By Wallace Wyss
Photos by Bob Petricca and Francis de Pouqueville
Bob Petricca, of West Hills, CA, a suburb in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, has been in the exotic car business for 40 years and has heard every “barn story” there is.
You woulda thunk he’d be skeptical of each new story, as so many leads evaporate—Jag XK120s turn out to be Austin Healey Sprites, that sort of thing.
Every once in a while, the “urban legend” turns out to be real, so you have to check them out. In this case Petricca checked out a query on an “old Jaguar parked for forty-three years.”
The lead came from a lady whose deceased brother had been a scientist. She called Petricca up and asked if he was interested in it and, hoping against hope that this would not turn out to be just another urban legend, he drove over to look at it. Her story was true. Better yet – the car was stored a mere eight miles from his house.
Petricca knows 120s. He has bought and sold a dozen of them. But what makes this car remarkable is that it is a car buff’s dream: a two-owner totally rust free California-domiciled car that was stored right.
The lady told him the story. Her brother, a research scientist, had bought the car in 1961. He drove it until one day in 1966 when he experienced a small engine fire in the carburetors. He parked it in his sister’s garage in nearby Sherman Oaks, figuring he’d fix it soon. But he was called upon to work in Washington D.C. and never returned to California.
The Jaguar is a 1951 XK-120 roadster from the third year of production with serial number 670664.
Petricca was particularly happy that the car came complete with a tool kit, side curtains, a convertible top which he believes may be the original, a spare tyre and wheel, and the jacking kit.
It also came with the steel side skirts. Ironically if you ordered the wire wheels, it did not come with the skirts, which couldn’t clear the knock offs. The paint and body have a bit of wear and will no doubt be redone when the car is restored.
“I am half tempted,” says Petricca, “to mechanically restore it, to make it safe to drive, and then drive it around for awhile looking like it did when I found it. That way I can show that those barn stories are sometimes true.”
Wallace Alfred Wyss is a writer who now is becoming discovered as a painter. To see his paintings of classic cars, go to www.velocetoday.com/products-page/art-and-models.