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Bonnet Prop Colors

Bonnet Prop Colors

Dear XKers, The latest issue of Jaguar Journal (US) has a column dedicated to challenges to Concours deductions. One involved the original color of the hood/bonnet prop. The Appellant was dinged for having a black prop and not the "correct" grey-green prop. The appeal was denied with the firm statement that black was NOT correct. I immediately consulted with my unrestored (and shabby) XK 140 S817518 and found shreds of black remaining, but no signs of grey-green. Is this limited to OTS props, or is the consours bible mis-informed? Any other authenticity buffs care to venture an opinion? On the subject of color, my 140dhc was red...red under everything I remove...red in places only an off chassis spray could reach....red inside the vent boxes. But beneath the red -- on outer surfaces, at least, there is a complete coat of white. Beneath the white is a brown filler coat and then a thin black sealer coat on metal. Was white a cheap or excess paint used to build-up the finish? Was Jaguar faced with too many white cars on the docks for an American market that wanted red? Just curious. - Jim Warren XK140dhc S817518 lhd

Dear Jim W: The accepted wisdom (never of course 100% reliable) is that 140 bonnet props were grey (e.g. JCNA papers say so). What colour was your car from the factory? Might it have been black? Some 120s certainly had body colour props (others chrome, or maybe grey?). Let's see what other reports we get re bonnet props from other cars. Regards, John Elmgreen

Jim, After having recently stripped down a 1953 XK120 OTS to bare metal I can confirm the black sealer coat followed by the brown filler. On top of the brown was the original color. - Brent G. Eagling

My orginial prop rod was grey-green on my XK140 and had not been restored before I restored the car. My XK120, early steel body, prop rod was chromed. - Cleo Bay, XK120 OTS, XK140 OTS, E-Type, S-Type

Thanks, it's nice to know someone is listening. - Jim Warren

John and others: As discussed previously, one pattern which emerged (in the 120) was the common color/finish of the bonnet prop, boot lid prop, seat frames, hoodsticks, and grab rail. As usual, there are exceptions to this but it appears that many of the early cars had all these fixtures in chrome; later 120s, (and all 140s) all in grey. During the 120 transition, some mix of chrome and grey. The change from chrome to grey may also be coincident with the change in the OTS hood configuration. Perhaps some folks could comment on this. Chrome fixtures seem most common on the short and long hood cars with fixed (non-zippered) windows: 660059-660728 (except 660726) and 670185-671097. Grey-painted fixtures appeared in cars with zip-down windows: 660726, 660729-661045 and 671098-673395; and cars with zip-up windows: 6601046 and subs. and 673396 and subs. Cars reported to have body-color bonnet props (I've never seen one) suggest that the prop and its attaching hardware were likely in place when the bonnet was painted. Is this consistent with what is known of the factory's painting process? - Regards, Dick Cavicke

Dick, I responded to John off-list that my 140 dhc had black prop, grey seat frames and the entire drop head assembly was sprayed body color...red. I think the idea of "rules" does not seem to apply to Jaguar. Or is the uniform grey prop-rod, seat frame and hood/top frame thing only an OTS rule? Jim Warren

My XK140-FHC is original and has a black rod. The color of the car is red. - Gene Burda

Ha! now we're getting somewhere. - Jim Warren

Mine was painted black which matched to car. When stripped for repaint, it was chrome! - George Badger

My 53 XK120 FHC 681093 has a chromed bonnet rod. Don't know if it's original or not. - Glenn C, OKC

Both the hood and trunk lid prop rods on my 140 are chromed. Also, there is evidence of the black and brown coatings cited by Jim Warren under the remains of the factory gray finish on the underside of the hood. Along that line, the coil mounting bracket, brake fluid reservoir, and throttle linkage mountings are also chromed. - Sam Bell

Sam, you've been attacked by the Kalifornia Kustom Kar Krome vandals, m'thinks. - Jim Warren

Sam, Might some of the chrome hsve been applied by the previous owner. On the finish, my '56 also sports the black and reddish brown undercoats in many places. - Regards, Klaus Nielsen

