By Wayne Gorrett
‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’,
a maxim that rang loud and true during the heady
motor-racing days around the middle of the last century.
☀ ☀ ☀
Back then, performance meant everything for most car manufacturers and for Jaguar, it reflected in their race-tested and affordable XK series, which took pride of place in their road car catalogue.
Jaguar produced the XK series of cars just after the Second World War, as a means to test the newly-developed XK engine, which was first aired in the astonishingly-fast and eye-catching XK120 (the ‘C’ type), subsequently superseded by the XK140 in 1954.
In true Jaguar development style, the subsequent XK150 produced from 1957 to 1961, retained the good parts of the previous models but offered more in the way of speed, handing and refinement.
Talk of the XK150 focussed on its new Dunlop disc brakes. Brake fade from repeated high-speed stops had been a problem of the earlier, drum-braked cars, but now the XK had stopping power to match its prodigious straight-line speed.
Climbing in, a discreet but wonderful aroma of old leather, grease and oil permeates a general air of quality. Two separate main seats can be laterally adjusted for the tallest driver. The driving position is comfortable and typically ‘flat’ for its day. The main controls fall well to hand, visibility is good and, while the bonnet is not aggressively long, it remains largely unseen.
Once warmed up, the lively, white-knuckle acceleration continues through the power band. There is a wonderful sensation of having almost unlimited power underfoot. Steering, while heavy and cumbersome at slow speeds, ran straight and true at 50mph. When asked, it stopped quickly, without fuss and in a straight line.
Tootling around the bustling streets of London on a warm, summers afternoon – sans seat belts or any semblance of modern safety kit – was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. Built in an era long before the words ‘health’ and ‘safety’ ungraciously removed the ‘Great’ from our collective Britain, the XK150 remains a thunderously glorious machine.
It delivers a true assault on the senses and is a notable milestone in the evolution of British sports and performance cars.
* Engine: 3.8 litre, straight six, triple SU HD8 carburettors
* Power: 265bhp @ 5,500rpm
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Performance: 0-62mph in 7.3secs, top speed 136mph.
* Fuel consumptions (mpg): City 13, cruising 22, combined 19.
* Equipment: 12-volt lighting, speedometer, rev-counter, oil pressure and water temperature gauges, ammeter, fuel gauge, clock. cigar lighter, self-parking windscreen wipers and washers. sliding heater control, two side mirrors.
* Original price: £2,065, 4s 2p – including purchase tax.
* Current value: Approximately £68,000.
Grateful thanks to:
Classic Car Club London for the drive.
Seán Ward for the photography, and
V&OAK Magazine for giving me a reason to drive it.