'The Jaguar XK150 is undeniably one of the world's fastest and safest cars. It is quiet and exceptionally refined mechanically, docile and comfortable... we do not know of any more outstanding example of value for money.' - The Autocar.
What would turn out to be the final glorious incarnation of Jaguar's fabulous 'XK' series of sports cars arrived in 1957. As its nomenclature suggests, the XK150 was a progressive development of the XK120 and XK140, retaining the same basic chassis, 3.4-litre engine and four-speed Moss transmission of its predecessors while benefiting from a new, wider body that provided increased interior space and improved visibility courtesy of a single-piece wrap-around windscreen, replacing the XK140's divided screen. Cleverly, the new body used many XK120/140 pressings, the increased width being achieved by means of a 4"-wide central fillet. A higher front wing line and broader radiator grille were other obvious differences, but the new model's main talking point was its Dunlop disc brakes. Fade following repeated stops from high speed had been a problem of the earlier, drum-braked cars, but now the XK had stopping power to match its prodigious straight-line speed.
Introduced in the spring of 1957, the XK150 was available at first only in fixed and drophead coupé forms, the open roadster version not appearing until the following year. At 190bhp, the engine's maximum power output was identical to that of the XK140 so performance was little changed. 'Special Equipment' and 'S' versions came with 210 and 250bhp respectively, the latter delivering an astonishing 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 136mph. This was achieved by the introduction of the Weslake-developed 'straight-port' cylinder head, high-compression pistons, triple 2" SU carburettors and twin electric fuel pumps.
Overdrive and a Borg-Warner automatic gearbox were the transmission options, the latter becoming an increasingly popular choice, while a Thornton Powr-Lok limited-slip differential was available for the XK150 'S'. Steel wheels remained the standard fitting, though XK150s so equipped are a great rarity, as most were sold in 'SE' (Special Equipment) specification with centre-lock wire wheels. The much-admired chromed Jaguar mascot was made available as an optional extra on an XK for the first time.
In the autumn of 1959 the XK150 became available with the 3.8-litre engine first seen in the Mark IX saloon. 'Standard' (220bhp) or 'S' (265bhp) states of tune were offered (the latter featuring overdrive as standard) and in either form the XK150's increased weight was more than offset by the power of the larger engine, the car regularly recording in excess of 130mph in magazine road tests. The 3.8-litre 'S' is one of the rarest of the family with only 282 built out of a total XK150 production of 9,396 cars.
Representing the XK150 in its ultimate configuration, with the 3.8-litre engine and overdrive gearbox, this rare 'S' coupé was manufactured in February 1960 and supplied to Henlys in London. The car was originally finished in black with red interior, the same colour combination it has today. The accompanying original logbook lists only three owners, the last of whom, Harry Walker, acquired the XK in the late 1960s and is recorded as previous keeper on the current V5C.
The present owner purchased the XK from JD Classics in November 2000. JD Classics' correspondence on file states that the car was to be fitted with JD Sport four-pot brake callipers; JD Sport power steering; JD Sport electronic ignition; new chromed wire wheels; JD Sport electric sunroof; auxiliary electric engine cooling fan; and doorframe-mounted rear-view mirrors. Pre-delivery preparation was to include replacing various items of brightwork to include boot lid trim, door handles, etc; removing the wing mirrors; and carrying out an MoT and thorough service. In January 2003, the car was despatched to Forge Garage, Frittenden for a complete overhaul of the engine, gearbox, and overdrive, the former being converted to accept unleaded fuel in the process. A later (up-rated) Jaguar oil pump and an up-rated radiator were fitted also.
The accompanying history file is most comprehensive, containing the aforementioned logbook, JDHT Certificate, sundry bills, a quantity of expired MoTs and tax discs, and a current V5C registration document.