1955 JAGUAR XK 140 DROPHEAD COUPÉ
Registration No. MAW 517
Chassis No. 807082 DN
Engine No. G 3137-8
British Racing Green with black leather interior and black hood
Engine: six-cylinder, twin overhead camshafts, 3,442cc, 190bhp at 5750rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual synchromesh with overdrive; Suspension: independent front with rear semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: Lockheed four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
It was at the first post-war Motor Show held in England on October 27th, 1948 that William Lyons introduced the revolutionary new Jaguar XK120. The Jaguar show car, finished in a striking, yet uncharacteristic bronze colour, was met enthusiastically by the awed attendees. In the years following its introduction, the Jaguar XK120 remained a popular and successful icon in the automobile world, and by October of 1954 at The Earls Court Motor Show, its successor, the XK140, was introduced to an anxious and now devout following of Jaguar enthusiasts.
The six-year life span of the fabulous XK120 model allowed Jaguar to determine areas for refinement and institute them in the new XK140, more passenger space, more power. For the first time an overdrive was offered as an optional in the form of the Laycock-De-Normanville Unit. While still retaining the classic lines of the XK120, but now protected by sturdier bumpers and a tougher grill. A chrome strip ran down the length of the hood, and another on the rear trunk lid drew attention to the medallion in the middle proclaiming the Le Mans wins of the marque. The rear bumper wrapped around the fenders and sported over riders.
Inside, the front seat and dashboard remained the same, but the engine block was moved on the chassis to create more legroom and space behind the front seat, and to achieve better straight-line stability. In addition, the adoption of the Alford and Alder rack-pinion steering led to a much more direct response to the wheel.
The XK140 was astonishing value for money, with the drophead version costing £1,644 which was well under half the price of the Mercedes 300SL yet could almost match it's performance. The model proved to be even more successful than the XK 120, with 2,808 fixed heads, 2,789 dropheads and 3,354 roadsters leaving the factory between 1954-57. Out of these dropheads there were only to be 479 right hand drive cars making this a rare car of it's type.
Manufactured in 1955 this XK was laid up in 1965, for twelve years until it was discovered by marque specialist restorer Alan Holdaway, in Stevenage. He later described the car as having been in 'reasonable though stripped condition' when found, and he began to restore it in his spare time, fitting an overdrive system in the car. It debuted at a concours event - the Jaguar Drivers Club's XK Day - in mid-1978, and although only the bodywork and engine bay were completed by then, with no trim other than a driver's seat it managed to achieve third place in the XK 140 class. This would be an omen for the future, as the completed car would subsequently in 1979 take both Best Restored XK 140 and Best Jaguar XK in Show at the International XK day. This win in turn enabled it to be taken to the Champion of Champions day that year at Browns Lane, where it eclipsed all the other competitors taking the Best Restored Jaguar prize. In 1980 it would again repeat its win at the International XK day.
While its owner then retired the car from concours, these successes lead to it being chosen as the example that Corgi Toys used for their model XK 140 Drophead, which even bears the car's registration number. It also lead to several features in magazines most notably a prominent feature in an article on the XK models in the June 1984 issue of Classic & Sportscar, where it appears on the cover.
The present owner acquired the car from Mr Holdaway in March 1987, and at that time instructed him to restore the car again, overhauling the car's mechanics, repainting from red to the present British Racing Green livery, and fitting hubs, spinners and chrome wire wheels. This work was completed in December 1988.
Since then the car has had limited use in the UK, and in the vendor's native country America. Although the restoration has now mellowed, it continues to be in very good condition and is a superb example of the marque which has been used for pleasure and concours purposes.
MAW 517 is offered with original Jaguar Cars Limited sales brochure and handbook for the XK140 models, full documentation on restoration and maintenance by Alan Holdaway, Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust certificate and a copy of the Classic & Sportscar issue.