One of the toughest challenges facing an automotive designer is updating or refreshing a stunningly beautiful car that raised the standards for its class when it was introduced. In the mid-1950s, Jaguar designers confronted this problem head-on when it came time to update the Jaguar XK 120/140. The result was the Jaguar XK 150, a car that captured the essence of the iconic XK 120/140, yet offered comfort and features that were heretofore unattainable in a Jaguar sports car.
To fully appreciate the XK 150, you have to go back to the Earls Court Motor Show of 1948, where the introduction of the Jaguar XK 120 quite literally stunned the automotive world. In only three short years after the end of World War II, Jaguar had presented a sports car that had everything: an incredibly beautiful roadster body; an immensely strong chassis; and a sophisticated and powerful engine that would still be powering Jaguars into the 1980s. All this at a time when most car manufacturers were still trying to sell their pre-war designs.
The XK 150, introduced in 1957 as a 1958 model, was the final iteration of the Jaguar XK series. The chassis was carried over from the XK 140, except for the addition of four wheel disc brakes, a first for a production car. The chassis carried a new body that retained the styling features of the original XKs, but molded them into a more organic form that successfully captured the evolution of the series.
The new, wider body had a one-piece curved windshield, a traditional but more delicate grille, roll-up windows, and front fenders that had a more subdued dip at the cockpit than their predecessors. Initially, the XK 150 was offered as a drop-head coupe with a padded folding top (a convertible to us Yanks) and a fixed-head coupe, both with rudimentary rear seats. Later on in 1958, Jaguar introduced the XK 150 roadster that replaced the folding top with a removable top, did away with the rear seat, and moved the windshield cowling further rearward, creating a longer hood.
The XK 150 remained in production until 1961. Over its lifespan, 4,445 Fixed Head Coupes, 2,672 Convertibles, and 2,265 Roadsters were sold for total sales of 9,382 cars.
What replaced the XK 150 in 1961? Another devastatingly beautiful Jaguar, the XK E—but that’s a story for another decade.
Photo by Sicnag
GB Classic Cars http://www.gbclassiccars.co.uk/jaguar_xk150.html
Jaguar Database http://www.car-nection.com/jagbase/jxk150.htm
Ate Up with Motor http://ateupwithmotor.com/model-histories/jaguar-xk120/