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Launched in 1957 the XK150 was the most radical step forward in the XK range since the launch of the revolutionary XK120. The XK150 was vastly different in both style and performance from the XK140 it replaced and was a much bigger step forward than had been taken from the XK120 to the XK140. The most striking change was the straighter wing line, widened bonnet and single wrap around windscreen, which replaced the now dated two-piece split screen. This gave the XK150 an altogether more modern look. More generous interior space was also achieved by putting the doors on a diet and the wooden interior was lost in favour of leather clad dashboard and door capping.
Although the most obvious changes were the styling the XK150 was also a radical step forward in terms of performance. Most notably disc brakes on all four corners of the car, which had been developed on the ‘C’-type with Dunlop, made the XK150 the first of the XK range able to stop as well as it could go. All round disc brakes on a road car were revolutionary for the time and set the XK150 apart from its competitors. A new cylinder head, the ‘B’-type, was added to the 3.4-liter engine producing a claimed 210bhp.
Initially the XK150 was offered in Drop Head Coupé (DHC) and Fixed Head Coupé (FHC) form however in late 1958 a ‘Roadster’ or Open Two Seated (OTS) variant was introduced. This coincided with the ‘S’ version of the car, initially available on the OTS but available on the Coupé models form early 1959.
The ‘S’ specification XK150 came with what Jaguar called a “straight port cylinder head”; although the ports aren’t actually straight they are straighter and wider than the standard head allowing for better air flow. To keep pace with this increased potential for air/fuel flow triple 2in SU carburetors were added. According to Jaguar this upped the power to 250bhp.
By this point the power race was truly on, especially in America, so to compete with large capacity American V8s Jaguar introduced a new 3.8-liter version of their straight six. In standard form the new 3.8 was claimed to produce 220bhp and in ‘S’ specification the power was reported to be 265bhp.
By then end of its production run there were a huge array of different XK150 models. It was available in DHC, FHC and OTS body styles, in standard specification, SE specification or S specification and with either a 3.4 or 3.8 engine. Although early standard cars were fitted with steel wheels, these are very uncommon now. There are also reports that some early, ‘standard’ specification cars had drum brakes we are yet to see, or hear of an XK150 running on drums or having ever run on drums.
In 1961 the XK150 was replaced by the ‘E’-type, a car that was as revolutionary and striking as the original XK120 was in its time. Over its 13 year production run the XK had revolutionised the sports car industry, put Jaguar on the map as a global playing in the car market and helped lead the way in helping British industry recover after the war.
XK150 OTS 'S'