When the XK140 took over as Jaguar’s flagship sports car in 1954, it had a serious challenge, following in the tracks of the spectacular XK120. True, it looked a lot like the car it followed, but there were quite a few differences, too. The large bumpers and heavier cast grille may have taken away a little of the model’s inherent grace, but this new trim provided far better protection from the large Detroit behemoths that populated the sports car’s largest market in America.
And while the weight went up slightly, so did the power of the 3.4-liter, twin cam six, which was up to 190 horsepower in standard trim. As a result, performance remained on a par with its predecessor. The uprated engine was mated to the same four-speed manual unit used in the XK120, although overdrive was now available.
From introduction three bodies were offered: the open two seater, a drophead, and a fixed head with 2+2 seating. In 1955, a three-speed automatic became optional on the drophead and fixed head coupe. There was further model proliferation in that each of the three body styles were offered in three versions: the standard car, the M version with dual exhaust, wire wheels and fog lamps, and the MC, which received all the M equipment as well as the cylinder head from the competition C-Type. The top of the line MC (known in the UK as SE) was rated at 210 bhp.
Although the basic chassis remained the unchanged, the biggest difference was that the XK140 was fitted with rack and pinion steering, which improved the handling substantially.
When production ceased in 1957, a total of 8,884 XK140 had been built, and the model had been successful at retaining Jaguar’s sports car sales in its most important market—North America.
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