1956 Jaguar XK140 MC Roadster

Jaguar chose an evolutionary approach when replacing its groundbreaking XK120. It was, after all, the car that truly established Jaguar as a mainstream manufacturer and one that spurred a sports car revolution in Europe and America, so there wasn’t much that needed to be altered. When the XK 120 first hit the streets in 1948 it was the first proper sports car from Jaguar since the pre-war SS100. Seemingly from nowhere, this exotic and beautiful automobile offered astounding performance from its 160 horsepower twin-overhead cam inline six cylinder engine, all for less than $4,000. While the list price was not exactly cheap, it was often far below its competitors and offered much greater performance for the money. The standard XK120 was followed up with “M” and “MC” versions (Modified and Modified, C-Type head) also known as SE in other markets. These high performance variants boosted horsepower from the standard 160 bhp to 180 bhp and 210 bhp respectively. The XK120 proved popular among American servicemen who had caught the sports car bug while serving in Europe in the early post-war years and became a fixture of the early days of American road racing, cementing Jaguar’s reputation as a premier sports car manufacturer.

Rather than mess with a good thing, Jaguar made numerous refinements to create the new XK140. The same beautiful lines were retained, with subtle refinements to the bumpers and body trim. The engine was moved forward by three inches to address complaints of cramped accommodations and the standard engine was now the 190 horsepower version of the 3.4 liter inline six, with the return of the MC option and its 210 horsepower output. Straight line performance was about the same as the XK120, but the road holding had been vastly improved thanks to the addition of rack and pinion steering, telescopic dampers, larger brakes and additional suspension travel. These improvements made the XK 140 more comfortable, predictable and enjoyable to drive. As with the XK120 before, the OTS roadster (open two-seater) remains the most desirable with collectors and enthusiasts, thanks to its clean, uncluttered look and raw, exciting performance.

This beautiful XK140 OTS is a highly desirable “MC” model, equipped from new with dual exhausts, wire wheels and the free-breathing C-Type cylinder head. A numbers-matching example, this car was sold new on February 18th 1956 to Harold Hagy of Arlington Virginia for $3,552. A copy of the original sales invoice from Henry Miller Motors, Inc of Washington, DC lists the ID number of S811154DN. The “S” prefix indicates this as a special equipment model and the “DN” suffix shows it was factory equipped with the Laycock de Normanville electric overdrive unit. Photos of the car prior to restoration show it was delivered in what appears to be Mist Gray over a tan interior with a fawn top. Mr. Hagy lovingly cared for the XK140 in his time with it, amassing fewer than 20,000 miles in his 34 year tenure.

In 1990, Harold Hagy sold his treasured XK140 to Richard E. Williams, a veteran car collector and enthusiast known for his extensive collection of early Fords. Correspondence in the history file shows the car had just 19,640 original miles when Mr. Williams acquired it. Photos taken in 1990 show it to be in very tidy and straight condition, though the original paint was described as being tired. Mr. Williams subsequently had the car repainted in a very attractive shade of British Racing Green and restored the tan leather interior. Chrome wire wheels were fitted and the car was mechanically sorted and extensively detailed. It was enjoyed by Richard Williams until his passing, when ownership was transferred to his son Charles, of Darien, CT. Charles would continue to care for and enjoy the Jaguar for several more years before it passed to its most recent owner, an avid collector of significant Jaguar cars.

Currently showing only 27,040 miles, the XK140 remains in truly outstanding condition. The body is in fine order with very good panel alignment and lovely paintwork. It has been exceptionally well maintained and detailed to a very high standard by its most recent owner. It retains its original matching-numbers engine and C-Type cylinder head. It is also still equipped as it was when new with the Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit.

The interior was restored in conjunction with the body, and it remains in very fine order with supple Biscuit leather seats that show light creasing and present with a pleasing, inviting character. Original instruments and switches remain in place, as well as the factory supplied tools, jack, and grease gun. Unlike the more posh drophead coupe, the OTS featured a simple disappearing soft top with removable side curtains. This car’s Stayfast canvas top is excellent, and the side curtains have been recently restored. The sliding Perspex side windows are still covered in their protective paper, so they are fresh and free from scuffs.

The 3.4 liter inline six is exquisitely detailed, with the correct bright red cylinder head paint that was unique to the C-Type engines. An electric power-assisted steering system has been discreetly integrated into the column, which takes the effort out of low-speed maneuvering but maintains the excellent steering feel once underway. In addition, a slightly smaller diameter steering wheel is fitted for greater comfort and improved driver access. The original wheel will be included. Well-equipped with numerous desirable options and with documented 3-owner history, this sorted and beautifully presented XK140 MC is ready to enjoy on tours, rallies or in local concours events.

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