What would turn out to be the final glorious incarnation of Jaguar’s fabulous ‘XK’ series of sports car arrived in 1957. As its nomenclature suggests, the XK150 was a progressive development of the XK120 and XK140, retaining the same basic chassis, 3.4-litre engine and four-speed Moss transmission of its predecessors while benefiting from a new, wider body that provided increased interior space and improved visibility courtesy of a single-piece wrap-around windscreen, replacing the XK140’s divided screen. Cleverly, the new body used many XK120/ 140 pressings, the increased width being achieved by means of a 100mm-wide central fillet. A higher front wing line and broader radiator grille were other obvious differences, but the new model’s main talking point was its Dunlop disc brakes. Fade following repeated stops from high speed had been a problem of the earlier, drum-braked cars, but now the XK had stopping power to match its prodigious straight-line speed.

Introduced in the spring of 1957, the XK150 was available at first only in fixed and drophead, ‘2+2’ coupé forms, the open two-seater version not appearing until the following year. Disc brakes apart, the chassis remained much as before, as did the 3.4-litre, six-cylinder engine that produced 190bhp as standard or 210bhp in ‘Special Edition’ form when fitted with the ‘B’-type cylinder head. The four-speed Moss gearbox continued while overdrive and automatic transmission were optional. “The Jaguar XK150 is undeniably one of the world’s fastest and safest cars. It is quiet and exceptionally refined mechanically, docile and comfortable..we do not know of any more outstanding example of value for money”, concluded the authoritative Autocar magazine.

For those who demanded even greater performance an ‘S’ option became available concurrently with the launch of the sportiest ‘OTS’ (open two-seater) roadster bodystyle. Distinguishable by its gold painted, straight port head, the ‘S’ boasted triple SU carburettors, free flow inlet manifold, 9:1 pistons, lead bronze bearings and a lightened flywheel, these features helping to liberate 250bhp. The later 3.8 version claimed an extra 15bhp but experts agree that the 3.4 ‘S’ is the sweetest of all XK engines.

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