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Jaguar XK

Jaguar XK Published: 7th Feb 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar XK
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If there had never been the E-type, Jaguar’s first sports car, the XK, would be held in even higher esteem and it’s hard to think of a better 1950’s sports car that celebrates 70 years of production during 2018.


Compared to an E-type, an XK can’t be called modern to drive – but that’s not such a bad thing because it’s this Jag’s vintage feel that is one of the factors that makes this sportster so engaging and endearing. In period, the XK’s performance was nothing short of astounding. XK’s became progressively faster although the differences in performance are not reflected in cross country speeds however and a well driven 120 would keep up with most 150s on ‘give-and-take’ roads. The difference is in refinement; while a 120 Roadster is a joy over the Snake pass on a Sunday morning, a 3.8 150S really is the sort of car in which to ‘do the Riviera’. XK is a lot roomier and practical than the E-type and is better suited to family jaunts. In essence, an XK feels not unlike a two-seater Mk1 saloon.


As restoration costs can be incredibly steep, and even with values currently high there’s a good chance you won’t get your money back for a fair while so buy the best you can now. If you’re on a budget you’ll certainly have to go for a coupé, as these are worth the least. Roadsters and DHCs are generally worth 80-100 per cent more than fixedheads with 120s (apart from early aluminium cars) worth the least. The most sought after is the XK140, then the XK150; best examples exceeding well over £100K. If you find a XK150S you can expect to pay £15-£20,000 extra over a regular XK150 while a genuine 3.8-litre carries a ten grand £10,000 premium. Aluminium XK120s rarely come up for sale.


1948 Alloy-bodied XK120 launched, old pre-war chassis based but with new XK six-cylinder engine

1951 Steel body is now used, OTS model introduced; and a heater became standard, together with footwell ventilators and a better, lengthened hood

1952 Special Equipment 180bhp introduced which included a racier camshaft, lightened flywheel, higher compression pistons, stiffer suspension and wire wheels

1954 XK140 replacement with roomier body and 2+2 seating, power is 190bhp and 210bhp for SE model Telescopic dampers and rack and pinion fitted

1957 XK150 launched with single design windscreen and revised shape. Similar power

1957 S (250bhp); 1959 3.8-litre added with 220bhp or a 265bhp in ‘S’ form

Best models


The bloated styling is a matter of taste but the benefits are under the skin where a vastly improved chassis lurks. Rear seats are handy


The original and as 2018 marks 70 years of production, this is where interest will be despite the fact that the later cars aren’t so agricultural


Just before the E-type came along the XK was at its zenith and just as rapid. Regular XK150 was also shod with all round disc brakes

Top five faults


Bog standard cars are few and far between. Most mods are worthwhile but XK experts warn that it’s easy to over do it and spoil the character


Chassis rust could mean a real money pit. Crawl underneath and check the suspension mountings and along the frame. Floor rot is very common too. The rear is even worse and in restoration is more often than not replaced as a complete entity


Usual XK trouble spots are over-silent tappets and require re-shimming – 1a major job), rattly timing chains and weeping rear crankshaft oil seals (which you can live with, to be fair). An engine can be completely re-built by a specialist for £5000, plus you can have a 300bhp road/race tune unit

Running gear

Steering wheel wobble on the XK120 is common and hard to dial out; lot of slop in the XK120’s steering can be adjusted out by specialists Check the ride height: if low at the front, then the torsion bar suspension can be reset


Bumper-less cars given a competition appearance usually devalues the car

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