Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Rusty Cat: 1956 Jaguar XK140 MC Drophead Coupe

How much rust is tolerable in a vintage car? I’m supposing most of you would say, depends on the car and where it is…. How about a 1956 Jaguar XK140 drophead coupe, and how about “all over”? Let’s consider what this old cat is worth, listed here on eBay and located in Norwell, Massachusetts. On the positive side of the ledger is the MC designation: the venerable XK engine is equipped with the high-compression C-type head, raising the power output of the entire package to 210 hp. This car is also a drophead coupe – a slightly less common configuration considered more luxe than the roadster with wind-up windows, outside door handles, sound insulation, and a windscreen frame integral to the body. But this example is a veritable symphony of corrosion, expensive to restore, and at $19,500 or best offer, not cheap. Meanwhile, prices for ’50s XKs have been declining, decreasing the incentive to incur restoration expenses. Chuck Foster found this derelict for us – thanks, Chuck!

The silky 3.4 liter, DOHC in-line six-cylinder in standard form was equipped with twin SU H6 carburetors (1.75″) and good for 190 bhp. The MC engine received a C-type head with enlarged ports and bigger valves, increasing power to the aforementioned 210 horses; the head is painted red (clearly seen above) to distinguish it from the more proletariat option. The gearbox is a four-speed manual; overdrive was available at extra cost as was a three-speed Borg-Warner automatic. This engine hasn’t run in a long time, but the seller says the mechanicals are numbers matching throughout. The car does roll and steer.

Here’s a great representation of the rusty shamble a new owner faces. Even the transmission tunnel is holed through. Parts are missing – trim, handles, switches – and what is there very likely needs to be rebuilt, from the steering wheel to the gauges. Thanks to galvanic corrosion, the builder’s plate is almost unreadable.

The body of the XK140 afforded occupants more space than its predecessor thanks to a re-engineered engine bay that moved the motor forward. The bumpers are heavier than the XK120 versions, with a fluted design that offers slightly more protection. The wire wheels are virtually worthless – it’s difficult to rebuild these now, even when they’re not rusted solid. And that’s another point: if one purchases this car for parts, scads of patience will be required just to dismantle it. Rust is ironically disintegrating the car at the same time it refuses to let go of fasteners. I’m not sure I could even call this a project car; what do you think?


  1. Aussie Dave Aussie Dave Member

    I like it,
    Yes there’s rust, but,
    Jaguar can supply everything you need to restore this cat, or restore it for you.

    You want get your money back (not this century) but you will have a car that you just want to drive and enjoy.
    And cars like this are meant to be enjoyed.

    Like 11
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    If there is enough left here to restore I’d appreciate someone who knows restoration to convince me it’s possible to do so on this car.

    Like 11
    • Troy

      With the proper amount of money most any restoration is possible

      Like 7
      • Jim

        With the proper amount of money you can build one from scratch.

        Like 8
      • Carlos


        Like 0
  3. 9 lives

    Eight more lives left

    Hope it get restored

    Like 7
  4. Mike

    If this can be saved, there is hope for the Titanic.

    Like 15
  5. gippy

    Considering the body and frame are probably shot, the mechanicals and little bits are still worthwhile. Hood and decklid are aluminum, so still useable. 5K for a guy with another 140 project, just to get the hard to find bits and pieces so long as he is within reasonable pickup distance.

    Like 6
  6. Lance

    This site should be renamed. No longer barn finds but swamp finds.

    Like 6
  7. Casey

    My advice ….Get a tetanus shot before you start this project !

    Like 10
  8. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    When I saw the first picture, I immediately assumed that it was in Astoria-Queens, NYC and Peter Kumar was asking $40K for it.

    Like 7
    • Nick

      There is someone on eBay with a longstanding habit of posting Jaguars that are, at best, complete basketcases like this one and still asking ‘real money’. Is that him? I often look at this listings just to see how absurd they can be.

      Like 2
    • jwaltb

      Or Beverly Hills Motor Cars or whatever it’s called.

