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Jaguar XK140: buying guide and review (1954-1957)

Jaguar XK140: buying guide and review (1954-1957) Classic and Performance Car
Jaguar XK140 Jaguar XK140
Performance, style and rarity. Arguably the three factors which have the greatest bearing on how much a classic will be worth today. The Jaguar XK140 boasts all three, and adds in a little motorsport pedigree and a gorgeous straight-six howl for good measure. 
 
The 140 followed on from the successful 120, and gained a host of subtle improvements in almost every area. Mechanically, it benefitted from a more accurate rack and pinion steering setup, while a tuned version of the 120’s 3.4-litre straight six now produced 190bhp. 
 
From the outside, though largely the same as its predecessor, the XK140 gained some minor tweaks. The chrome bumpers were larger, and the old wing-mounted side markers were replaced with modern flashing indicators located beside the headlamp units. The grille featured fewer, wider vertical bars, and a badge on the boot lit proudly read "Winner Le Mans 1951-3". Inside, cabin space was improved relative to the 120 courtesy of shifting the firewall forwards, adding 76mm of legroom. 
 
The XK140’s success came not only from its performance and roadholding, but it’s value for money – despite offering similar stats to the offerings from Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari, it cost significantly less to buy than any of them. Over its three year production period, 8950 were built. Today, just under a quarter of those remain, with approximately 530 right-hand drive models still accounted for. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
There were three distinct body styles of the XK140 produced: the Roadster, the Drophead Coupe and the Fixed Head Coupe. The Roadster has a lightweight (unlined) canvas hood which folded away behind the seats. Side windows were temporary plastic items, while the full windscreen frame was also removable. Inside, the dash and door panels were trimmed in leather, and it was strictly a two-seater only. In total, 73 right hand drive Roadsters were produced. 
 
Unlike the Roadster, the Drophead Coupe featured a fixed windscreen and wind up windows. The more substantial canvas hood sat on the body when opened. The interior is differentiated from the roadster thanks to a dashboard and door cappings trimmed in walnut veneer, and an occasional rear seat added a little extra practicality. 
 
The Fixed Head Coupe was the most spacious of all, with the large bubble roof starting slightly further forward than in the other pair, adding a little extra cabin space. That aside, the cabin is pretty much identical in design to the Drophead. 
 
A more performance-oriented version was also available. Known as the SE, the engine produced an extra 20bhp, courtesy of the C-Type cylinder head and H8 SU sandcast carburettors. The torsion bars were beefed up, and it can be distinguished from lesser models thanks to SE badging and twin tail pipes. 
 
From the factory, wire wheels were an optional extra. The cars which were specified with the standard steel wheels featured spats across the rear arches. 
 
Most cars remain fairly original, but the most common modifications include a brake disc upgrade (the later XK150 used discs, so the conversion isn't too ambitious), and a more modern synchro five-speed gearbox. 
 
Performance and specs 
 
Engine 3442cc, straight-six
Power 190bhp @ 5500rpm (SE: 210bhp @ 5750rpm)
Torque 210lb ft @ 2500rpm (213lb ft @ 4000rpm)
Top speed 121mph (129mph)
0-60mph 8.4 secs (7.5secs)
Fuel consumption approx 20mpg
Gearbox Four speed manual, three speed automatic
 
Dimensions and weight 
 
Wheelbase 2591mm
Length 4470mm
Width 1645mm
Height 1334mm
Weight 1422kg
 
Common problems
 
• Check the condition of the hood - particularly on the Roadster. It was fairly flimsy from new, so if it’s loose or sagging it will likely leak. While this might not be an issue if you only plan to use the car on sunny days, and it’s garaged, it will still affect the value. If the original removable canvas/plastic side curtains are included, that's a bonus 
 
• Some XK specialists have warned that imitations claiming to be XK140s exist – particularly Roadsters converted from the more common XK120. Bring an expert to verify the condition and validity of any potential purchase.
 
