A Magical Afternoon in the XK140
Posted 25 July 2011 by Arlene Osborn
Restoration is basically the opposite of an episode of Overhaulin'. It is a long, often tedious drawn-out process with no instant gratification. But sometime, if you are very, very lucky, you will have one of those once-in-a-blue-moon days that remind you why you love your job and what all the long days are for.
One of those days came recently for us in the restoration of our customer's XK140. We had the chassis powdercoated and all the items that attach to it, engine, transmission, fuel tank & lines, etc., were restored and attached and ready for quite some time, waiting for the body to be mounted. The body had to have all the metal repair and body work done and all the panels fitted (who knew that "removable fenders" was such a bad word in the mouth of a body man!) before the interior panels and engine compartment could be painted in body color. Once the color was on, maroon in this case, and the rubberized undercoating was sprayed on the inner fender areas, the chassis and body were ready for their reunion.
Our customer, Martin, flew/drove in for the reunion which went smoothly overall and then the fun began. Once the body was attached to the frame we started prepping for the real purpose of his trip, taking the car for a spin up and down the driveway. Normally with any job in the shop, the focus is on keeping the car/part as clean as possible until it is returned to the customer. Being allowed to take the car up and down the driveway and get it dirty for fun was a little like being offered dessert without having to eat any vegetables. The steering and throttle linkage had to be installed along with the battery. The seat hardware had to be restored and installed temporarily along with the seats themselves (still in their protective foam/plastic wrappings). Finally on Friday afternoon we were ready.
Martin, as is only fitting, got the pleasure of the first drive with Walt as a passenger. Walt got a turn to drive as did Joe. Then Martin offered me a ride. I am not usually allowed to touch the cars (klutz that I am) let alone ride in them. With the powerful clean lines of the car stretching out in front of us on the gravel road on a warm summer afternoon it was like being transported in a time machine to the 1950s when the car was new. The car accelerated so quickly and effortlessly that it felt like we could just fly along forever with the wind blowing all our cares away (or at least until we ran out of gas). Unfortunately our driveway is not that long and the ride was over way too quickly.
The afternoon ended with grins all around and some road dirt for Rob to clean off the 140 before he can finish painting her. For one afternoon we got to remember that we restore these cars so that our customers can drive them, enjoy them, and maybe just for a minute, be transported back to a time when life was less complicated.
P.S. The silver lining: We found out that Martin needs a little more leg room to drive the car comfortably than what is available with the seats mounted in the standard position. Since we know that at this stage, we can move the seats back easily and create that space without having to deal with it at long distance once the car is delivered.