 1952 Jaguar Roadster went from a neglected body on a chassis to a concourse-level driver and has a fascinating story to tell.

We came across the story of Victor Garlin and his 1952 XK120 Jaguar Roadster in a Mercury News profile. Garlin is an 82-year-old retired university professor in Berkeley, California. He is also a lifelong Jaguar man after purchasing his first, an XK150, in 1967.

Garlin bought the car from a Berkeley resident named John Hewitt, who had bought the car in 1968 and had begun restoring it. Unfortunately, Hewitt didn’t make a lot of money from his job and stored it away to complete later. Knowing he was in financial trouble, Garlin had offered to buy the car, but Hewitt said: “I’ll kill myself before I’d sell that car.”

Tragically, around Christmas time in 1999, after reaching financial rock bottom Hewitt did take his own life.  A year later, Garland received a call from the garage that stored the Jaguar.  Hewitt had left them a note telling them to contact Garlin if they didn’t hear from him. Garlin then contacted Hewitt’s sister and purchased the car on the basis he would restore the Jaguar as Hewitt had intended.

With help from his wife Garlin has done a spectacular job. He’s taken the sadly neglected XK120 and turned it into a world-class car again. They managed to rescue matching number parts from the house that Hewitt had lived in, then spent the next ten years sourcing original Jaguar parts. They assembled a lot of it themselves, but brought professional help in as needed. The cherry on that particular cake is the gorgeous original Jaguar Bronze paint.

After completing the project, Garland’s XK120 has won the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance twice. It was also the feature car at a Biscotti and Cars event last year. Garlin estimates around $60,000 have gone into the XK120 restoration. It may be worth over double that now, but we’re not sure you can truly put a price on a car with that kind of story. Let alone an XK120 that has had so much love poured into it.

Photos: The Mercury News

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Ian Wright has been a professional writer for two years and is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum, Jaguar Forum, and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

His obsession with cars started young and has left him stranded miles off-road in Land Rovers, being lost far from home in hot hatches, going sideways in rallycross cars, being propelled forward in supercars and, more sensibly, standing in fields staring at classic cars. His first job was as a mechanic and then trained as a driving instructor before going into media production.

The automotive itch never left though, and he realized writing about cars is his true calling. However, that doesn’t stop him from also hosting the Both Hand Drive podcast.

Ian can be reached at [email protected]

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