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Lot 086: Jaguar XK150S 3.4 Roadster

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (13 July 2011)

Has Jaguar ever built a more beautiful road car than this? Yes, the E-Type is a wonderful thing but, to these eyes at least, the XK150 Roadster possesses a visual grandeur that is hard to beat. Supremely lithe and muscular, it looks stunning from every angle as one graceful line flows harmoniously into another.

Good as it looks today, it must have been even more sensational when the XK range 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, the XK120 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. The fact that this epic machine emerged from the shattered ruins of Coventry only made it all the more remarkable.

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 majestic XK150 of 1957, safer, faster and roomier than the XK140 it replaced. Available in roadster, drophead and fixed-head coupe form, it was powered by the superb 3.4-litre XK engine from the 140 but now with 190bhp and more torque thanks to a revised cylinder head design. This was sufficient to propel the car to 60mph in 8.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 125mph.

It also shared the same independent torsion bar front suspension, live leaf-sprung rear axle and rack-and-pinion steering, but had vastly improved stopping power thanks to the all-round Dunlop disc brake technology that Jaguar had pioneered at Le Mans. Wider and roomier than its predecessor, it also had more modern lines, a bigger one-piece windscreen and a padded leather dashboard in place of the wood in the 140.

In the Spring of 1958 a high-performance 'S' version of the 150 was launched, now with triple SU carbs, a straight port head and numerous other tweaks that boosted power to a claimed 250bhp. When tested by Motor magazine, a 3.4S could reach 60mph in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 132mph. In 1960 the engine was enlarged to 3.8-litres and in this form the S version now pumped out 265bp and could sprint to 60mph in 7 seconds and top 135mph.

The XK150 remained in production until November 1960 by which time some 9,396 had been built of which just 92 were right-hand drive roadsters. It is not clear how many of these were S spec models but it was certainly only a very small proportion, making this car an extremely rare beast indeed.

As its accompanying Heritage Certificate confirms, chassis number T820007DN was built in November 1958 and despatched to Henlys of London the following month. British Racing Green with a Suede Green interior and a manual overdrive gearbox, it was sold to first owner JHL Copper of Belmont with the registration number VYR 764 on December 12th. Nothing is known of the subsequent history of the car until it was acquired by the current vendor in May 1977.

Many bills and documents on file show that the car was substantially restored between 1981 and 1985 by Thoroughbred Sports Cars of Witney but that the work carried on so long and the bills escalated so much that the owner had to resort to legal action to resolve the matter and reclaim the car.

This matter was not resolved until 1992 (during which period the car remained unused in Witney) at which point a very detailed report from an independent engineer concluded that: The work that has been done to the chassis and body is to a very high standard, only a small amount of work could make this part of the car a potential show/concours unit. However, the mechanical work can only be assumed to be of the same standard and only completion and road testing will show any problems.

Once the car was retrieved from Witney it was sent to noted Aston Martin restorers, Goldsmith & Young of Mere, Wiltshire, to be finished off between 1993 and 1995. This included a full interior retrim in tan leather (including door cards), a new hood, a bare metal repaint, complete rewire, and a full engine strip and rebuild including conversion to run on unleaded. The total cost of this work was just over �29,000 (bills on file). Since then the car has been very little used and, needless to say, it remains in fine cosmetic condition throughout apart from the odd minor paint blemish here and there.

Earlier this year the car was fitted with a new clutch. Uprated Coopercraft brakes have also been fitted, along with halogen headlamps and a single 12v battery system. At some point in the distant past the block has been replaced with a larger 3.8-litre unit, although it still retains the original triple carb head (no. VS1634-9) which has been modified to run on unleaded fuel.

The rarest of the all the XK models, the 150S Roadster is a hugely desirable machine by any standards. This example, on the market for the first time in 34 years and with uprated brakes and engine, is sure to prove a worthy addition to any collection. Not to mention the immense pleasure to be had from piloting such a glamorous machine down your favourite road, hood down, on a warm summer's evening. We love it.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
Lot Number086
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£71000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating0
Registration numberVYR 764
Chassis numberT820007DN
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)3781
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2