As the time came for Jaguar to replace the XK120, Sir William Lyons and his team of designers wisely took an evolutionary approach to the new car. The XK120 established Jaguar’s place in North America and spurred on Britain’s dominance in the high-performance sports car segment, so there was little incentive to mess with success.
The majority of the XK140’s refinements addressed customer complaints about comfort and drivability from the previous model. Engineers moved the engine forward by three inches to allow for improved legroom in the cockpit. The 190 horsepower version of the 3.4-liter inline-six from the XK120 M now served as the standard engine, with the optional C-Type cylinder head boosting output to 210 horsepower. Straight-line performance was about the same as the XK120, but road-holding vastly improved thanks to the addition of more precise rack and pinion steering, telescopic dampers, larger brakes, and better suspension travel. The beautiful looks remain virtually the same, except for some subtle refinements to the bumpers, a slightly wider grille, and additional body trim. These improvements made the XK140 more comfortable, predictable, and enjoyable to drive regularly, while still offering the thrilling performance that made the XK120 such a legend.
This beautiful 1956 XK140 Open Two-Seat Roadster is a highly desirable “MC” model equipped from new with dual exhausts, wire wheels, and the free-breathing C-Type cylinder head. According to the original invoice from Henry Miller Motors Inc of Washington, DC, this car was sold new on February 18th, 1956, to Harold Hagy of Arlington, Virginia, for $3,552. The “S” prefix on the serial number indicates this as a Special Equipment model, and the “DN” suffix shows it came equipped from new with the Laycock de Normanville electric overdrive unit. Mr. Hagy lovingly cared for the XK140 for 34 years, amassing fewer than 20,000 miles during his 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 somewhat tired. Mr. Williams subsequently had the car repainted in a lovely shade of British Racing Green and restored the interior using tan leather. He also fitted chrome wire wheels and had the car mechanically sorted and detailed. Richard Williams enjoyed the XK until his passing, when ownership transferred to his son Charles, of Darien, CT. Charles continued to care for and enjoy the Jaguar for several more years before selling it to an avid collector of significant Jaguar cars.
Currently showing very low miles, the XK140 remains in outstanding condition. The body exhibits proper alignment and lovely paintwork, and it benefits from cost-no-object maintenance while in the hands of its previous owner. It retains its original matching-numbers engine and C-Type cylinder head, and the four-speed gearbox with the Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit. The restored interior is in excellent order with supple Biscuit leather seats that show light creasing 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 luxurious drophead coupe with roll-up side glass and a lined roof, the OTS offers a simple disappearing soft top and removable side curtains. This car’s Stayfast canvas top is excellent, and the side curtains are restored.
The 3.4-liter inline-six is exquisitely detailed, with the correct bright red cylinder head paint reserved for the C-Type engines. A discreet electric power-assisted steering system is integrated into the column, taking the effort out of low-speed maneuvering while maintaining excellent steering feel once underway. It is a superb system that works beautifully, and you forget it’s there after a few miles. Also, a slightly smaller diameter steering wheel offers greater comfort and improved driver access without sacrificing the car’s authenticity. Well-equipped with numerous desirable options and with documented ownership history, this well-sorted and beautiful XK140 MC is prime for enjoyment on a host of driver-focused motoring events or in club level shows and concours.
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