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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
69950 179500 GBP
  • 1956 Jaguar XK140 MC Roadster

    $179,500(£0) $179,500(£0)

    Jaguar chose an evolutionary approach when replacing its groundbreaking XK120. It was, after all, the car that truly established Jaguar as a mainstream manufacturer and one that spurred a sports car revolution in Europe and America, so there wasn’t much that needed to be altered. When the XK 120 first hit the streets in 1948 it was the first proper sports car from Jaguar since the pre-war SS100. 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 XK120 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 XK120 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, cementing Jaguar’s reputation as a premier sports car manufacturer. Rather than mess with a good thing, Jaguar made numerous refinements to create the new XK140. The same beautiful lines were retained, with subtle refinements to the bumpers and body trim. The engine was moved forward by three inches to address complaints of cramped accommodations and the standard engine was now the 190 horsepower version of the 3.4 liter inline six, with the return of the MC option and its 210 horsepower output. Straight line performance was about the same as the XK120, 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 with the XK120 before, the OTS roadster (open two-seater) remains the most desirable with collectors and enthusiasts, thanks to its clean, uncluttered look and raw, exciting performance. This beautiful XK140 OTS is a highly desirable “MC” model, equipped from new with dual exhausts, wire wheels and the free-breathing C-Type cylinder head. A numbers-matching example, this car was sold new on February 18th 1956 to Harold Hagy of Arlington Virginia for $3,552. A copy of the original sales invoice from Henry Miller Motors, Inc of Washington, DC lists the ID number of S811154DN. The “S” prefix indicates this as a special equipment model and the “DN” suffix shows it was factory equipped with the Laycock de Normanville electric overdrive unit. Photos of the car prior to restoration show it was delivered in what appears to be Mist Gray over a tan interior with a fawn top. Mr. Hagy lovingly cared for the XK140 in his time with it, amassing fewer than 20,000 miles in his 34 year tenure. In 1990, Harold Hagy sold his treasured XK140 to Richard E. Williams, a veteran car collector and enthusiast known for his extensive collection of early Fords. Correspondence in the history file shows the car had just 19,640 original miles when Mr. Williams acquired it. Photos taken in 1990 show it to be in very tidy and straight condition, though the original paint was described as being tired. Mr. Williams subsequently had the car repainted in a very attractive shade of British Racing Green and restored the tan leather interior. Chrome wire wheels were fitted and the car was mechanically sorted and extensively detailed. It was enjoyed by Richard Williams until his passing, when ownership was transferred to his son Charles, of Darien, CT. Charles would continue to care for and enjoy the Jaguar for several more years before it passed to its most recent owner, an avid collector of significant Jaguar cars. Currently showing only 27,040 miles, the XK140 remains in truly outstanding condition. The body is in fine order with very good panel alignment and lovely paintwork. It has been exceptionally well maintained and detailed to a very high standard by its most recent owner. It retains its original matching-numbers engine and C-Type cylinder head. It is also still equipped as it was when new with the Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit. The interior was restored in conjunction with the body, and it remains in very fine order with supple Biscuit leather seats that show light creasing and present with a pleasing, inviting character. Original instruments and switches remain in place, as well as the factory supplied tools, jack, and grease gun. Unlike the more posh drophead coupe, the OTS featured a simple disappearing soft top with removable side curtains. This car’s Stayfast canvas top is excellent, and the side curtains have been recently restored. The sliding Perspex side windows are still covered in their protective paper, so they are fresh and free from scuffs. The 3.4 liter inline six is exquisitely detailed, with the correct bright red cylinder head paint that was unique to the C-Type engines. An electric power-assisted steering system has been discreetly integrated into the column, which takes the effort out of low-speed maneuvering but maintains the excellent steering feel once underway. In addition, a slightly smaller diameter steering wheel is fitted for greater comfort and improved driver access. The original wheel will be included. Well-equipped with numerous desirable options and with documented 3-owner history, this sorted and beautifully presented XK140 MC is ready to enjoy on tours, rallies or in local concours events.

    For sale
    $179,500(£0) $179,500(£0)
    Hyman Ltd
    314-524-6000 View contact number
  • Jaguar - XK140 DHC- 1956

    €105,001 - €136,501.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €105,001 - €136,501.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Online Auction
    €105,001 - €136,501.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.) €105,001 - €136,501.30 est. (£0 - £0 est.)
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
  • 1955 Jaguar XK140 SE FHC

    £69,995 £69,995

    We are pleased to offer this highly upgraded XK140 Special Equipment onto the market. This is a car ideal for regular use or long distance touring and has been equipped with many expensive upgrades that today would cost in the region of £20,000 supplied and fitted. This Jaguar XK has travelled well, starting life in the USA being distributed by Hoffman, New York. The XK was dispatched on the 29th August 1955 and was first owned by an Alberta Steele. In later years the XK was shipped over to Australia and in 2010 subject of a major refurbishment programme and range of impressive upgrades. This XK140 has been fitted with a five speed gearbox and power steering that really enhance the driving experience. Disc brakes have been fitted all round to improve brake efficiency and air-conditioning is in place to improve comfort inside the car. On arrival, this was checked and blows ice cold, certainly something that would be welcomed during summer months and particularly if considering some overseas long distance touring. Further upgrades include an electric boot release, wider wheels with radial tyres and uprated cooling system. Whilst in Australia the Jaguar was also converted to right han

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
    £69,995 £69,995
  • 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
  • Jaguar XK140 FHC 1956

    €69,950(£0) €69,950(£0)

    Jaguar XK 140 FHC 1956, 5 speed gearbox and disc brakes This elegant burgundy red Jaguar XK 140 Fixed Head Coupe was built in 1956 and in the mean time a little adjusted for historical rallies. This Jaguar has been provided with fortified wire wheels and a Roll Bar (easy to remove if you want). The wooden dashboard has two time-original Halda Tripmasters. The matching numbers 3442CC engine has bigger carburators and 5 speed gearbox. This sporty Jaguar has disc brakes also. This unique XK140 is ideal for fans of classic rally of een very beautiful basis for rebuilding to its original specifications. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1956
    For sale
    €69,950(£0) €69,950(£0)
  • 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