1960 JAGUAR XK150 3.8 S DROPHEAD COUPE BY JOHN MAY, 1960
RACING GREEN WITH BISCUIT HIDE INTERIOR
STRAIGHT-SIX 3781cc 265 BHP DOHC ENGINE WITH THREE SU CARBURETORS, JAGUAR OVERDRIVE GEARBOX WITH 2.7 RATIO, POWER STEERING, WIRE WHEELS, BUCKET SEATS IN LEATHER.
Our car started life as a rare and desirable XK150 3.8S Fixed Head Coupe which has been made even more desirable with fast-road upgrades and enhancements by renowned Jaguar marque specialists John May/XK Developments of Tewkesbury, and Trafford Competition Engines of Malvern including an expensive and rare conversion to Drophead Coupe. It remains a matching Numbers car and presents in a beautifully restored condition.
'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.
This XK150 3.8S was restored in 2009, and there is a full photographic record of both the mechanical and body restoration. There is also an impressive history file, which includes, invoices for works, invoices for parts, the green log book, subsequent V5s, historic RFL discs and MOT certificates. With prices of factory Drophead Coupes appearing around the £350,000 mark in todays market this car presents an interesting option for less than half this price. It remains a correct Matching Numbers 3.8S and could also be converted back to Fixed Head Coupe if desired. The condition and restoration is second to none and the car drives perfectly.