• As well as checking the car is all it seems with regards to the car’s identity, it's always preferable to have a fully matching numbers car. This means that the chassis number should match up to the number stamped into the engine block, cylinder head and transmission. It’s actually unusual to find a fully matching numbers car, so a premium is often paid for these.
 
• You can also dissect the chassis number to work out if the car is actually the correct specification. For example BW at the end signifies a car that left the factory with an automatic gearbox.
 
• The steering felt a little vague when new, so this shouldn’t be a huge concern. Grip, however, is impressive 
 
• Make sure the gearbox works as it should. They are fairly reliable, but spares are now rare, and therefore expensive 
 
• As with most mechanical ignition systems, the points can wear 
 
• A strange quirk is that different versions featured different battery setups. The Coupe used 2x 6 Volt batteries, while the Drophead and Roadster had a single 12v. This was always mounted under the bonnet on the passenger side (i.e on the left on right-hand drive models and vice versa.) 
 
• The XK originally used a dynamo to generate electrical current for the ancillaries, however most cars have since been fitted with a much more dependable alternator. These are generally subtle conversions, which don’t harm the originality in the engine bay. 
 
• The single biggest cost when it comes to an XK140, is bodywork restoration. As you might expect, rust is a big problem, and it can cost a lot to put right. It’s therefore vital that if you are paying top money for a car that it is in perfect structural condition. 
 
• If you’re expecting a simple old chassis and separate body arrangement, then be prepared for a shock. It’s a surprisingly complex body, with lots of gentle curves and complex shapes that can be difficult to repair to a high standard. Repair panels can be bought, but labour and costs involved in repairs should not be underestimated. 
 
• If maintained correctly, the engine is very strong. If it runs poorly, the most likely culprit will be poorly tuned carbs, however there are other more serious issues that must be checked due to the cost involved in rebuilding the XK engine.
 
• With the engine warmed through, check for any signs of oil burning, as well as having a listen for any timing chain rattles. You should also keep an eye out for any excessive oil leaks, and the general condition of the cooling system – especially the the radiator. 
 
Model history 
 
1954: Jaguar XK140 revealed to replace the XK120. 
1956: Automatic transmission offered as an option - the first time an auto ‘box was available for a Jaguar sports car. 
1957: Production ceases. 8950 units produced. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites 
 
• xkclub.com – a large owners club which with members worldwide. Caters for XK120, 140 and 150, plus C and D-Type 
• www.xkdata.com – a free, detailed XK resource which documents the numbers of XKs still in existance. Also includes a complete colour guide for the full XK range 
• www.xkparts.com – Jaguar parts specialist based in Coventry 
• www.jaguarownersclub.com – an owners’ club which covers all things Jaguar 
• www.jagxk.com – Twyford Motors, XK specialist based in Waterlooville, Hampshire 
• www.jaguarheritage.com – the official Jaguar Heritage trust and archive 
 
Summary and prices 
 
Given their rarity, it’s the Roadsters which tend to command the highest values. Fully restored left-hand drive Roadsters are advertised for around £150,000. If you're fortunate enough to find an original, immaculate right-hand drive model, expect to pay closer to £200,000. 
 
Tidy Dropheads are usually priced at around £80-100,000, with Coupes generally slightly lower. However, the very finest examples of both often move well into six figures. Barn finds and restoration projects command anywhere between £20,000 and £40,000.
Jaguar XK140 Jaguar XK140
Last updated: 29th Jun 2016
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Jaguar XK140
49500 155000 GBP
  • 1957 Jaguar XK140 DHC

    $97,500(£0) $97,500(£0)

    Year: 1957 Make: Jaguar Model: XK140 Trim: DHC Body Style: Convertible Stock 20128 Transmission: Manual Exterior Color: Prim Rose Yello Interior Color: Burgundy

    • Year: 1957
    For sale
    $97,500(£0) $97,500(£0)
    Gullwing Motor Cars
    718-545-0500  View contact number
  • 1957 Jaguar XK140 MC Roadster

