Auction Finds: California Jaguar XK120 & 1931 Chevy

Jaguar XK140

Reader Jim B. writes: Hey Jesse, Josh and everyone – I have a client here in Southern California that occasionally runs into cars as part of their estate clearing/auction business. Look at what they found, and what is going to come up for bid next week: Surplus Merchandise  A Jag (not sure if it’s a 120 or 140, but they seem to think it’s a 140), and a 1931 Chevrolet coupe. Could be great finds for the right buyer! Thought I’d let you know about it, if you thought it was newsworthy for your list! Hope you are all well. LOVED the wedding photos!! Congrats again! Well, I think the Jag is actually an XK120, and the Chevrolet looks pretty solid. These cars will be auctioned off April 13 at 4 pm in Santa Ana, California. Check out this site for the location and details.


The XK120 (they call it a 140, but I’m pretty sure it’s a 120) is in largely unknown condition, but the body actually doesn’t look too bad. Of course it will need a lot of both work and parts, and there’s a lot of components missing (unless they are in the trunk).


No, the interior doesn’t look like much, although the extra set of cam covers has me wondering what is in the trunk! Obviously the car will need everything on the inside! I wonder why someone replaced the iconic Jaguar steering wheel?


If I understand correctly, the blue plate may mean that this wasn’t a California car all it’s life (feel free to correct me, experts). I am encouraged by how straight most of the sheet metal seems, and with parts availability being pretty good for these cars, I’m sure it could be brought back.


The other find is a little more puzzling, as it appears to have been partially disassembled and we know even less about it mechanically as there are no pictures under the hood.

Image courtesy of Old Cars Weekly

This is what it could look like, and I don’t see anything that would tell me the auction car isn’t a 1931 Chevrolet. I wish the hood ornament was still there!


Like the Jaguar, this car has solid sheet metal and really should be saved. I wonder what the paint could be buffed to–I’m sure it’s not original, as the door jambs are colored differently, but it would be interesting to see what one could do with it.


I didn’t find a single picture of a Chevrolet this old with a vinyl or leather interior, so I’m guessing this isn’t original. Perhaps this was a mild custom in the 50’s–that may account for the steel wheels on the rear?

If you are interested in either of these cars and go by to see them, please let us know and send some more information!


WANTED 1931 Ford A coupe body no hood grill fenders or running boards or truck cab only with doors Contact

WANTED 1979 Chevrolet Monza Looking for the Town Coupe version, brown, ideally California but willing to buy from anywhere. Contact

WANTED 1965-1967 Chevrolet Corvette Looking for a father/son project car. Engine/no engine. Running/not running. Contact

WANTED 1959 Chevrolet Apache 3200 Fleetside LWB Looking for project truck. Complete vehicle with minimal rust desired. Contact

WANTED 1960 to 2005 Honda any Looking to buy low mileage original Japanese vehicles for my collection gary dunc Contact

Submit Your Want Ad


  1. Van

    Major red flags.
    Valve covers in the seat, open rusty engine?
    Cheep steering wheel?
    Rear bumpers falling of rusty body?
    Rust along body/fender joint?
    Don’t touch without full in the air inspection.
    Leave this for the more money than sense club.
    I think it would take more than a labor of love for this jag.
    New Web sight ” Bring a Dust Pan”

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Actually, Van, that’s a second set of valve covers in the seat. My guess would be a non-original engine…it’s all going to depend on how much it goes for. I can see this being a dedicated labor of love for a home enthusiast willing to do heavy work rather than a checkbook restoration.

      • Dave Wright

        I think you have it Jamie, looks like a great project but depends on what it sells for. These cars are priced all over the map today but are on a deffinate upswing, it is an in person auction so you will not be bidding against any internet dreamers. Even being preserved and worked on at a slow bell… will continue to appreciate as time goes. Off course if more than one dreamer is at the auction all bets are off and there may be an unrealistic reserve to deal with as well.

      • John Elmgreen

        Jamie, can you get the numbers of the XK120? For example, engine number on the head and block, numbers from the special plate in the engine compartment on the scuttle? body number on a tag riveted to the firewall in the engine compartment? chassis number on a bracket near where the exhaust goes past the chassis in the engine compartment? Looks like about a 1952: vents in the front guards, and presumably the early style chromed sidelights.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Sorry, John — perhaps the auction house can help? I’m across the country from the auction :-(

      • John Elmgreen

        Thanks, Jamie. I now believe the car is chassis 671879 and a Feb 1952 build XK120 Open Two Seater. A major job but I hope someone will love it !

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks for filling in some of the details, John!

    • Julles

      Van, if this was a 1970’s Firebird you would be saying how great and fixable this was. This is a real Jaguar XK120/140 roadster in a no reserve auction in a parking lot! Are you kidding? Good thing we don’t live in California, I’d be dragging this baby home in a heartbeat. So it has rust, duh it is an old british car. If it didn’t have some rust you would have to question it. Kind of like if your MGTD doesn’t leak oil, there is something wrong with it. Rust? That is what welding is for. Missing parts? That is what XK’s Unlimited is for. Will it take you years and a ton of money and sweat? Yes but it will be a labor of love. On your deathbed, would you rather say you spent the nights of your life drinking a second beer on the couch watching the same episode of Chasing Classic Cars for the third time or putting together an Jaguar XK 120/140, a work of art that will be honored for many generations to come?

