Launched in 1954, the Jaguar XK140 was broadly similar to, though more refined than, its sensational XK120 predecessor, major engineering changes being confined to the repositioning of the engine 3 inches further forward and the adoption of rack-and-pinion steering as used on the racing C-Type. The suspension was also improved, though with stiffer torsion bars at the front and telescopic shock absorbers replacing the previous lever type at the rear. Like its forbear, the XK140 was built in three model types: roadster, drophead coupe and fixed head coupe.
Offering a slight bump in performance the Special Equipment version featured Jaguar’s C-Type cylinder head, adding 20bhp to offer a total power output of 210bhp. The XK 140 SE proved to be an excellent sports car and a highly capable grand tourer, especially in fixed head coupe form.
The history of this lovely right hand drive SE fixed head coupe is pretty well documented in the folders that accompany the car. Built on the 8th March 1956 it was despatched to Roland C Bellamy of Grimsby later that month. It is a well-travelled example, having been owned by a USAF officer who was stationed in Germany in the late 60s/early 70s. It appears to have travelled to the USA in 1974. Amongst the three files of paperwork that accompany the car there are US Titles, the earliest from Kansas in 1976. He appears to have been in Denver, Colorado in the 80s and the Jaguar returned to the UK in 1993. Initially residing in Kent it subsequently found its way to Cornwall where the owner embarked on a comprehensive restoration in 2003.
As mentioned there are 3 large folders of bills, invoices, letters, US titles and information about the restoration. There are wads of invoices for parts, and some copies of photos during the process. There is also a Daimler Jaguar Heritage Certificate issued in 2003 that tells us that the Jaguar is a correct, UK supplied SE, with red exterior and originally a Suede Green leather interior (now Tan).
There are plenty of old MoTs in the folder, the most recent having expired in February 2020. The earliest is from 1973, which lists the mileage at 52,037, and there are plenty of others from the 90s, onwards that appear to corroborate the current total at just over 73,000. Also included is a delightfully tatty original Operating and Maintenance Manual that’s seen plenty of action!
The inside of the Jaguar is in really rather lovely condition; not perfect, but tidy and usable. The woodwork is all intact and is exceptionally nice. The instruments are all clear, the original radio is in place, and generally the dash and fascia area are very good. The seats are nicely worn, but not worn out; just the right amount of wear to look used with no scuffs or tears. The beige colour carpets are unworn, but a good clean would improve them as there are a few oil marks and slightly grubby areas. The rear seats, door cards and roof lining are all in good condition.
On the outside the bright Red exterior shines well, and really complements the shape of the Jaguar, The chrome is all excellent, as are all the trim parts, glass and various light and spotlight lenses. There are a few issues with the paint in places, particularly on the rear of the Jaguar. There are blisters and bubbles below the rear lights, on the boot lid and below the rear quarter window on the driver’s side. There are a few on panel edges around the bonnet too. None of them appear to have split or burst through so it’s likely that there is a limited amount of corrosion hidden below the paint.
As can be seen in the photographs the Jaguar is very presentable “as is” and none of these defects would stop the new owner enjoying the car.
According to a bill in the history file it appears the Jaguar had an engine rebuild in 2012. Upon our arrival to take the photographs it had not been started for a couple of weeks, and it fired up immediately on the first turn of the key, with no smoke, rare for an XK! With a 5 speed gearbox upgrade, thought to have been carried out during its restoration in 2003, the Jaguar now has longer legs than it did with its original close ratio four speed, and it is reported to be a great long distance GT, especially with a good size boot, and the bonus of rear seats. The engine bay is clean and tidy and free of drips or oil marks. The exhaust manifold is coated in silver heat resist paint although it would appear that it had surface corrosion prior to painting. From the manifold to the tailpipe there is a new looking stainless steel dual exhaust fitted. There is also an electric fan fitted ahead of the radiator behind the grille.
Overall this Jaguar is a rare and desirable car. An original XK140 built with right hand drive in SE spec, so it has the full 210bhp delivered through an upgraded 5 speed gearbox. Finished in an attractive colour, and with a heavily documented history and low mileage, there is little to be done other than to enjoy the ride!
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