    POA POA

    As the XK120 came to a production close in 1954 and the XK140 was offered to the world. Jaguar offered not only the possibility of a 20MPH increase in top speed as the name suggests, but a lot more in the way of track technology for the road. As the C-Type evolved into the D-Type the XK140 benefited from numerous performance upgrades over its predecessor but the best of all was the MC (or SE in Europe) option. While the XK140 received better suspension in general, upgraded brakes, more interior space and slight exterior changes, the MC option boasted maximum performance for the enthusiasts who wanted a quick road car, or even a car to take to the track as a privateer entrant which many did. The MC option gave customers 210HP as opposed to the regular 190HP, thicker torsion bars, wire wheels, dual exhaust, and of course the infamous C-Type Head with bigger valves and more compression. The ultimate gentleman’s racer of the period, the 140 could be outfitted in numerous colors and a variety of additional options were available. The example on offer here, a 1957 Jaguar XK140 MC, Chassis # S813021DN, according to its JDHT Certificate was delivered to a Mr. Patrick W. Moore of New York,

    • Year: 1957
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Jaguar XK140 3,4 190

    €94,600(£0) €94,600(£0)

    Jaguar XK140 3,4 190 Equipment: Meget sjælden eksemplar Fuld Historie Matching numbers en af de mest originale biler vi har haft på lager dette unikke eksemplar skal ses ring for info

    • Year: 1956
    For sale
    €94,600(£0) €94,600(£0)
  • 1954 JAGUAR XK140 Roadster

    POA POA

    This XK 140 Roadster was manufactured December 21 st 1954 and was sold to Jaguar dealer’s Max Hoffer in NYC in January 1955. Although little is known of this car’s early years, the previous owner managed to acquire this vehicle which was in generally sound and original condition, having dismissed many other cars, choosing this rare and beautiful roadster. Upon returning to the UK, it was decided to restore the car. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 32.000 £ have been spent on the car. The car is now in superb condition, painted in Silver with a Maroon leather interior, hood and tonneau cover. UK registration, Jaguar Heritage Certificate and many invoices comes with the car.

    • Mileage: 27580 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1956 Jaguar XK-140 MC 3.4 DHC

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This beautiful, matching numbers, XK-140 SE DHC has been well cared for with recent service receipts. This Jaguar shows wonderful patina throughout. This is a limited ownership DHC with the second owner owning the car for over 40 years! The recent owner kept all of the receipts for the vehicle. This XK is a very spacious in leg room and comfort. It has been exercised regularly and runs like a champ. It’s equipped with four brand new wide radial white wall tires and a full size spare, this lovely car is ready to be driven and enjoyed. It features a beautiful wood dash with full functional instrumentation. This 140 DHC is accompanied by a Jaguar Heritage Certificate of authenticity and licensed with California Historical Plates. This DHC is a rare example and is highly collectable.

    • Year: 1956
    • Mileage: 67841 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1957 Jaguar XK-140 Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) Our vehicle is in good overall condition and well cared for, and drives very well. It has an interesting history, and has very good interior, paint and chrome. This XK is an older restoration, has had a recent engine head rebuild, and a recent complete service. This vehicle does not need to be restored, it is a good driver as is. Classic Showcase, Inc. did not restore this vehicle. We did, however, take this XK on a recent outing to a British Car Event. We drove it about 70 miles round trip. This 1957 Jaguar XK-140 ran splendidly at 65-70 mph on the freeway and handles superbly on country roads throughout the whole trip. This turn key Jaguar XK-140 is ready for its new home. Comes with a convertible top, tonneau cover, and removable side curtains

    • Year: 1957
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1955 Jaguar XK-140 3.4 MC FHC

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This beautiful 1955 XK-140 MC Fixed Head Coupe is finished in an elegant Imperial Maroon with a Biscuit leather interior. It has recently undergone a professional, bare-metal, three-year rotisserie restoration, sparing no attention to detail. During the restoration process, the XK-140 received original or factory-correct components, including the original Lucas J headlights, driving lights, Wilton wool carpets, and English leather seats. In addition, the Fixed Head Coupe comes equipped with very nice upgrades including a Ron Davis aluminum radiator, an electric fan, and a full stainless steel exhaust, making it ready for long touring. While the engine head is the original C-Type MC-specification head that came with the car, the block was updated to a XK150 for improved performance. This XK-140 is sure to allow for grand touring reaching an effortless cruise of 80 mph. This beautiful Jaguar is fun to drive, great for touring, and can be competitive in showing.