My 120 FHC was black from the factory. The trunk prop is grey and is the original color. The hood prop is black but most likely has been repainted at some point. Seat frames are grey. - Mike Plechaty

1951 ots 671085 was chrome. Hope this helps. - Norm Larsen

My first 1956 XK140MC, which I purchased in 1959, had black bonnet & boot props & grey seat frames. The current 1956 XK140MC, which I purchased in 1966 and still have, also has black bonnet & boot props & grey seat frames. Both cars were white. Both had red wire wheels. The first one had a red interior. The second one a black interior-now red. Both had black material in the boot. - Ted Zenuk

Stripped the chrome off my prop rod and found ------- raw steel. - George Badger

Hello George Badger, is that true, that there was raw steel under your bonnet prop chrome. I hate to tell you, that your prop is obviously a fake one, because if it would have been original Coventry chrome you would have found layers of copper and nickle. Sorry. May be that the K.K.K.K, what was it? Kalifornia Kustom Krome people got it faked in Mehiko, where they do not use nickle or copper. Cest la vie, as the Irish say. - Arno Wahl

Even a modestly good chrome shop will start the metal in a strip tank then add a nickle coat then into a chome tank. So, you should expect to find raw steel under the coating regardless of any original paint finish. Chome practices vary widely, though, and you generally get what you pay for, but few automotive parts need to be chromed to the kind of tolerance and metalurgical discipline that Boeing would require for aerodynamic control surface actuator components. If you need to have things chomed, be careful about shopping for price. I would recomend asking the shop who their commercial customers are and the kinds of parts they are chroming commercially. - Carl Orlob 680305 XK120FHC

And beneath that? Anyway, seems that JCNA concours should be able to benefit from the collective wisdom here. I'll pass on these comments...well, most of them (steel indeed ;-] ) if I can find the appropriate recipient. - Jim Warren

The rod from late 120 FHC 681114 is rust pitted, definitely not chromed, may have been black but I can't be absolutely sure because my observation was taken with a flashlight at a distance of 4 feet. Gotta move a car to get a closer look. Hmmm, just 20 cars after Glenn C's 681093, we could be narrowing in on a changeover point. Not to be too critical of JCNA for trying, but these list discussions have shown that it's awfully difficult to lay down the rules and claim to be the absolute authoritative word on originality. The JCNA rule may have been based on too small a sample size. Seems better to me to do as Dick C is doing with the otter switch bolt question, put it out on the net and get a lot of interested observers to submit data. Oops, maybe this paragraph belongs on the concours digest. Reminds me of Finagle's Law of Data: The one observation which is absolutely unimpeachable and certain, will be the one which gets typed wrong in the paper. First Corollary: Everyone you ask to check your paper thoroughly before submitting it for publication will miss it too. Second Corollary: Everyone who reads your published work will see it immediately. - Rob Reily

I didn't think to look at the boot prop rod until someone mentioned it, but my XK120 FHC 681093 has the chromed bonnet rod and the boot rod is a light metallic green over what looks like gray over a primer/sealer of a rust color - on a red car. Obviously, the boot rod was taken from another vehicle. If the bonnet rod is chromed, should the boot rod be chromed also? I don't think my car would be a good reference for a changeover point. - Glenn C, OKC

Hi all -- to join the bonnet rod colour debate: my original MK IX, RHETT, 792817 BW, built 12/15/59, has a bonnet rod that's gloss black -- always has been, always (as long as I own him) will be -- also, cotter pin head faces REAR, split ends (bent to hold in) face FRONT. - Larry Martz

John, 140FHC - Special: For what it is worth, before cleaning for refinishing both the boot and bonnet rods were body colored i.e. white. The seat frames were light gray with a blue tinge with a red oxide primer undercoat. - Regards, Klaus Nielsen

I've sent this in before, My XK120 OTS, 671279, has the chrome seat frames, top frame, and both prop rods. This was before restoration and all are still chrome. - Cleo Bay, XK120 OTS, XK140 OTS, E-Type OTS, S-Type

If you have any questions or comments send e-mail to: ted@jag-lovers.org
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