This car was the 63rd XK 150 Roadster built and sold new with optional chrome wire wheels. Special equipment extras included fog lamps, a dual exhaust system and square-pad disc brakes. The engine was fitted with a straight-port “Gold Top” cylinder head, lead and bronze bearings and a lightened flywheel. Originally supplied by Henley’s Ltd of West Hounslow to the first owner, R.A. Hellmuth, on March 7, 1960, OTS999 was finished in Old English White with a red leather cockpit. OTS999 was subsequently sold in 1965 to its second owner, Mr. Chandler of Hertford, who in 1972 enlisted the Caxton Engineering Company to re-cellulose the car and re-chrome the radiator grille, rear bumper, headlamp surrounds, windscreen moldings, motifs and exterior components. He sold the car in March 1972 to a Mr. Ballisat, who shortly thereafter passed it to a Mr. Woodley of Cardiff on August 17, 1973, with mileage reading 32,560. Mr. Woodley was a keen enthusiast who owned the car for many years. In August 1976, he was invited by the Jaguar Drivers Club and Thoroughbred & Classic Cars magazine to display the car at the national classic car concours at Weston Park. Just one month later, OTS999 earned the XK 150 Champion Concours Cup at an XK day at Sudeley Castle and then went on to win numerous other concours awards, including a first in the JDC Concours d’Elegance at Paignton, Devon. Mr. Woodley was a fastidious owner and kept close records of maintenance work, journeys and mileage, which remain within the history file. In February 1999, Mr. Woodley sold OTS999 to Mr. Hughes of Hampshire, who sent the car to Richard Galvani of Cambridge Motorsport in March 1999. Work included reconditioning of the steering rack, an unleaded conversion, rebuilding the front suspension, a new starter motor, a new alternator, replacement rear-brake calipers and pads, Aeroquip brake lines, a new radiator and a new exhaust system. In April 2000, the Jaguar returned to Cambridge Motorsport for an engine and gearbox rebuild. and in 2002, Mr. Hughes instructed Cambridge Motorsport to sell the Jaguar. A Mr. Pressland acquired it in August 2002. Marque specialists Guy Broad were commissioned to rebuild the cylinder head and replace the brake master cylinder and the front and rear brake pads. The vendor acquired OTS999 in December 2006 and immediately fitted tracking and battery charging systems. In July 2010, Guy Broad rebuilt the engine, and it is understood to perform extremely well.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 Jaguar XK 150 S 3.8 roadster
Number Produced:36
Original List Price:$5,120 in 1959
SCM Valuation:$102,500-$122,500
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.)

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