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Lot '99: Jaguar XK150SE Drophead

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (23 June 2010)

Sitting here in our computerised 21st century world of 200mph+ supercars, it is hard to imagine the impact that Jaguar's XK range had when it was launched way back in 1948. At a time of bleak postwar austerity when the average family saloon could barely crack 60mph and might take a week to get there, here was an outrageously sexy sportscar with a twin-cam race-bred engine that could smash past 60 in just a few seconds on its way to a top speed of 120mph.

Outstanding motorcars by any standards, the three XK models from the William Lyons stable remained in production for 13 years and simply got better as time went on. Last of the line was the sensational XK150 of 1957, safer, faster and roomier than the XK140 it replaced. Available in roadster, drophead and fixed-head coupe form, it was initially powered by a 190bhp 3.4-litre six, but eventually had a magnificent triple-carb 3.8-litre unit that produced 265bhp and could crack 60 in 7.2 seconds with a top speed of 135mph. Stopping power was also vastly improved thanks to the adoption of the disc brake technology that Jaguar had honed at Le Mans. The XK150 remained in production until late 1960 by which time some 9,300 had been sold.

First registered in June 1960, this particular car is a very late example which began life as a UK market right-hand drive XK150SE 3.4-litre fixed-head coupe. It had one lady owner for the first six years then four more owners up to 1977 when it was put into storage for almost 30 years. About five years ago it was acquired by the current vendor who decided to embark on a money-no-object transformation into a drophead coupe.

The car was dispatched to XK specialist John Brown of Leaping Cats, Coventry, where a new body was made and fitted although the original bulkhead was retained. Great care was taken to achieve perfect panel gaps and nylon packing spacers were used throughout in place of the traditional aluminium items to avoid future bimetallic corrosion problems. The bonnet was louvred to promote cool running.

The original 3.4-litre engine was removed and totally stripped and rebuilt with the accent on day-to-day reliability and increased performance. It now features a gas-flowed ported head fitted with D-Type cams, triple 2-inch SU carbs with 2-inch brass flame traps and 300 micron mesh filters, high output oil pump and high torque starter motor. The Laycock overdrive gearbox was also rebuilt and a purple sprung clutch cover and Borg & Beck clutch plate fitted.

The negative earth electrical system was also renewed and upgraded with an alternator and improved lighting. All the suspension and steering was totally renewed and the brakes upgraded with Coopercraft Series 3 E-Type brakes to the front and 2.125 diameter cylinders on the rear to balance the handling, along with an uprated master cylinder and servo. New wire wheels and tyres and a stainless steel exhaust system were also fitted.

The interior was completely retrimmed by Mick Turley of Nuneaton with custom-made front bucket seats in black hide with red piping (the original front seats were also retrimmed in the same style and are included with the car if desired). Other touches include a MotaLita steering wheel, 12v negative earth radio, fire extinguisher, pre-war Desmo Jaguar bonnet mascot, jack and mallet. The full specification is too detailed to list here but over £61,000 was spent in parts alone, excluding any labour costs.

Needless to say the car is now said to drive superbly with very impressive performance and has only covered some 5,000 miles since the restoration was completed. More than capable of holding its own in modern traffic conditions, it comes with a large file of bills and is currently MOTd until April 2011 and taxed until November. The car is only reluctantly being sold because the owner is now 73 and his wife wants him to slow down and buy a boat! This is a fabulously well-sorted car that should remain in prime condition for many years to come and will be a fine addition to any enthusiast's collection.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number'99
Estimate£75000-£80000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1960
Condition rating0
Registration number292 AXT
Mileage-
Chassis numberS825261
Engine numberV7556-8
Engine capacity (cc)3442
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors