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Red Brake Drums

Red Brake Drums

Carl: My vote is for body color. I think it's fairly safe to say that, with perhaps the exception of some red brake drums, the only two "finishing" paint colors used on 120s were the body color and black. - Dick Cavicke, 120 FHC & OTS

Dick and all, At the risk of reigniting our great red axle pumpkin debate, can you provide more details on red brake drum originality? I've seen it used on several XKs. I also painted them red on my XK-140 before I got the originality bug and restored them back to black. - Regards, Mike Carpenter

Mike: There is no doubt in my mind that many brand new wire-wheeled XKs left the dealerships with red brake drums. Whether or not some of these were done at the factory is unknown. While not restricted to dark colored cars, the red drums did help to brighten up the wheel areas of darker colored cars, particularly those with painted (vice chrome) wire wheels. I hope someone on the list has other information. John Elmgreen and I discussed this some time back but, at the time, knew of no documentation which proved or disproved factory involvement. There are currently several 120s being shown in Southern California with red brake drums. As a judge, I would not deduct points for red drums on a 120 or 140. I have some spare used drums, they're all red with no signs of ever being black. - Dick Cavicke

I remember black for disk wheels and red for wire wheels for XK-120s and XK-140s. Flat or matte finish, like dull reddish-orange primer; showed off well behind painted wire wheels pre-chrome). May have changed to black with advent of chrome wire wheel option. Not authoritative, just remember incongruity of shiny car and 'primer-like' drums! - Regards to all, Larry Schear, Twin Cam, Inc.

I always considered that 120/140 brake drums had been repainted either by the owner or dealer if they appeared red. As austere as Sir William was it seems odd that he would have spent time and money to dispatch these cars with red drums when most of the mechanics of these cars were painted black. Since our prime XK researchers are unaware of factory documentation evidencing the factory position, it appears that we can only speculate as to what color(s) the brake drums left the factory. While the following statement is certainly not authoritative on the subject, I will share with you the gist of a conservation I had with a friend just before posting this message. As a salesman for a local Jaguar dealer, he once again described to me his recall of the three 120 roadsters sitting in the show room in 1952. One was painted a medium gray (as he described it), one British Racing Green, and the other black. All were wire wheel cars with black brake drums. He said that years later as he attended various Jaguar concours that it always seemed strange to him that some 120 and 140 cars appeared with red painted drums. Just something to stir the pot. - Bob Oates

Two years ago, I saw an unrestored XK140 with wire wheels and red brake drums. The car had sat in a garage for over 20 years. That is not the only car I have seen with red drums, but this one was an original owner car, so it appears red drums did happen. - XK120

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