1956 JAGUAR XK140 ROADSTER
Chassis No. 812766
Engine No. G 8665-8
Pearl Grey with red leather interior and fawn soft top
Engine: six cylinder, in-line, twin overhead camshafts, 3,442cc., 190bhp at 5,500rpm; Gearbox: four-speed manual synchromesh; Suspension: independent front with double wishbones, longitudinal torsion bars, anti-roll bar, semi-elliptic leaf springs to live rear axle; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic drum. Left hand drive.
The SS sports two-seater of the pre-war years, and its exciting 1940's successor the XK120 Roadster, with its cutaway dashing vee-screen and fully disappearing hood, helped establish Jaguar's credentials as a manufacturer of luxurious sports cars. While Jaguar had enormous success with the fabulous XK120 sports model during its six year life span, by 1954 it was time to move on.
Thus in October 1954 at that year's London Motor Show a successor model, the 140, was unveiled with major changes in appearance and engineering. To provide more space in the cockpit area and improve handling, the engine and gearbox were moved forward some three inches improving the front-to-rear weight distribution. Rack and pinion steering by Alford & Alder replaced the earlier recirculating ball gear, giving a much more direct response to the wheel. The XK140s were fitted with the former Special Equipment engine developing 190bhp at 5,500rpm. The compression ratio was 8:1 with high lift cams, and the engine had steel rather than cast iron main bearing caps to cope with the power increase. Other improvements were an eight blade fan, a larger radiator and an improved water pump. To take advantage of the extra horsepower the gearbox had closer ratios. Although there was still a strong resemblance to the previous model, there was a greater application of chromium plate. And heavy duty bumpers sporting overriders derived from Jaguar's Mk VII saloon were adopted front and rear. To match these, the radiator grille was given more emphasis. 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. Offered as before in Roadster, Coupe and Drophead Coupe variants, the XK140 represented remarkable value for money. On test the new XK140 roadster impressed the journalists. In Britain The Autocar recorded an excellent 13.9 secs to 80 mph and in the US Road and Track found the maximum speed to be 121mph, a performance matched by few other production models. When production ceased, to make way for the XK150 three years later, over 3,300 XK140 roadsters had left the factory.
According to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage certificate this XK140 Roadster was manufactured in September 1956 and its original distributor was Jaguar Cars, New York. The car was supplied new in Pearl Grey with red interior trim and actually a gunmetal colored soft top. The JDHT certificate also confirms the correct matching numbers for the engine and gearbox. This superb example comes equipped with the steel wheels and rear fender skirts that evoke the original lines of the initial XK120s before the spoke wire wheels became so popular. Indeed it is quite rare to see an XK140 so equipped, and this not only makes the car more distinctive, but also makes the entire bodywork flowing and elegant. Clearly this roadster has led a remarkably sheltered life and is a wonderful testament to originality. The mileage to date is a mere 48,000 and judging from its condition today it is somewhat hard to believe it has covered even that amount. The paintwork appears to be original throughout apart from a small area on the rear trunk lid where a color match was a little off. The bodywork is extremely straight and the chrome is in first class order considering its age. The red leather upholstery, trim and carpets all seem to be original. The top is also undoubtedly the original and the current vendor is carefully trying to soften the fabric as the top had been left in the upright position for many years and had gone quite brittle. The trunk contains an original tool roll, jack and spare wheel. In addition the car comes with a partially used box of Jaguar Minor Replacement Outfit that came from the Royston, Philadelphia Jaguar agent. These kits contained items such as spare gaskets and other useful items. A full set of owner's manuals is also present. The engine bay is highly original and this matching numbers vehicle is said to run and drive beautifully.
While the complete ownership history is unknown, it would appear that for many years this Jaguar was owned by a gunsmith from Altoona, Pennsylvania who had carefully laid the car up. When discovered, items such as the hub caps had been preserved with Cosmolene. A service sticker indicates that in 1977 the mileage was 47,126 since which time barely a thousand miles have been covered. Finding original cars of this type is increasingly hard to achieve and we sincerely hope that the new custodian maintains the tradition of leaving this example original where possible.
With the classic looks of the XK120, yet with all the benefits of the 140 range, this delightful 140 Roadster should appeal to all Jaguar and sports car enthusiasts. There is a large number of active Jaguar car clubs one can join and also a great variety of specialist firms who can provide spares, restoration and technical advice. Naturally this XK would be welcomed in Jaguar and other car events, especially in the increasingly popular preservation classes.