Wreck cost as much as Mini

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X factor . . . Chris Miller, of Dunedin, will show his 1951 Jaguar XK120 in the Autospectacular at the Edgar Centre on Saturday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Chris Miller talks to Shawn McAvinue about his 1951 Jaguar XK120.

Where and when did you get it?

I got the word there was one in a garage in Caversham and I paid $4800 for a wreck on May 9, 1977. She was in a pretty dilapidated state when I bought her – I could have bought a brand-new Mini in the day.

Any regrets about bypassing the Mini?

No I don’t regret it – of course I don’t – but people thought I was mad at the time.

What is the appeal of Jaguars?

I blame my father – he restored Chryslers and then he bought a Jag, and I bought it off him years later and it set the bug.

How long did the restoration take?

It started in 1977, then I did my OE for five years, and resumed it when I returned and I finished it in 1997.

How often do you use it?

A couple of times a month – it’s never been kept in a glass case.

Does it get much attention?

People are always stopping you to talk and kids yell out “hey mister” and wave.

Is it quick?

It can cruise at the speed limit easily. It was made to do 120mph [193kmh] – that’s why it was called an XK120.

Have you ever taken it on a private race track?

No – I use it and abuse it but not like that.

Does it have a temperament?

I’ve had the brakes modernised – it still has drum brakes but I’ve had the wheel cylinders sleeved with stainless steel because they used to rust up and one brake would go and the other wouldn’t. Now it will stop on a pin.

The 1951 Jaguar XK120 will appear in the Otago Jaguar Drivers Club display at the Autospectacular at the Edgar Centre on Saturday.

The display will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the launch of the XK models (XK120 at the London 1948 Motor Show) and the 50th anniversary of the launch of the XJ models (XJ6 launched at the 1968 Paris Motor Show).