Return to Original? 1957 Jaguar XK140

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Fitting a pushrod V8 engine into a Jaguar is something that has been going on for years now. However, I’m sure that there are more than a few purists who are going to look at this Jaguar XK140 and be horrified by the fact that its original 3.4-liter straight-six engine has made way for a 302ci Ford V8. The good news for those people is that there is always the option available to return the car to its original specifications, and doing this might even make sound economic sense. Bidding for the Jaguar has been solid, and at the time of writing, it has reached $12,900, although the reserve has not been met. Located in Manchester, Connecticut, you will find the Jaguar listed for sale here on eBay.

The owner of the Jaguar says that the body is good, and while the car could definitely benefit from a repaint, it does look to be quite promising. There is no visible rust or corrosion, and all of the glass and trim appears to be present. One thing that is slightly unusual with this Jaguar is the fitting of rear fender skirts. They may not be super rare, but cars fitted with these are certainly in the minority. The fitting of these also meant that the car could not be fitted with wire wheels, as the knock-offs for the wire wheels would foul on the skirts.

It’s what’s under the hood that makes this XK140 different. The car has been fitted with a 1970-vintage 302ci Ford V8 engine and automatic transmission. While there will by Jaguar purists out there who will be hyperventilating, I will throw a bit of a positive spin into any potential debate. I would love to see the original engine under the hood, but there are some advantages to the current configuration. The 302 is essentially bullet-proof, and parts are extremely easy and cheap to source for them. If you look at the engine fitment, the 302 will actually provide slightly better weight distribution than the Jaguar six, as it is physically shorter. Finally, as a cruiser, the extra lumps of torque available from that Ford V8 should make the Jaguar a bit more relaxed to drive, especially on twisting roads. However, there is no reason why the new owner couldn’t source a date correct engine and transmission and return the car to its original specifications.

It’s a bit hard to be sure, but it does appear that the XK140 might be missing a few interior trim pieces. The door trims look to be absent, while the rest of the interior looks to be complete, but maybe a little tired. The timber dash doesn’t have the sort of rich glow that we have come to expect from a Jaguar of this era. It also looks like the leather trim might benefit from a clean and condition. I don’t think that there’s anything in the car that needs replacing, just restoring.

The fitting of an American V8 engine to a Jaguar has now been a common occurrence for decades. However, the most common transplant has been a Chevrolet small-block engine into an early to mid-1970s sedan such as an XJ6 or XJ12. To see a transplant into a classic 1950s Jaguar sports car is highly unusual. This is where this particular car becomes an interesting proposition. It would be very easy to leave it in its current mechanical configuration, give it a light refurbishment, and to then drive it as it is. The other alternative would be to source a date correct engine and transmission, and then restore the car to original. This is an option that might prove to be an attractive proposition, as a good XK140 will command prices well in excess of $70,000, while an immaculate car will fetch $100,000 or more. Now, there’s an interesting point to ponder.

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Comments

  1. Howard A. Howard AMember

    Let me be the 1st to say, yes, I’m horrified. They butchered one of the nicest cars ever made. What’s wrong with these people?

    Like 12
    • Andy

      Do you have to hack big pieces out of the frame to do this conversion? If not, how is this butchering? Just find an engine in a Jag that had its rear end pulled for a kit car. Or better yet, for only a hundred grand, you could probably get Jaguar to do a full electric conversion.

      Like 3
    • DNC

      agreed. So sad to destroy a piece of art

      Like 1
  2. Coventrycat

    In the 70’s it would have been fair game. I wouldn’t have done it, but I can understand why it did. I could live with it, but with a nicer shift lever.

    Like 14
  3. Jesse

    At least they made it reliable!

    Like 8
    • Harry

      And what is wrong with XK engine? With carburators it’s most reliable engine ever made and more powerful than 302..

      Like 0
  4. Beatnik Bedouin

    It was surprisingly common to see this kind of swap when these cars were considered ‘clapped-out old sports cars’. The Jag XK-series inline six’s rebuild costs were usually much higher, compared to dropping in a small-block Ford (as it’s quite narrow and the fact that the distributor is mounted at the front) or Chevy V8 (mostly found in XJ6-12 models).

    I wonder if this Fixed-Head Coupe was originally an automatic, as I have seen a few that were?

    Like 2
  5. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Not everyone that like the styling of the car is capable of handling the oem engine issues or has the $$ to keep it on the road over time. That’s why IMO there have been so may engine transplants done to Jags. It’s been done, I expect will be done more in the future.
    I remember reading once where Larry Flynn of Hustler magazine, after having engine related issues with a Rolls Royce had it’s engine changed out for a Chevy engine plus had a sunroof cut into it. People will do what they want with their own cars including this one.

    Like 8
  6. Capt.R. Douglas Miller
  7. Ben T. Spanner

    I was a foreign car mechanic in the 1960’s when XK120’s and XK140’s were daily drivers. I continued to mess with Jaguars for 30 years. I only saw 1 blown up 3.4 or 3.8 Jaguar engine. It is similar to an urban myth that dropping in a junkyard V8 will make the entire car as reliable as a Chevy Biscane.
    This car was not necessarily butchered when the lump of an engine was installed, but you never know. I go to the gym with a guy who has a 1967 sedan that had a Ford 302, but was converted back to a 3.8.

    Like 4
  8. Maestro1

    I think it’s a matter of personal taste. One can either leave the drivetrain as is but change the shift lever in the interior to something more restrained, or go for another 3.8 and install that one instead. I would go either way, concentrating on
    the cosmetics to bring the car back to its original stunning beauty.

    Like 1
  9. Gaspumpchas

    IMHO-the 302 is the best thing that ever happened to this jag. Seems to be a nice swap- I do hope that the guy didn’t butcher the underneath in case someone does want to return it to stock. Sleeper!!!

    Cheers
    GPC

    Comments from an old grey hair that thinks there’s nothing superior to American Iron!!

    Like 3
  10. Jim ZMember

    Double Ugghh!
    Lumped…and with a Ford no less.
    Hope he plans to keep it forever, as resale is ‘zippo’ .
    This car’s owner does not deserve a Jaguar!

    Like 2
  11. Andrew S MaceMember

    I’ve love to find a ’68 Country Squire like my family had back in the day. I wonder if a Jag six would fit in that engine bay? ;)

    Like 2
  12. That Guy

    This was almost certainly done many decades ago, when a Jaguar XK was just a used sports car. Consider it a blank canvas on which to create your own artwork.

    Like 0

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