1959 Jaguar XK150S 3.8 Litre 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 coupé (DHC) from 1953. The car was also available as a closed or fixed head coupé (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” also 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. The very first XK150’s with the 3.4 litre engine fitted produced 190hp. With the increase in engine size the amount of horsepower also grew. The top-of-the-line XK150S 3.8 was fitted with triple SU HD8 carburettors and it produced 265hp. The same amount of horsepower as the later E-types.
Like the XK120 both the XK140 and XK150 were offered in three body style being the roadster, drop head coupe and fixed head coupe.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a rare, unique and extremely collectable 1959 Jaguar XK150S Fixed Head Coupe. This car is a genuine factory right hand drive 3.8 litre ‘S’ and it is 1 of only 111 cars built in this configuration. It also has a mechanical overdrive which is extremely rare. It is understood that Jaguar built only 40 cars with mechanical overdrive.
The Heritage Certificate on file confirms this car was manufactured on the 20th November 1959 and delivered on the 7th December 1959. Henlys London is mentioned as the original distributor and Philip Richards Ltd, Park Lane, London W1 is mentioned as the original dealer. The first owner was BH Dees and the car was first registered as VJJ399, issued in London. The car was originally delivered in ‘pearl grey’ with a blue interior.
Interestingly, this XK150S has had an engine change at some stage very early in its life. The car is fitted with a correct XK150S engine, but according to the Heritage Certificate it is not the engine the car initially left the factory with. Extensive research on the origin of the engine currently fitted in the car has been done by both the current and previous owner of the car. That research involved discussions with some very well known Jaguar XK specialists in Australia and they all came to the same conclusion. The engine currently fitted in the car was completed approximately 6 months after the car was built and it was never fitted to any other XK150S. Therefore, it must have been a factory replacement and it must have been installed in the car very early in its life. It is most likely that the engine was changed under warranty and within the first 6 months of the car having been manufactured.
Not much more is known about the subsequent five years of the car’s existence in the UK. It is understood that this car found its way to Australia very early in its life. It was first registered in New South Wales in 1965. The previous owner completed extensive research on the car and was able to create a list of owners dating back to 1966 when the car was owned by Mr Rowsell of Kingswood in New South Wales. The car’s registration was cancelled in November 1975. At that time the car was owned by Mr Robert Graeme Wicks from Parramatta, east of Sydney in New South Wales. There is correspondence on file suggesting that Mr Wicks took the car of the road with the intention to restore it. That never happened and for the next 10 years the car sat in Wicks’ garage. John Pike became aware of the XK150 and he subsequently purchased the car and took it back to Canberra to start the restoration process. There is a detailed write up in the file listing all the work completed at that time. There is also a photo album with the car containing lots of period photos of the car as found by Pike.
The previous owner purchased this Jaguar XK150S Fixed Head Coupe in 2014. At that time the car presented well cosmetically, but he thought it ‘could be better’ mechanically. As a retired motor mechanic this presented a fun project for him. He stripped the car and contacted Jaguar specialist Peninsular Jag in Kooralbyn, south west of Brisbane to assess the engine. There is a report on file, which was generally very positive and they commented “ . . . they were pleasantly surprised to see how good the engine still was”. That said, they did recommend rebuilding it. The go ahead was given and the engine was completely rebuilt with new 9:1 +20 pistons, new valves & valve guides, new bearings etc. All the reciprocating engine parts were balanced to make sure the engine would run as smoothly as possible when reinstalled in the car. Other mechanical works completed, included: the suspension, cooling system, gearbox and overdrive were overhauled, the brakes were overhauled and the front brakes were upgraded with new bigger 4 pot callipers and more.
The previous owner wanted a car he could use all year round, even on a hot summers day in Brisbane, so the decision was made to install modern air conditioning in the car. There are various options for installing air conditioning in a Jaguar XK150, but the previous owner didn’t want to spoil the look of that classic dashboard by adding an aftermarket under dash system. After a lot of searching, he found the perfect solution, an air conditioning unit which could be installed behind the seats. The end result is subtle and it blows ice cold air.
This car has an incredible history file and there are lots of documents and receipts from the period of his ownership. This shows the level of detail and the effort he went through to make this Jaguar XK150S a very useable and reliable car. The fact that he drove the car from Brisbane to Tasmania, participated in the Targa Tasmania Tour in 2015 and then drove it back to Brisbane via the Great Ocean Road without any issues demonstrates he definitely achieved his goal.
