From 1948 through 1954, the brilliant XK120 firmly established Jaguar at the forefront of sports-car manufacturers with its unforgettably graceful, sweeping bodylines and impressive performance. Powered by Jaguar’s all-new DOHC ‘XK’ inline six-cylinder engine quietly designed and developed since wartime, the XK120 was the world’s first series-production sports car to be equipped with such a sophisticated powerplant. Competition success was immediate on both sides of the Atlantic, with the new ‘XK’ victorious in circuit races and arduous long-distance rallies of the era. It also propelled many young, up-and-coming to victory lane, including Stirling Moss and America’s eventual Grand Prix World Champion, Phil Hill.
Approximately 12,000 XK120s were produced, and the sound original design could easily be improved and updated, keeping the competition at bay. The refined XK140 arrived in late 1954 with comprehensive improvements – some derived directly from Jaguar’s racing program – that were designed to overcome the few shortcomings of its predecessor, while maintaining strong appeal in dealer showrooms, especially in the crucial U.S. market.
Among the numerous upgrades applied to the XK140, most notable among them were the welcome addition of precise rack-and-pinion steering gear, new hydraulic shock absorbers, improved brakes, stiffer torsion bars, and upgraded engine cooling. Greater passenger comfort and legroom were delivered by more forward engine placement and relocation of the car’s batteries. While the basic 102-inch wheelbase remained unchanged, overall length and width were increased, further enhancing comfort. Styling was only subtly updated for the XK140, with the widely acclaimed basic design cues of the XK120 thankfully left intact, save for an updated radiator grille and additional trim.
The most popular XK140 model in America remained the OTS (open two-seater), otherwise simply known to legions of Jaguar enthusiasts as the Roadster. According to marque experts, of the 3,350 XK140 roadsters built for 1954-1957, only 49 were sold in the British Home Market. Priced in the USA from $3,745, the cars continued to provide Jaguar’s characteristically excellent performance and startling value for the money, consistent with Jaguar founder William (later Sir William) Lyons’ proven “Grace, pace, and space” maxim.
While the XK140 was already a potent performer in standard 3.4-liter, 190 horsepower guise, the ultimate version was the XK140SE, with the suffix denoting the “Special Equipment” option. Also known as the XK140M “Modified,” this uprated XK140 delivered even greater performance with 210 brake horsepower on tap at 5,750 rpm, thanks to the addition of the high-performance straight-port C-Type cylinder head.
Bearing chassis number S810477, with the “S” prefix confirming it as an original high-performance SE model, this Jaguar XK140 left Jaguar’s famed Browns Lane workshops mid-way through 1955 model year. An original left-hand drive Export model, this XK140 came equipped with the desirable 'MC' high-performance package consisting of the high-flow C-Type cylinder head, dual exhaust system, Dunlop “knock-off” chrome wire wheels, and Lucas driving lights.
Most likely delivered new to the United States, the desirably equipped Jaguar was acquired by the former owner, a Nevada-based collector, during the early 2000s. Selective restoration as required under the prior ownership included cosmetic and mechanical refurbishment, including a refinish in Carmen Red over a tidy black leather interior. Other highlights include a black soft top, period Lucas driving lights, correct Smiths instruments, chrome wire wheels, and period-correct Dunlop Road Speed 5 tires. The MC style twin exhaust system was also recently renewed in stainless steel. Chrome and brightwork are in good order, and the car displays a light overall patina and broken-in character that encourages regular driving.
The ‘XK’ DOHC inline 6-cylinder engine block is confirmed to bear matching numbers to the car, while the cylinder head is a correct replacement C-Type unit with properly polished cam covers. A Jaguar Daimler Heritage Certificate is included, confirming the original numbering and vehicle details. As offered, this top-specification XK140SE is a compelling and enjoyable example that will provide a great mount for spirited weekend drives or to prepare for a wide array of desirable long-distance rallies and touring events.
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Stock number 7377
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