    • Year: 1955
    • Mileage: 3280 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1957 Jaguar XK-140 MC OTS

    POA POA

    (SOLD) Mechanical: engine fully rebuilt w/ new pistons, bearings, valves, guides, seals, timing chain, head completely rebuilt, rebuilt carburetors, clutch, all new brakes with neoprene bushings, drive shaft balanced, new adjustable front and rear shocks, chassis and many other parts powder coated, new suspension, under carriage fully rebuilt, new wire harness, gas tank restored and epoxy sealed, rebuilt fuel pump, all electrical components, gauges, knobs, switches rebuilt, rescreened, all instruments rebuilt, replaced stone guards, new custom exhaust system with headers, rear end completely rebuilt with upgrades as well as the transmission. Body & Interior: Body stripped to bare metal finishing and finished on rotisserie, doors, bonnets and boot fit to body, epoxy sealed and painted, color sanded and buffed all, new rubber, seals, grommets and gaskets, trim and bright work replaced or replated, new leather seats, carpet, panels, dash, headliner, etc. Restore the convertible top bows, install a new convertible top, and a new boot for convertible top, new exhaust system, a new battery, restore instruments; 5 new tires and wire wheels. It has performance upgraded, bored with larger p

    • Year: 1957
    • Mileage: 100 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1956 Jaguar-Projects XK-140 SE 3.4 FHC

    POA POA

    *This car is for sale as a Classic Showcase restoration, equal to our driver/show-driver/show restoration levels. Please see our restoration page for further information. This highly original numbers-matching XK-140 SE was built in June of 1956, and delivered new to Louis R. Emme at the US Embassy in Oslo, Norway. Known by the current owner for more than a decade, the XK-140 SE has been kept in storage for many years, and is in very appealing and honest condition maintaining a high degree of originality throughout. The coupe is straight and free of any major corrosion issues. The vehicle will need servicing to make it road ready. With it's highly stylish design and Special Equipment package, this fixed head coupe stands as a highly desirable and original model that is a great candidate for restoration!

    • Year: 1956
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Jaguar XK140

    £155,000 £155,000

    1955 Jaguar XK140 Roadster This car is probably the most original XK140 Roadster in the world. It has less than 22,000 recorded miles from new and is a great testament to the original owner, who cared for and maintained the car for more than 46 years. The first owner, Rene Savoie, ordered the car namely Jaguar XK140SE in the beautiful combination of Suede Green exterior with Suede Green leather and it was dispatched to Massachusetts on the 18th February 1955. Mr Savoie reluctantly sold the car when he could no longer physically drive it and it passed to his long time property manager, at the time of sale the recorded mileage was just 20,000. Over the last eight years, the car has been part of a collection of highly original unrestored sports cars. The recorded mileage today shows 21,958 miles. The body and structure are in remarkable condition with very good panel gaps. The engine bay is excellent with the original chassis plate attached and the correct C-Type cylinder head fitted. Even the original cheney hose clips are still in place. The interior is also in remarkable condition along with the original carpets and door casings and we are currently feeding the leather to improve its suppleness. A full tonneau cover is included, which again is in remarkable condition. This is a unique opportunity to acquire a wonderfully preserved Jaguar XK140 Roadster in the best specification.

    • Year: 1955
    • Mileage: 21958 mi
    • Engine size: 3.4
    For sale
    £155,000 £155,000