|Vehicle:||1959 Jaguar XK 150 S 3.8 roadster|
|Original List Price:||$5,120 in 1959|
|Tune Up Cost:||$300|
|Chassis Number Location:||On firewall|
|Engine Number Location:||Right of block in front of Jaguar logo|
This car, Lot 117, sold for $323,891, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Salon Privé sale at Syon Park in West London, U.K., on June 23, 2011.
This car’s sale figure makes it one of the most valuable XK 150s, if not the priciest, ever sold at auction. RM claims a record, and we’ve no reason to dispute that. Our subject car is the ultimate evolution of the XK series, and the most sought-after 150, as it is the last stop before the E-type.
Our car is rare as well, as one of just 36 3.8S roadsters (or, correctly, Open Two Seaters) built; it is one of 24 Special Equipment cars, and it is said to have never been restored.
The XK 150 replaced the 140 in 1957, using the same 3,442-cc DOHC straight-six that first appeared in the XK 120 in 1948, producing 190 horsepower. The S version on triple SUs knocked out 250 horsepower. When the motor was enlarged to 3,781 cc in 1959, standard power output was 220 horsepower, with an alleged 265 horsepower — same as the first E-type, although it’s doubtful they ever made this much. Equipped with the triple-carb S version of the 3,781-cc engine, this 3,251-pound car was good for 141mph and 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds.
Not restored — but well-kept
Open Two Seaters have always been the most elegant and sought-after Jaguar roadsters, and by the time the XK 150 came along with its curved windshield and higher flanks, the soft top actually kept you warm, dry and relatively quiet.
The body is straight, with pretty good door fit for an XK, but the repaint (said to be cellulose from 1970, although it looks much more like a recent blowover) is slightly disappointing, with a few cracks, and the front bumper is lightly scratched.
The interior looks newer and in good order, and it is claimed to be original. The mechanicals have been fettled and rebuilt over the years by various marque specialists — there are JD Classics stickers on the brake calipers. The motor, tidy but not overdone, was last out in 2010. Following an earlier engine rebuild by Cambridge Motorsport, this car successfully completed the Classic Adelaide rally in Australia in 2000.
As a price comparison, the last big-money XK 150S to change hands at auction in the U.K. was a Condition 1-, 1960 car sold by Coys at Woodstock on July 18, 2009, for $175,470 (SCM# 130786). We described this car as: “Really nice, well-kept example of the ultimate XK spec, with overdrive and a lightly tweaked motor. Restored by leading Jag specialist. Body and doors straight, chrome all good, leather just taking on a bit of character.”
The SCM verdict was: “This was the right money for a really top example with no needs, so the price paid can be considered a fair deal both ways.”
Our featured car wasn’t quite as nice, but on the plus side was the nice, original registration number, which was probably worth a few thousand by itself. English numbers stay with their cars for life, unless transferred, and the XK roadster’s correct factory designation is Open Two Seater, so it fits nicely. Furthermore, it came with an Operating, Maintenance and Service book signed by then Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons, plus a Heritage certificate confirming it’s a genuine RHD, English-market car.
Rarity and originality boost value
This car had everything going for it except the last degree of condition, but is it really worth more than the nicely restored RHD condition 2+ XK 150 drophead coupe that sold at Silverstone Auctions a few weeks later at $118,466?
The market says yes, and the market has always liked rarity — and particularly likes originality at the moment — but I’m not convinced about the extra money to buy this car. For the money successfully bid (and no buyer’s premium to pay), you could have had the more-original, more patina, ex-Carl Giles XK 120 Roadster, which has even more history and is on sale in the U.K. right now. Given that this car fetched twice the money that the best 150 roadsters have recently been achieving, I’d say it was extremely well sold, although judging from the pre-sale estimates, RM was confident of realizing this sum.
This was staggering money, considering that good examples usually fetch around $160k — and when a 150S coupe in the same sale went for a quarter of this price. But it sold right where RM predicted. So, rarity and originality mean about $150k here.
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)