1955 Jaguar XK140 Drophead Coupe
The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley. In 1934 Lyons formed SS Cars Limited to effectively take over the operation from Walmsley. The SS brand was quite successful; though they had a reputation for having ‘more show than go’. The Jaguar name first appeared as a model name on an SS 2½ Litre Sports Saloon introduced in 1936. For political reasons, Lyons changed the name of his company to Jaguar Cars in 1945.
Whilst the SS100 is indeed a fabulous car, it was the launch of the legendary Jaguar XK120 at the London Motor Show in 1948 that really put Jaguar on the map. The car caused a sensation, which persuaded Jaguar founder and design boss William Lyons to put it into production. The “120” in its name referred to its 120 mph top speed, which made the XK120 the world’s fastest production car in its day. It was available in two open versions, first as the roadster (designated OTS, for open two-seater), then also as a drophead coupe (DHC) from 1953. The car was also available as a closed or fixed head coupe (FHC) from 1951.
The XK120 was succeeded by the XK140 which was launched in late 1954 and sold through until 1957. Whilst the XK140 looked similar to the XK120 there were in fact many subtle and indeed important differences. The XK140 featured a more spacious cabin and had improved brakes, suspension and steering. Visually the car had American style bumpers with overriders, a different grille (that had fewer, thicker vertical bars), a chrome strip on the bonnet & boot and an emblem “Jaguar Winner Le Mans 1951-3” on the boot.
The final iteration of the XK was the XK150 that was released in 1957. Whilst its family resemblance to its forbearers is obvious the XK150 was in fact a very different car. Most noticeable was the change to a one piece windscreen and the smoother ‘wing line’ from the front to the rear of the car. Cabin space was significantly improved making the XK150 a far more comfortable car to drive. Mechanically the first XK150’s were similar to the XK140’s, however, an ‘SE’ variant with a modified cylinder head giving more power and an ‘S’ variant with triple SU carburettors giving even more power were soon available. In 1959 engine capacity was increased from 3.4 litres to 3.8 litres.
Like the XK120 both the XK140 and XK150 were offered in three body styles being the roadster, drophead coupe and fixed head coupe.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1955 Jaguar XK140 SE Drophead Coupe.
The Heritage Certificate on file confirms this car was manufactured on the 12th January 1955 and dispatched on 25th January 1955 to the dealer Hornburg in Los Angeles, USA. The car was originally finished in pearl grey with a black interior and red piping.
This is a desirable SE model XK140, as confirmed by the ‘S’ prefix on the chassis number. This car is fitted with the factory C-Type cylinder head as confirmed by the ‘S’ suffix on the engine number. It is confirmed as having ‘matching’ chassis, engine and body numbers.
Unfortunately, the early history of this car in the USA is not known. The car was purchased by the previous to current owner from Peter Marina Motors in Venice Beach, California, USA in February 1989. The car was subsequently shipped to Fremantle in Western Australia. When the car arrived in Australia it was in need of some TLC and its new owner immediately embarked on a nut and bolt restoration. Jaguar specialists Roadbend, in Perth, Western Australia were entrusted with the job. The restoration took a number of years to complete. There is a photo book on file showing the various stages of the restoration which included body, paint, interior and full mechanicals. The car was registered in Western Australia in April 1992.
There is documentation on file showing the car participated in the Concours d’Elegance at the 1993 National Jaguar Rally in Adelaide, hosted by the Jaguar Driver’s Club of South Australia. Over the next 7 years the car was used sporadically. When the current owner acquired the car in 2000 it had travelled only c4,000 miles since it was restored. The car joined a fabulous collection of early British classics and has only travelled another c5,000 miles in just over 20 years of ownership.
Today the odometer reads 9,017 miles, which is understood to be the mileage travelled since the car was restored.
Whilst this car is now an older restoration, it still presents really well. The black paint work is in good condition with the odd stone chip and small blemish evident here and there. The most noticeable defect is a small scrape on the very bottom of the driver’s side door. The black paint, which suits this XK perfectly, still carries a high gloss with a strong depth of colour. All the external trim is in good condition. The chrome work, including the wire wheels, presents exceptionally well and it is a real feature of this car. It provides a striking contrast with the black paintwork.
Inside the cabin, the car equally as well presented. Everything remains fresh, including the grey upholstery which is in excellent condition. The timber is beautifully presented and in good condition. The instruments and controls are particularly crisp and clean and everything looks to be in working order, including the overdrive. The carpet is in good condition, though there is some slight wear and light marks here and there. The boot looks to have been sparingly used, if at all. There is an unused spare wheel, jack, grease gun and tool kit under the boot floor.
The car was obviously restored to an exceptionally high standard and been very well maintained ever since. As a result it drives superbly today. On our recent test drive the car started easily and the engine immediately settled into a smooth idle. Once out on the open road first impressions were really positive. There is loads of power on tap and the engine pulls strongly through the rev range. The Moss gearbox might take a little while to get used to, but once you do, it is very easy to use and the gear changes are direct and precise. This XK handled, steered and stopped as one would expect.
At Oldtimer Australia we have sold plenty of Jaguar XK120’s, XK140’s and XK150’s over the years and there’s no doubt this particular example is in one of the best.
It is a real pleasure to be able to offer for sale such a well presented Jaguar XK140 SE Drophead Coupe that is an absolute delight to drive.
Accompanying the car is a Heritage Certificate, a thick history file, including restoration receipts and photos as well as subsequent receipts for maintenance and service work.
- Matching numbers example as confirmed by the Heritage Certificate.
- Desirable SE spec XK140 Drophead Coupe with the C-type cylinder head.
- STUNNING colour combination.
- Beautifully resented car ready to use and enjoy.
- Jaguar XK140 Drophead Coupe
- 9,017 miles