Courtesy of Bonhams
Launched in 1954, the Jaguar XK 140 was broadly similar to — although more refined than — its sensational XK 120 predecessor. The major engineering changes were confined to the repositioning of the engine three inches farther forward and the adoption of rack-and-pinion steering as used on the racing C-type. The suspension and brakes remained much as before, though with stiffer torsion bars at the front and telescopic shock absorbers replacing the previous lever type at the rear. Like its forebear, the XK 140 was built in three model types: roadster, coupe and drophead coupe, the latter two offering usefully increased cabin space and occasional rear seats. Outwardly, the newcomer was distinguishable by its revised radiator grille, rear lights incorporating flashing indicators, and larger bumpers — the latter adopted to withstand the cut and thrust of urban parking. XK 140 performance was well up to the standards set by its exemplary predecessor, contemporary magazine road-tests regularly recording top-speed figures in excess of 120 mph. Tested by Road & Trackmagazine, a USA-specification XK 140 MC (as the C-type head-equipped SE version was known there) recorded a 0–60 mph time of 8.4 seconds on the way to a top speed of 121.1 mph. This stunning Jaguar XK 140 roadster was built at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory quite early on in the production run. The new Jaguar was configured with a left-hand-drive steering arrangement, and most likely was delivered new to the booming North American sports-car market. A comprehensive restoration has been performed, and the roadster presents in lovely condition inside and out. The exterior is finished in striking red, over a correct Biscuit and red two-tone interior. Appropriate Lucas driving lights are fitted up front, and beautiful chrome wire wheels wrapped with whitewall tires are present. This fine Jaguar is ready to use on rallies and driving events such as the Copperstate 1000 or California Mille, or be shown at local concours d’elegance events, where it would be sure to attract much attention.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 Jaguar XK 140 MC Roadster
Years Produced:1954–57
Number Produced:3,347
Original List Price:$4,090
SCM Valuation:$137,500
Tune Up Cost:$450
Distributor Caps:$20
Chassis Number Location:Data plate on firewall
Engine Number Location:Right side of block
Club Info:Jaguar Club of North America
Alternatives:1955–56 Austin-Healey 100M, 1954–63 Mercedes-Benz 190SL, 1950–55 Porsche 356
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 143, sold at Bonhams’ Amelia Island Auction for $91,840, including buyer’s commission, on March 8, 2018.

At first glance, this XK 140 seems to be in fantastic shape, with almost no mileage on the obviously reset odometer. It’s almost too nice to be real, with a bright, shiny engine, good panel fit and glistening chrome.

In terms of equipment, capabilities and relative driving comfort, there is no better choice in the Jaguar XK lineup than an XK 140 MC.

The distinctive post-war styling is almost unchanged from the first XK 120, but the XK 140’s improvements — especially the extra three inches in the cockpit, the improved steering wheel and pedal positions, and the additional power of the bigger engine with C-type head — make it the apex of the model series for touring enjoyment.

The MC in the title of our subject car means that it got the C-type head, along with wire wheels, crankshaft damper, dual exhaust, fog lights and windshield washers.

Where has it been and what has it done?

However, notably lacking in this description is any discussion of the specific provenance of this car. There’s not even any mention of the identity of the owner who authorized the restoration.

This omission suggests that this car was found in poor-but-restorable condition by a shop that specializes in restoring XKs as efficiently but inexpensively as possible. The car would then immediately go to auction for a sufficient amount to make a reasonable profit in return for the parts and labor costs invested.

Small clues can be seen throughout, such as the modern Sport Coil rather than an original version, and whitewalls to catch the eye of bidders when blackwalls would have been more typical in its day. This car should be fun to drive, but it is not likely to attract much attention among the Jaguar-show crowd.

Still, a good buy for a great tourer

That having been said, if the new owner knows what he or she is getting into, has another $15,000 or so at the ready to correct the surprises that might show up, and has a knowledgeable Jaguar mechanic who understands the breed, the decision to be the last bidder with a paddle up may be a rational one.

With that awareness and the funds to back it up, the new owner can have the mechanic thoroughly check every single system in the car to make sure that it works properly and there aren’t any hidden flaws in panels, or structural members that might break down on the road.

The smart thing to do will be to treat the car as if it was just freshly restored, taking it out for a series of longer and longer drives — with the mechanic along and within a short distance from the shop — before ever throwing the luggage in the boot to undertake one of the weeklong tours for which this car is obviously being purchased.

If that’s done, the car was well bought at this price and should return a lot of enjoyment until the owner is ready to move on to their next bucket-list car. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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