      • Ross W. Lovell

        . Greetings All,

        Well stated, Julles.

      • Van

        Don’t encourage her.
        She’s wanting to fill the yard with dead cats.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Encouragement plenty coming from this direction!

  2. grenade

    Nice find, fun stuff. This is how I feel about almost everything that people are afraid of:
    “dedicated labor of love for a home enthusiast willing to do heavy work rather than a checkbook restoration”. If that’s anything like the buyer for these cars, they will end up with some pretty rad creations.

  3. Van

    Anybody know why some 120s don’t have front turn signals?

    • Ross W. Lovell

      . Greetings All,

      The 120’s came with running lights on top of the fender. They also came with a separate light pod pressing that was leaded to the top of the fender.
      The odd thing is the lead would bubble. Spent a lot of time traipsing around junkyards and never saw an example of the Big Three’s lead work go bad, yet this seems common on at least Jags, yet not with MG’s from the same era.

      • Dave Wright

        Tony Handler used to bemoan the quality of lead work on the Rolls and Bentley cars. Probably were all done by the same labor unions.

    • Bob

      The early roadsters (Open Two Sitters) had separate front turn signals. Including the alloy ones….
      There is not much rust there. Is this an alloy one?

      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        We have an early alloy one , with Heritage Certs, in the Jaguar Club, no chrome light pods.

        Never seen one of those before and have been judging sanctioned show for close to twenty years.

        Most people attempt tho buff out the corrosion on the aluminum while other work gets started. Freshly polished aluminum, once left alone if not coated corrodes very quickly and uniformly, think bare steel.

    • Big time charlie

      Actually, the early 120’s had chrome parking light bezels on top of the fenders, the later models were welded to the fender, leaded in and painted. Early ones had no turn signals, either.

      This car appears to me to have been in a flood. The extensive corrosion all over the body and engine parts (even aluminum) is really weird. Body looks good, parts not so much.

    • Big time charlie

      Not an alloy car – rust showing on fenders and cowl.

  4. Jim Mosley

    Van, You assumed correctly that the interior on the ’31 chevy was not lleather or plastic, The factory used “Mohair:, which wore like iron, but the moths liked them too!!

    • Ed Willaims

      Hello Jim!

      You’re correct in saying that the “31 Chevys had mohair upholstery. My dad had a coupe like the one pictured here all through WW2 besides our “33 Pontiac 601 Sedan.
      Dad removed the Rumble Seat and built a pickup box in the space to carry his garden tools and hand push mower. He had a gardening route in Beverly Hills servicing a few apartment buildings. I was about six years old then.

  5. Dolphin Member

    From the body shape and the tiny bumpers it’s an XK120. Photo attached. The thing that puzzles me is the absence of running lights on the front fenders. Maybe shaved by a previous owner.

    The blue California plate looks like the older 6-digit one from 1969 to 1979 I think, so it was probably on the road some time during those years.

    Agree with Dave it looks like a good project car if what you want is a (maybe) inexpensive entry cost, and then work on it over time. Body metal looks pretty good, like it was a California car. The SCM Guide has current auction sale prices for these at around $100K, but I agree they probably vary quite a lot depending…….

  6. Van

    Why does it look to me like the left rear bumper has fallen of due to rust

  7. curt

    My ’53 XKs (first one was a red roadster, second one was a FHC in British Racing Green, both spoked) had faired-in parking and rear lights, so this is prob a 51 or 52, with the removable lights

    • John Elmgreen

      Hi Curt! I record the histories of all XK120s, would you like to send me some more details of your cars? Email is elmgreen [AT] Look forward to hearing from you! – John

      • curt

        What year did the side air vents come on the cars ? This one had them. The parking lights must have been faired in originally for this year model.

  8. John Elmgreen

    Hi Curt, side vents came in at chassis 671097 in February 1951. The other easy way to date these cars is by the later sidelights which came in with chassis 672927, September 1952. This car is right in between! – John E

  9. dr.d Member

    I just watched these two cars sell. There were bidders on the phone with their superiors and 50 or so of us live in the audience. The Jag brought $27k and was extremely rough. Vin plate intact. Sold to a phone bidder with a rep in the audience. The Chevy brought just $5k and was very solid throughout. Sold to a local hot rod shop owner.

    • Horse Radish

      I am an hour (+) away from there.
      Thanks for the update.
      I am relieved, not to have wasted my whole afternoon for this.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks for the report, Dr. D! And I’d echo the comment of well sold on the Jag for sure!

  10. John Elmgreen

    Thanks, dr d. I would think that should be regarded as “well sold”.

  11. dr.d Member

    Indeed, It seems that someone has the foresight / foolishness / fortitude to see this one through.

    I go to this auction on occasion and would venture that the publicity here on Barn Finds definitely drew the big players to this otherwise small time auction. On behalf of whomever the heirs are, I’ll offer a thank you to the Barn Finds staff and the buyer. The word got out, it attracted several strong bidders from abroad, and these two cars sold well. Congrats to all.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for the update. Glad the cars went to good homes!

  12. tom Bell

    Sad the Chevy went to a hot rod shop owner. Another piece of automotive history will probably cut up and lost forever.

    Tom Bell

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