Two California owners from new, original black plate
1956 Jaguar XK140 Drophead Coupé
Chassis no. S818031DN
Engine no. G5728-8S
Launched in 1954, the Jaguar XK140 was broadly similar to, though more refined than its sensational XK120 predecessor, major engineering changes being confined to the repositioning of the engine three inches further forward and the adoption of rack-and-pinion steering as used on the racing C-Type. The suspension and brakes remained much as before, though with stiffer torsion bars at the front and telescopic shock absorbers replacing the previous lever type at the rear. Like its XK120 forbear, the XK140 was built in three model types: roadster, coupé and drophead coupé, the latter two offering usefully increased cabin space and occasional rear seats. Outwardly the newcomer was distinguishable by its revised radiator grille, rear lights incorporating flashing indicators, and larger bumpers - the latter adopted to withstand the cut and thrust of urban parking.
The power unit remained Jaguar's well-tried, 3.4-liter, twin-cam six, which now produced 190bhp in standard trim thanks to higher-lift camshafts and revised porting. To ensure reliability, steel bearing-caps replaced the previous cast-iron type. A close-ratio gearbox enabled better use to be made of the increased performance, and Laycock de Normanville overdrive became an option for the first time. Special Equipment XK140s came with wire wheels and Lucas fog lamps, and could be ordered with an engine developing 210bhp courtesy of the C-Type cylinder head. XK140 performance was well up to the standards set by its exemplary predecessor, contemporary magazine road-tests regularly recording top speed figures in excess of 120mph.
This two-owners-from-new XK140 Drophead Coupé was originally ordered by Ralph N Baker of Newport Beach, California through Hornburg Jaguar in Santa Monica. Outfitted in Pastel Blue with Dark Blue leather piped in contrasting Light Blue and topped with a Dark Blue 'hood', Mr Baker kept the car until 1978 when he put the car up for sale in the Los Angeles Times with an asking price of $4,900. The vendor, searching for an XK of his own, spotted the ad and went to look at the car. A complete, properly used car, it was apparent that the Mr. Baker had enjoyed many sunny days in the car as it had been repainted in a non-original color and the interior had faded beyond recognition.
Upon purchasing the Jag in March 1978, an extensive restoration was undertaken to bring the car back to its former glory. With the help of original build records obtained from the factory, a three year long bare-metal restoration by Phoenix Classic Motors was undertaken, producing a car not unlike what had left Coventry in November 1955.
Today, after over three decades of careful maintenance, this California car is now offered to a future third owner. The restoration has mellowed slightly in the ensuing decades, but overall still shows very nicely. It is rare to find a 56 year old car that has only had two owners and spent its life in beautiful California, let alone one as nice as this!