1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC

2014 Drive-My

1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC £42,500. Recently recommissioned, this tidy XK140 is mechanically on the button, says Ben Wanklyn. Prior to its return to the UK in 2013, this right-hand-drive XK140 spent decades in a car collection in Italy. It has been mechanically recommissioned and extensively used by the vendor since, but aside from past cosmetic work it is believed never to have been restored, and the car appears to be in fine order where it counts.

The front wings are free from dimples or rust bubbles, and there is excellent door fit, although the driver’s door latch could do with adjustment. The B-pillars and surrounding framework have been repaired by the vendor, although a small bubble exists behind the nearside door. The rear wings are ripple-free, while both bootlid and bonnet boast even gaps.

Although holding its shine well, imperfect paintwork lets down the upper bodywork. Small cracks are present in the paint on the front bumper valance and lower nearside front wing, while its opposite number is lightly scuffed. The brightwork is presentable, if imperfect, with light tarnishing to some of the mouldings and the straight grille, plus flaking chrome on the edges of the front bumper. The clean- looking chassis shows signs of repairs to its rear section, and appears to be corrosion-free. The sills, floorpans and black-painted boot cavity are similarly well-preserved.

The engine fires easily without smoking, keeps its cool and displays healthy oil pressure, although the dashboard gauge is temperamental. Robust acceleration is matched by a fruity rasp from the stainless steel exhaust. A drop of oil has escaped from the sump, but there didn’t appear to be any serious lubricant leaks.

The Moss overdrive gearbox also performs well. The clutch has a high biting point, but the transmission is smooth and relatively quiet. The taut-feeling front suspension components are spotlessly clean, while shiny telescopic dampers appear to be recent replacements.

Courtesy of the rebuilt drum brakes, stopping is firm and straight – if not sharp or immediate. The wire wheels display some chipping, but the Avon crossply tyres all boast plenty of tread. A non-standard petrol tank supplies an electric fuel pump.

Inside, the tan hide seat covers are unmarked and free from tears, but are lined with the careworn creases of age. The lightly faded dashboard timber also shows its years, but the door and side window cappings are in excellent order, as are the aftermarket wooden steering wheel and unmarked cloth headlining. The glass faces of some instruments are cracked, while the non-functioning tachometer and sticky speedometer require attention.

Although no show winner, this XK140’s tasteful blend of originality with flight-ready mechanicals is an intoxicating mix.

Non-standard steering wheel has aged well, but some dashboard dials require sorting.

Engine fires easily, and no smoke is conjured when doing so. Minor oil leak, however.


CHOOSE YOUR XK

XK120 unveiled at 1948 Earls Court Motor Show in London. Alloy roadster body over wooden frame and shortened MkVII chassis with straight- six XK engine. Torsion bar front suspension and 160bhp, but drum brakes all round. Pre-purchase- tax price of £998.

Demand prompts changeover to production- friendly steel bodies from 1950, retaining aluminium doors, bonnet and bootlid. Fixed-head coupe launched in 1951, roomier drophead coupe in 1953.

Optional Special Equipment package offers wire wheels and boosts power to 180bhp.

XK140 arrives 1954, with 190bhp, rack and pinion steering, telescopic dampers, thicker bumpers and new grille. FHC and DHC boast more interior space and occasional rear seats. Overdrive and auto are options, as is 210bhp engine. Drum brakes remain.

Restyled XK150 from 1957, with wider bodies, single-piece windscreen and disc brakes front and rear. Triple-carb 250bhp ‘S’ variant of 3442cc engine offered alongside 190bhp and 210bhp 4SE’ versions. 3.8-litre engine takes over from 1959, with 220bhp and 265bhp versions available as options.

CARS SPECIFICATIONS 
Car 1955 Jaguar XK140 FHC
Sold/number built  
Construction

All-steel monocoque

Engine

3442cc DOHC straight-six

Max power 190bhp @ 5500rpm
Max torque 210lb ft @ 2500rpm
Transmission  
Drive

rear-wheel drive 

Suspension:
front  
rear  
Steering  
Brakes  
Wheels 1645mm
Length 4470mm
Width  
Height  
Wheelbase  
Weight  
0-62mph 11sec
Top speed 129mph
Mpg  
Price new  
Price now £185,000 Contact Border Reivers (borderreivers.co, 01360 870103)

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