1956 Jaguar XK140 Fixed Head 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 1956 Jaguar XK140 SE Fixed Head Coupe. 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 numbers’ chassis, engine (block and cylinder head) and body numbers.
This particular car is a UK delivered, factory right hand drive example. According to the Jaguar Heritage Certificate on file this particular car was completed on the 30th April 1956 and despatched on the 16th May 1956 through Henleys in London. It was delivered to Naomi Cotton from Bournemouth who first registered the car as NC140. Interestingly, our research shows that in 1957 she bought an XK150 SE FHC 3.4 and transferred the registration of NC140 to that car. Then in 1960 she purchased an Aston Martin DB4. She must have been quite a wealthy lady! The XK140 was originally finished in British racing green with a biscuit piped suede green interior. The heritage certificate also specifies this car was delivered with a 4-speed manual close ratio gearbox with overdrive.
Not much more is known about the early history of the car. From the UK Vehicle Registration Document (V5) we do know the car only had two registered owners in the UK from 1984 until when the current owner purchased the car in the UK in July 2001. He purchased the car from Chapel End Cars at Nuneaton and subsequently imported it into Australia. There is an Import Approval on file dated 15th August 2001.
When the car arrived in Australia it was in a fairly poor condition. The owner contacted Jaguar specialist Mike Roddy Motors in Melbourne to discuss options for restoring the car. In the end he decided to ‘do it properly’ and embarked on a frame off restoration. Mike Roddy disassembled the car and took care of all the mechanicals. The body work and painting were entrusted to Peter Denny at Stylerod Panels in Kilsyth, Victoria. All chrome work was done by Classic Chrome in Geelong. The owner sourced a lot of new parts from well known Jaguar part suppliers like Guy Broad in the UK, XK Unlimited in the US and Jagdaim in Melbourne. All in all, it took over 10 years to complete the project. Once completed the car was stunning, however, it is great to see it did not become a trailer queen! Yes this car was pampered but it was also used and enjoyed and it has travelled some 12,000 miles since it was restored. The car was restored as original except for the addition of a cooling system header tank and thermal fan which more than copes with the Australian summer. The globes in the tail lights have been replaced with LED boards, imported from the USA, so they are now highly visible even in direct sunlight. It also has a stainless steel exhaust system with the mufflers an exact copy of the originals.
Today the car presents and drives superbly. The exterior presents exceptionally well and the interior still presents like new. The paintwork is excellent and it still has a good depth of colour and a high gloss finish. There are a few very minor blemishes here and there, but we’re being fussy! All the external trim and the chrome work are in good condition, as is all the glass. The wire wheels are a feature and all in good condition on this car. The car is fitted with Kuhmo P215/70R16 radial tyres all round. The interior of this car is just stunning. The leather remains soft and supple and in excellent condition, belying the 12,000 miles travelled since the restoration was completed. The timber work is lovely and even the carpets are in excellent unmarked condition. All of the instruments and controls present well and are in working order. Purists will note the bank of non original switches to the right of the steering column which operate the windscreen washers, thermos fan, overdrive, horn, drive lights and choke.
So how does this Jaguar XK140 perform out on the road? Time to find out . . . turn on the ignition – check, flick the switch for the choke – check, wait a few seconds for the fuel pump to feed some fuel in the carburettors – check . . . the car starts easily at the first push of the starter button. Once you have started the car it only needs the choke for a few more seconds before you can turn it off and the car will settle into an easy idle. The 3.4 litre engine in this XK140 is incredibly smooth. That said, once you blip the throttle the car has ‘an edge’ and you can feel that it just begs to be driven. So let’s go! Out on the open road this car is just a delight to drive and it has a real presence about it. As noted above, the engine is smooth, so too are gear changes (yes it still has its original Moss box!) and there are no nasty rattles or squeaks to be heard. Everything looks to be in working order and this car is one of the best driving XK’s we have experienced.
The restoration has stood the test of time which is a credit to Mike Roddy and his team and of course its current owner.
Accompanying the car is a Heritage Certificate, an excellent history file, restoration receipts & photos, an owner’s manual, parts manual and other miscellaneous documentation. There is also a spare wheel, jacking tools and grease gun, which are all ‘as new’ in the boot.
This Jaguar XK140 SE Fixed Head Coupe’s current mature owner has made the difficult decision to sell. Therefore, the car is now looking for its next custodian.
- A factory right hand drive, fully matching numbers example.
- Desirable SE specification XK140 with the C-type cylinder head.
- Full frame off restoration by Jaguar Specialist Mike Roddy Motors.
- Just a wonderful car that still presents and drives exceptionally well.
There are XK’s and there are XK’s . . . this car is one of the best!
- Jaguar XK140
- Fixed Head Coupe
- 11,391 miles