When Jaguar unleased the XK120 on the world in 1949, it raised the bar for performance and style at an astonishingly affordable price point. The follow-up to the 120 came in 1954, which Jaguar dubbed the XK140, offering a wealth of improvements to address the shortcomings of the earlier model. With the 140, Jaguar updated their flagship sports car with a new rack and pinion steering system, more powerful drum brakes, telescopic dampers, and increased suspension travel to improve ride and handling dynamics. Jaguar moved the forward engine slightly in the chassis, which allowed for a more spacious and comfortable passenger compartment. Aside from the engineering changes, the beautiful styling got a subtle freshening, with new full-width chrome bumpers, a slightly wider grille, additional chrome strips, and new badges celebrating Jaguar’s Le Mans success. The XK140 was a superb driver’s car and a worthy successor to the XK120, elevating Jaguar’s flagship to new levels of luxury and performance.
As with the XK120, the XK140 was available in three distinct body styles, with multiple engine options to cater to the individual buyer’s desire. On the luxurious end of the scale sat the fixed head coupe, followed by the open drophead coupe. For the buyer wanting less of a compromise, the Open Two-Seater, colloquially known as the roadster, offered the purest experience. This 1956 XK140 OTS is the ultimate iteration, pairing the svelte and minimalist roadster bodywork with the high-performance “MC” options. Now offered after 38 years in the care of one enthusiastic owner, this matching-numbers car has an attractive, honest character and is a joy to drive.
According to production records supplied by Jaguar Archives, this XK140 left the factory in its current color scheme of cream over a black interior, with a black soft-top. It features the desirable “M” package (also known as Special Equipment), which adds wire wheels and dual exhaust, in addition to the optional high-flow C-Type cylinder head and Laycock de Normanville overdrive unit. It was delivered new to a buyer in Germany, though its early history is not known. The most recent owner found the car advertised in Hemmings Motor News in 1982, located in his hometown of Syracuse, New York. After acquiring the Jaguar, it remained in his care for the next 38 years, and he loved using it regularly on weekend drives and in casual club settings. He had the car repainted in its original color during his tenure, and the interior reupholstered in the correct black leather. It received continual expert care and maintenance but has never been fully disassembled or restored.
Today, this lovely XK140 displays a light careworn character that makes it ideal for regular enjoyment. The cream paintwork is in good order, and the car now wears excellent chrome wire wheels fitted with high-quality, period-style Avon TurboSteel radials. Brightwork and trim are in good order all around, with authentic details, including Lucas fog lamps, tripod headlamps, and Lucas wing mirrors.
The black upholstery was restored under the most recent owner’s care, and it has taken on the inviting character of a nicely broken-in baseball mitt. The leather is supple, with an even finish and just the right amount of creasing to the surface. Cockpit rails, door panels, and dash are all upholstered with factory-correct materials. Correct Wilton carpets line the floors, and the black canvas soft top fits well and is in good condition. The boot features black Hardura trim, and the underside of the spare tire well houses the correct jack, jack handle, grease gun, and knock-off hammer.
Mechanically, this XK is in excellent order. The numbers-matching 3.4-liter twin-cam inline-six is well detailed, with highlights including recently restored porcelain enamel exhaust manifolds, polished alloy cam covers and SU carbs, and red paint denoting this as the hot C-Type cylinder head. In testing, it performed exceptionally well, with the cohesive feel of a car that’s never been completely apart. Behind the four-speed Moss gearbox sits the optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive, which allows for considerably more relaxed cruising in top gear. The undercarriage is tidy and consistently finished, with niceties including stainless steel exhaust and Koni dampers.
The XK140 hits the sweet spot in the XK series, boasting superior comfort and handling over the XK120 while retaining much of the early car’s graceful and iconic styling. This fine example has been cherished by one enthusiastic owner for nearly four decades and is now ready for its next caretaker to carry on enjoying it to the fullest.
Offers welcome and trades considered