Jaguar XK140 For Sale?

1957 Jaguar XK140

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    Jaguar XK140 Review (1954 - 1957)

    Overall Summary

    Dusty Cars Rating

    The Jaguar XK140 can hardly be called a new model for Jaguar. The previous model, the XK120, was extremely popular both on the track and among buyers. It was advanced in almost every aspect. The car could race and beat any other car of the era and it had a very modern design. The model saw numerous improvements as extreme racing conditions revealed the need for necessary enhancements. The XK140 was an unbelievably reliable car.

    However, as technology was developing, some aspects of the XK120 were becoming outdated. This is where the XK140 appeared. The basic idea was the same, but it bore several improvements which stemmed from modern development. In terms of driving the most notable change was improving the brakes, since the drums on the XK120 proved insufficient during prolonged aggressive driving. Other changes provided more interior space for the driver and passenger that by displacing dashboard, engine and firewall 3 inches towards the front. Even though the XK120 was known for competent and precise hearing, the recirculating ball system was replaced by modern rack and pinion steering which only brought improvements. The suspension was also improved mainly through the increase of the travel and use of telescopic shock absorbers as replacement for the lever arm.

    The three body styles were still available: coupe, roadster and convertible otherwise called drophead coupe. Just like with the XK120, the three body styles were distinguished by three-letter abbreviations OTS (for the open two-seater), FHC (for the fixed head coupe) and DHC (for the drophead coupe).

    Even though the design philosophy was the same, the XK140 was easily distinguishable from the XK120. First of all, it received new turn signals placed above the front bumper. The bumper itself grew notably and it now featured overriders. Toying with the adored grille of the XK120 was a dangerous move, but it became even more beautiful, being made in one piece and featuring wider bars.

    The fact that even Jaguar themselves considered the new model an improvement for the XK120 was evident at the chrome strip running down the trunk which housed an emblem which proudly boasted the inscription “Winner Le Mans 1951–3” – a success achieved during the XK120 production era.

    Another thing which stayed the same was the FR layout and the engine size. While the Jaguar XK120 for sale offered three different power ratings from the 3.4 l engine, the XK140 offered only two. The model with the lower power rating was called the XK140 3.4. It featured the familiar double overhead camshafts straight six engine with double SU H6 carburetors and produced 190 horsepower. The more powerful option had two names, depending on the market – XK140 3.4 SE in Europe and XK140 3.4 MC in the USA. It was an optional model with C-Type cylinder head and H8 carburetors which produced 210 hp. The power increase also called for better torsion bars.

    The most significant change came in 1956, two years after the XK140’s appearance. This was the year when an optional automatic gearbox was offered.

    Although vast majority of US imported XK140s came with 16 inch wire wheels and twin exhausts, the two features were actually optional and the standard model had standard disk wheels. With the standard wheels you could also get removable fender skirts for the rear wheels, which was technically impossible for the wire wheels.

    Driving & Performance

    Even though the XK140 brought a slight increase in power, its top speed rarely exceeded 124 miles, mostly just barely breaking the 120 mph barrier, due to the increased weight compared to the slightly faster, albeit less powerful, XK120. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour was at about 8.5 to 9 seconds (variations in top speed and accelerations come from different test runs) and to 100 miles per hour at 26.5 seconds, while the quarter mile run took 16.6 seconds.

    The increased weight and improved suspension, brakes and steering virtually evened out and the XK140 handled very similarly to the XK120. The differences were a matter of preference between different drivers, rather than objective conclusions. This being said, more racing oriented drivers were somewhat angling towards the XK120, while the increased comfort of the XK140 and better brakes won against the weight gain for the majority.

    Either way, the car still featured the perfectly well balanced inline DOHC engine and the FR layout still meant that the XK140 was a joy to drive, especially with the rack and pinion steering.

    Today, as numerous common cars are very close to the performance figures of the XK120 and XK140, we have to say that roomier interior, better brakes and steering and increased suspension travel seem like more valuable assets for a driver, although the slight differences between the two cars still leave it as a choice based on preference.

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    Equipment & Comfort

    We have already praised the interior, materials and attention to details of the XK120 extensively, so the improved XK140 is no different. You could get high quality leather seats which came as standard and which are very comfortable even by today’s standards.

    The handbrake placement was still the same – it was on the left on all models regardless of which side the steering wheel was on.

    The centered dashboard was still present as was the choice between leather dashboard finish and high-quality wood finish, the leather serving as standard and wood being reserved for more upmarket DHC and FHC models. Placement and size of the dials was also the same with the rev counter and speedometer resting at the sides with all other dials and controls in between.

    Lack of door handles was still noticeable at the sight of the XK140. The roadster version featured a light top made of canvas which could be folded behind the driver and passenger and thus put completely out of sight. Their roadster also included a removable side curtains and windscreen and a tonneau. A slight redesign of doors and increased interior space greatly improved accessing the vehicle for taller drivers and passengers.

    The Drophead Coupe had a thicker top which could not be hidden completely out of sight when folded, but it would rather rest behind the seats. The windscreen could not be removed, but you would get wind-up windows and even a very small rear seat. Unlike the leather dashboard of the roadster, the DHC had a wood one.

    The FHC shared most of the features of the DHC, including the interior materials and the rear seat, but lacked the removable top, here replaced by a proper roof.

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    Running Costs

    The XK140 shared a lot of parts with the XK120, so their running costs are also similar. However, the biggest problem were the brakes and they got significantly better with the XK140, so this is a big plus for the newer model.

    Other parts are priced similarly to the ones on the XK120 and they share the durability and can often be used on both cars. Things that do differ in functionality are still priced similarly, so a rear Koni shock for the XK140 costs about $230, while a pair of them by Spax is at about $340.

    As mentioned, the XK140 is a very reliable car especially having in mind that it was an improved version of the already revered XK120.

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    History & Development

    Knowing that the XK140 was an upgraded XK120 and that it was sold for only three years leaves little room for history and development. It was introduced in 1954, but sold as a 1955 model. Both powering options – 190 hp and 210 hp – coming from a 3.4 l I6 were available from the same year. The engine had double overhead camshafts and the fuel was fed using either two SU H6 or SU H8 carburetors. What brought to the change in power rating was also familiar from the XK120. It used to be called Special Equipment for the XK120’s engine, but it came as a standard feature for the XK140.

    The biggest change and the most notable innovation that came during the production years happened in 1956 with the introduction of the automatic transmission as an optional feature.

    Also, all three body styles were offered from the same year. A senior peculiarity was the battery. The FHC had two 6V batteries placed in each of the front wings, while the other 2 models had one 12V battery placed in the front wing in front of the passenger and changing sides depending on the side of the steering wheel.

    The XK140 was replaced by the Jaguar XK150 in 1957 and, although it was similar in design, it was heavily altered bringing loads of innovations.

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    Facts & Figures

    BodyRoadster, coupe and drophead coupe
    Engines3.4 l DOHC XK inline 6 (190 hp) – 1954 to 1957
    3.4 l DOHC XK inline 6 (210 hp) – 1954 to 1957
    Dimensions and weight
    Weight3,135 lb – 3,248 lb
    Jaguar XK120 years of production
    All Models1954 – 1957
    Jaguar XK120 production numbers
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