      Like 2
  9. Don

    Which ocean did they drag that out of? Atlantic or Pacific?

    Like 6
  10. Roger Larson

    I have a oil pan full of parts for one of these.

    Like 2
  11. Lawrence Smith

    This is a parts car nothing more ,I have owned Jags. back in England they are nice cars , but this is a RUST BASKET CASE, not worth more than 2k-3k.

    Like 8
  12. Josh

    Nothing Earl Scheid could not fix and paint for just $99.99.

    Like 6
    • Jim

      Oh, I don’t know. He doesn’t mask off the trim properly!!

      Like 2
    • jwaltb


      Like 0
  13. RichardinMaine

    I’m a hopeless Jaguar fanboy since the first E Type, but this is beyond hopeless. I hope someone with much money, and dedication beyond fanatic, saves it just because it’s an MC and they can.

    Like 3
  14. Joe Mec Member

    Looks like the owner is trying ride the BAT wave. Nice dreams if he gets $19500. even $1950 Looks high! Anyone $195.95! (I know the drivetrain is probably worth something) It’s shame to to think at one time this car was brand new!!! I love the lines of this car. I think It is one the best looking cars ever made! Bid on this one? NOT!!!

    Like 1
  15. Lee Norman

    Anyone thinking about restoring this car, or should I say the rust bucket, has not given it enough thought. It would be much cheaper to buy a semi-restored car with less rust.

    Like 5
  16. mike

    I don’t think even if in England anybody would try to restore this poor cat.

    Like 3
  17. Laurence

    Rather than calling this an XK-140, I would say it is what is left of a drop-head XK-140. It can be conventionally restored for a whole lot more than it would be worth in the end. However, there is a side of me that would be very sad to see this cat lost to the world as a parts car/mainly heap of rust. If someone who really knows a lot about working on these cars and CUSTOM FABRICATION, were to take it on as a long-term 20-30-year labour of love, it could be gradually brought back from the land of the dead…but for anything like this to happen, that near-twenty thousand asking price would have to come down substantially.

    Most of what one has to work with is a badly oxidised identity plate, a handful of usable parts, a drivetrain in need of total restoration, plenty of rusted parts to use as templates for new custom-made replacements, and the dream of seeing it back in its original glory…a dream that would be kept alive by the rusted-out body panels to remind the owner of what it’s going to look like when re-bodied/painted nicely and with new, glittering chrome wire wheels to set the whole thing off. I hope someone is able to adopt this stray.

    Like 3
  18. Chris Cornetto

    Wow!, one of the other vehicles from the Andrea Doria’s cargo hold. I guess the Norsmen is next…….

    Like 2
  19. Troy

    Get it running and driving, Polish the chrome fix the semi fix the interior and just drive it.

    Like 0
    • jwaltb

      Yeah right.

      Like 1
  20. Darrell Knox

    I could kick myself….many times! In 1967 I had a chance to buy a 1956 XK-140 with the 190 hp engine in decent condition via a mechanic’s lien of $150.00, in Saco, Maine. The fuel pump was shot and the owner, who lived in Massachusetts, would not pay the mechanic to fix it, nor would he remove it from the cramped repair shop yard. But I was 19, new in town, living in a 2nd floor apartment, with no place to put the car, few mechanical skills, and a wife disinclined to indulge my interest in that beautiful Jag!

    Like 0
  21. Paul

    Strong wind and that coach would disappear.

    Like 1
  22. Richard

    It’s a parts car, and that is such a shame.

    Like 0
  23. Kenn

    As always when I see something like this, I wonder how anyone could allow such a beautiful automobile to deteriorate to this condition. Perhaps a love of beautiful cars is not as universal as I would hope. I agree with most the comments here: too much is gone to attempt full restoration. Or any level of restoration. A parts car, price should not be over $5K.

    Like 0
  24. Eric

    I see old farm implements and even old garden tractors rustoliumed black or primer red.

    Sell the engine and whatever else someone wants and yard art what’s left.

    Like 2

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.