This Jaguar XK150S Fixed Head is also documented in the book: The Jaguar XK in Australia (1985) by John Elmgreen and Terry McGrath.
It is well known to us at Oldtimer Australia. We sold the car to the current owner in April 2021. When he acquired the car it had some minor paint defects on the bonnet which he had repaired by GT Motors in Bowen Hills. Shortly after that the car was ceramic coated to provide ongoing protection to the paint. Since acquiring the car, he has thoroughly enjoyed owning it and travelled approximately 1,300 miles in that time. He has a bucket list and now he has his eyes on another car which unfortunately means the XK150S has to go.
Today this XK150S presents exceptionally well. It is finished in a shade of ‘Cotswold blue’, a colour that really suits this car perfectly and complements its elegant appearance. Whilst the car carries an older cosmetic restoration, the paint work still present beautifully. It is still in very good condition, has a strong depth of colour and a deep gloss finish. You have to look very closely to find a stone chip or any other defect. The exterior trim presents similarly well. The chrome work is in very good condition with a mirror like finsh. The glass is all in good condition and the same can be said of all the badges on the car. The wire wheels are still looking good though some of the wheel spinners are starting to show their age. The wire wheels are shod with Vredestein Sprint Classic 186HR16 tyres which are still in good condition, but they are date stamped week 18 2012 and should probably be replaced in the near future.
The red interior perfectly contrasts the exterior colour of ‘Cotswold blue’, The presentation of the interior is consistent with exterior of the car. It is lovely! The upholstery is all in very good condition. The leather is supple and there are no rips or tears to the seats, which are very comfortable and provide ample support. The car is fitted with a seat belt harness which can be used with all four belts or just as a lap belt. The rear ‘seats’, door cards, dash and carpets also present very well. The instruments are in excellent condition and on our recent test drive they were all in perfect working order. As noted above, the air conditioning blows cold air.
There is no doubt a Jaguar XK150 is visually a stunning car, however, these cars are also fabulous to drive. A Jaguar XK150S is another level again! The driving experience starts the moment you have familiarised yourself with the car and have found that comfortable driving position. You insert the key into the ignition, turn it to turn it on, then wait a few seconds for the fuel pump to prime the triple SU carburettors, pull the button to activate the choke and press the starter button. The engine fires up pretty much at first crank and first impressions are immediately good. The engine sounds very healthy and only needs to run on choke for a very short time. As soon as you turn the choke off the engine immediately settles into a smooth idle and you are ready to take the car out for a drive.
Out on the open road is where this Jaguar XK150S belongs and that’s where you really start to appreciate this car. The engine revs willingly and there is plenty of power on tap. 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. The car is surprisingly fast and will give you a decent push back in the seat under hard acceleration. Before you realise it, you’re in fourth gear and you are approaching the speed limit. For the longer drives this car is equipped with a unique mechanical overdrive. The lever to activate the overdrive is positioned just in front of the gear lever and is very easy to use. The overdrive works perfectly on this car. Once you find some back roads you really get to appreciate the balance and handling of this car. The steering is direct and this classic cat just sticks to the road. The car feels really solid and there are no squeaks or rattles. When needed the upgraded front brake callipers make sure the car stops quickly and in a very controlled way.
This car just goes about its business with that that typical British stiff upper lip, but in a very refined manner at the same time!
At Oldtimer Australia we have sold plenty of Jaguar XK120’s, XK140’s and XK150’s over the years. After a few short miles behind the wheel of this car, we reach the conclusion that is the best driving XK we have ever had through the door. It has loads of power on tap, is tight on the road, it sounds fabulous, the gearbox is surprisingly smooth and all up it provides an all encompassing driving experience to stimulate all the senses.
As noted above, the current owner has had a ball with this car, however, he is looking for a new adventure so we are now looking for its next custodian.
It is not often a Jaguar XK150S 3.8 Litre Fixed Head Coupe is offered for sale, let alone a car of this calibre.
- Factory right hand drive example.
- One of only 111 examples ever produced.
- Equipped with a unique mechanical overdrive fitted to only 40 of the 111 examples.
- Jaguar Heritage Certificate on file.
- Excellent history file, with extensive documentation of all the work done.
- Just a STUNNING car in every regard.
- Jaguar XK150S 3.8 Litre Fixed Head Coupe
- 12,367 miles