1957 Jaguar XK-140 Drop-Head Coupe
William Lyons began his business career in Blackpool, England with a company building special bodies for motorcycle sidecars. It was a natural progression to produce special bodies for motorcars which led ultimately to the launch of the model SS-Jaguar in 1935. During WWII, Mr. Lyons not only planned a series of new models, but an exciting family of twin-cam engines to power them; these were called the XK units and were built in Coventry and refined over a period of several years. The very first XK-engined car to meet its public was the XK120 roadster of 1948, at the time the fastest production sports car in the world. Well priced on its announcement at £1273, this cost was of only academic interest in England because practically all 120s were exported, mostly to America. The car did not reach the home market until March 1950.
The XK120 was only the first of three different XK production models. In 1954, it was replaced by the better-handling and even better-equipped XK140 which featured rack-and-pinion steering, heavier bumpers and radiator grille and a medallion on the boot lid, indicating that Jaguar had won Le Mans in 1951 and 1953. However, unlike its predecessor, the model number did not reflect the car's top speed for the 140, in closed form, was only capable, flat out, of nearly 132mph. In 1957 the XK150 debuted with wider bodywork, enlarged radiator grille, disc brakes, a curved single-piece windscreen and automatic transmission the latter available only on some late 140s. The last of the XK sports cars was built in the winter of 1960/61, its successor being the E-Type.
The XK140 Drop-head Coupe pictured here is on a ladder-style chassis frame with cruciform, torsion bar independent front suspension and an elliptical leaf spring rear. Up front beneath the bonnet is a factory special-order Type-C/225bhp engine with overdrive and this particular car proudly exhibits less than 11,800 original miles on an odometer neatly positioned within the traditional British type wooden fascia.
The well-trimmed 'drop-head' version first appeared in April 1953 on the XK120 platform and differed from the roadster; it was designed with a tailored and padded soft top with a fully fitted interior, cut-away doors, opening quarter windows and wind-up glass.
This model, with optional wire wheels, exhibits the exquisite, full-width styling Jaguar had achieved at this point. With graceful flanks and not a straight line in sight, a narrow front grille with the headlamps tucked away at each side, the XK140 not only was designed to look remarkable, it was built to be fast and treated the owner with a powerplant that delivered and made all the right noises.