The XK 140 was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1954. It was essentially a re-engineered XK 120 intended specifically for the North American market—a market becoming increasingly more important to Jaguar. Nearly 90 percent of all models were sold with left-hand drive and exported stateside during the model run from 1954–1957. All three body styles of the 120 were retained with styling similar to its forerunner, but most important was a roomier cockpit.
Jaguar moved the bulkhead three inches forward, affording more legroom for tall drivers. The dashboard was raised an inch to give extra room beneath the steering wheel, and roadsters were given an extra three inches of seat travel. These changes combined to make the XK 140 cockpit a more pleasing driving environment for American drivers. Lucas J700 headlamps, different front turn indicators and rear taillights, number plate mountings, and for the first time, a boot lid handle, would subtly change the exterior appearance over the XK 120.
Badging proclaimed Jaguar’s Le Mans wins, and the chrome strip that ran down the bonnet continued on the boot lid, which, like the bonnet and doors, would be skinned in aluminum. An improved cooling system with an eight-blade fan, rack and pinion steering, sturdier bumpers, and a single 12-volt battery replaced the twin 6-volt units that lived under the bonnet (rather than behind the seats). Many enthusiasts consider the XK 140 the pinnacle of the XK series of Jaguars, offering a combination of XK 120 style with the comfort and usability of the later XK 150.
This particular car carries the highly desirable MC designation (known as SE elsewhere) used only in North America; “M” denotes modified and “C” refers to the C-type cylinder head as used on the racing XKC. Horsepower is further increased to 210 in the MC version thanks to the C-type head option with its bigger valves and improved porting. Only the twin exhaust gives it away from the exterior.
This is one of just 1,455 drophead coupes built for 1955, and it retains its original matching-numbers engine. Painted in classic Black with a black canvas top over Burgundy hides, it is equipped with black wall tires on chrome wire wheels. The car has benefited from a frame-off restoration to original specifications. This refurbishment was completed prior to 2011, during which time the the last owner purchased the vehicle.
Since acquiring the car, the Jaguar has enjoyed a pampered life. It has been meticulously maintained and enjoyed during the fine weather days of summer. The car is a pleasure to drive. The engine has spirited performance, thanks to the “C” cylinder head. The transmission shifts smoothly through the gears and the clutch has a positive feel. The cabin is roomier than the roadster and has a wonderful stately, yet sporty feel. The leather is soft and supple with the mild aroma of English tanned hides.
This is a wonderful automobile to drive and enjoy. Its perfect for an afternoon outing, a tour through the countryside or a day on the concours field.