Upon its introduction in the spring of 1957, Jaguar’s latest, heavily-revised version of the XK-series sports car got off to a slightly bumpy start. First, the factory fire that famously destroyed the remaining XKSS chassis also caused significant delays in the production of the new XK150. Once the earliest 150s reached the hands of testers, some complained about the car’s performance feeling somewhat blunt. Despite the mechanical improvements such as four-wheel disc brakes, the revised body styling was heavier than the outgoing XK140. But Jaguar quickly addressed this problem by adding the Special Equipment package to the options list, which effectively became the new base model. With a revised B-Type cylinder head and dual exhaust, the SE had improved performance enough to satisfy buyers and help the XK150 live up to its stylish new looks. Like the XK140 before it, Jaguar offered the XK150 as a fixed head coupe, drophead coupe, and (from mid-1957) open-two-seat roadster. The styling changes were not just for aesthetic purposes, but the taller, slab-sided body allowed for a wider and more comfortable cockpit. Leather and “Vynide” trim on the dash replaced the traditional burl wood trim of earlier models for a fresher and more modern appearance.
Once Jaguar overcame those initial hurdles, the XK150 sold quite well, and the addition of the high-performance, 250 horsepower “S” model helped to drive home its Le Mans-winning pedigree. In 1959, facing increased competition from powerful V8-powered American sports cars, Jaguar engineers decided to give the XK engine its first major update since its introduction in the XK120 in 1949. They bored the 3.4-liter block to 3.8 liters, and output for the base SE models jumped to 220 horsepower. The welcome power boost sustained the XK150 through the end of 1960 as Jaguar readied the XK-series’ sensational replacement, the E-Type.
According to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, this XK150 3.8-liter Drophead Coupe was completed at the Coventry Works on September 10, 1959, and delivered new in the USA via Jaguar Cars, New York. The late 1959 production date places this car among the earliest batch of chassis to receive the desirable 220 horsepower 3.8-liter inline-six. Originally delivered in cream over a dark blue interior, this drophead coupe is the subject of an older restoration and now presents in the classic combination of British Racing Green with a biscuit tan interior and top. The restoration displays some age through time and enjoyment, and it presents with an inviting, road-ready character. The dark green paintwork is sound, glossy and in good overall condition, with a few very minor stone chips acquired through regular use on the road. The original bumpers are straight and in good condition, and the chrome plating shows some polish marks and moderate crazing in places. The remaining exterior trim is straight, bright and in good order. As with the majority of XK150s, this car left the factory on wire wheels, and it now rides on 15-inch chrome replacements shod with black wall radials.
The biscuit tan interior presents in fair condition, showing a light-to-moderate patina in the seat upholstery, a very tidy fully-lined convertible top, and lovely Wilton wool carpets. The door panels, rugs, and the dash upholstery all present in good order, with consistent quality throughout the cabin. Instruments and switchgear all show in excellent condition, and a pleasing touch is a gorgeous, period-correct wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel.
Beneath the bonnet sits Jaguar’s legendary twin-cam inline-six, fitted with twin carburetors and a B-Type head to produce 220 horsepower and backed by a four-speed manual gearbox. It features a numbers-matching cylinder head per the Heritage Certificate, with a replacement 3.8-liter “LA” block sourced from a Mk II Saloon. The engine bay is tidy and clean overall, with polished alloy cam covers and carburetor dashpots in good condition, with room for further detailing efforts if one desires. An electric fan has been fitted to the radiator, and recent servicing ensures it is in good running order. Like the engine bay, the undercarriage presents well, showing signs of recent service and a heavy patina that consistent with this being a useable, driver-focused example.
With its balance of sharp handling, gutsy power, and vastly improved passenger comfort, the 150 is the driving enthusiast’s pick of the XK range. This car’s desirable specification and character make it a fine choice for the enthusiast desiring a sound and usable classic Jaguar to enjoy on rallies, tours, and casual weekend adventures.
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