E-type not exclusive enough? Then why not consider the XK150. We explain why they’re such a great choice.
With only its successor the E-type to challenge it, the Jaguar XK150 can lay claim to the title of the greatest post-war production sports car in the world. In their time, they were absolutely without parallel. They have incredible style, a terrific heritage and superb performance – even by the today’s standards. These fine examples of British engineering are also practical too, which is paramount for any old car that’s going to see regular use.
1959 XK150 FHC
Power (bhp@rpm) 220bhp@5500rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 240lb ft3000rpm
Top speed 136mph
Gearbox 4-speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Those long flowing wings and masses of compound curves are a double edged sword – gorgeous to look at, but murder when it comes to restoration. It’s rare to find an example that hasn’t had some form of resto’ work during its lifetime, so your first concern is what’s been done, and to what standard.
A good guide towards the quality of a restoration is to check the ‘waterline’ between front and rear wheels. The front wing, door and rear wing should follow a straight line, without unsightly bulges or dips. Examine the front wings for rust bubbles around the light units, or filler breaking out around the sidelights – they were leaded originally, so should blend seamlessly into the wing itself.
Doors are prone to dropping on their hinges, while the hinge box itself – concealed within the A-post, so not easy to check – is a common rot spot. There should be a ⅜in or so gap between the leading edge and the wing flank when the doors are open. If the doors touching the wing, then the wing may be poorly aligned.
The XK engine’s worst failing is probably its thirst for oil, with consumption of up to a pint every 200 miles being quite normal. Oil leaks are also par for the course – if the rear crank seal is dripping, the engine will have to come out to change it.
Listen for a noisy waterpump, as changing it is a tough job, as the radiator has to be removed to do it. Once warmed up, oil pressure should be around 40psi at 300rpm, dropping to 20psi at idle. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge too, as cooling was marginal even when new – an electric fan is considered a must these days.
Thanks to rack-and-pinion steering, an XK150 should steer precisely, but if there is any slop on the move, then check for tired or torn rubber rack mountings, as well as play in the bushes where the trackrods exit from the rack tube. The latter can be felt by grabbing each trackrod around its rubber gaiter and pulling it forwards and backwards. Worn front suspension bushes are another common issue, so check them for signs of perishing and oil contamination.
XK150s have disc brakes all round. Fit 16in wheels if possible, although some cars end up with 15in E-type rims, due to smaller tyres being cheaper – decide whether originality or practicality is of most importance to you.
XK150s had simple leather covered facias as standard, while the seats were also trimmed in leather, but Vynide or Rexine substitutes were used on other panels. Trim kits are available for the keen DIY enthusiast, but variations between individual cars means they often need work to achieve a respectable fit.
Hoods can also be bothersome, due to the various frames and patterns used during production, so are best made to suit particular cars.
Last of the legendary range of XK sports cars, the 150 remained true to the formula on which Jaguar built a dynasty. A 150S with 3.8-litre engine and triple-carb head effectively offered the same spec as an early E-type, but with the added bonus of that art deco style bodywork. Its character was more comfortable than ever though, seemingly content to fulfil the role of grand tourer – if long distance cruising with a generous dash of panache is your requirement, you won’t go far wrong with an XK150.