Following hot on the heels of Jaguar’s seminal XK 120 was the revised and refined XK 140. When the XK 120 first hit the streets in 1948 it was the first proper sports car from Jaguar since the pre-war SS100 and it became the car that truly put the marque in the mainstream. Seemingly from nowhere, this exotic and beautiful automobile offered astounding performance from its 160 horsepower twin-overhead cam inline six cylinder engine, all for less than $4,000. While the list price was not exactly cheap, it was often far below its competitors and offered much greater performance for the money. The standard XK 120 was followed up with “M” and “MC” versions (Modified and Modified, C-Type head) also known as SE in other markets. These high performance variants boosted horsepower from the standard 160 bhp to 180 bhp and 210 bhp respectively. The XK 120 proved popular among American servicemen who had caught the sports car bug while serving in Europe in the early post-war years and became a fixture of the early days of American road racing, establishing Jaguar as a premier sports car manufacturer.
Hesitant to mess with success, Jaguar released the next generation of the XK series in mid-1954. Now called the XK 140, the new car was quite similar in outward appearance, though some modern refinements were made to the body and the undercarriage. The engine was moved forward by three inches to address complaints of cramped accommodations of its predecessor. The standard engine was now the 190 horsepower version of the 3.4 liter inline six, with the return of the M option (SE in other markets) and its 210 horsepower output. Straight line performance was about the same as the XK120 thanks to a bit of added weight from the bulkier full-width bumpers and additional trim. But the road holding had been vastly improved thanks to the addition of rack and pinion steering, telescopic dampers, larger brakes and additional suspension travel. These improvements made the XK 140 more comfortable, predictable and enjoyable to drive. As before, three body styles – a fixed head coupe, open two-seat roadster (OTS) and drophead coupe were available, with the OTS Roadster being the most overtly sporting of the three.
Our featured XK 140 is a 1955 O.T.S. in original M-specification, finished in Carmen red over black leather. This is a lovely, matching numbers example that has been restored to a high level, consistently earning 99 plus points at Jaguar Club North America concours. The previous owner was a dedicated enthusiast who enjoyed show preparation, and the car shows it in the excellent detailing and presentation. Finished in the correct original Carmen red applied over excellent bodywork with superb panel fit and finish quality. Chrome bumpers are straight and plated to a high standard and it wears a pair of period correct Lucas fog lamps along with correct detailing, badges and lamps. The convertible top of the OTS is a simple affair that hides behind the seats. The frame is correctly painted dove gray and trimmed with black Stayfast canvas. Restored original side-curtains are included. This crisp, sharp XK140 rides on a set of chrome wire wheels wrapped in blackwall bias ply tires as original. It is a lovely, striking combination that captures the sporting essence of the XK140 beautifully.
Black leather upholstery lends a sharp contrast against the Carmen red paintwork. The cockpit rails are trimmed in black as original, and the leather remains in very good condition, showing just the slightest bit of creasing from use since the restoration was completed. Seats and black carpets are excellent, and the door panels and kick panels are upholstered in correct materials. Instruments are restored Smiths units as original, mounted in the central panel, trimmed in leather for the sporting OTS rather than the more opulent wood of the drophead coupe. The boot is correctly trimmed in Hardura and includes a tool roll with a full complement of original tools.
The legendary XK six-cylinder engine is, in our opinion, one of the best looking power plants of all time. The signature polished cam covers, painted cylinder head, and polished intake and carburetors make it a piece of kinetic art. This fine example is very well detailed, as the previous owner enjoyed showing the car in JCNA events. Proper hardware, fittings and labels adorn the engine and underhood accessories. The quality restoration has been documented via an included photo album of the process, and JCNA judging sheets show the level of detail sought by the previous owner. This is very fine quality example in highly desirable M-specification, and thanks to that 210 horsepower engine and well-sorted nature, it would be a fine choice for drivers while remaining fresh enough for a concours.