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XK140 Restoration Project - Part 1

A New Year and a new Classic Jaguar XK Project

‘Project 140’

Re-Building a 1955
Jaguar XK140 FHC

As you are aware by now, I sold my championship winning Jaguar XK150 FHC at the end of last year! I continue to co-drive the 150 with the new owner, Read Gomm in The Masters series.

The main reason for this move was to find a Jaguar XK140 FHC (Fixed Head Coupe), as this was the only FHC to have raced in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1956.

So, the search was on to find such a car! The car that was at the ’56 Le Mans 24 hours was a 1955 140 FHC. I was lucky enough to find such as car, just 5 miles away from my home near Brooklands in Surrey.

On first inspection the car looked very good and with some provenance in that in 2000 it raced from Peking to Paris and it completed a season of racing with the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club in 2003 winning Class ’B’ of the series.

The project plan started in March but, what would I need to do to the car to get it back to its former glory and what would I find once the car was to be strip-searched for any defects.

The project has now started and, while stripping the car, it became evident that she was in desperate need of a complete bottom-up restoration. Luckily there is no “Rot” in chassis and body parts, but having been left to the elements for some eight to nine years, the weather has taken it’s toll on this beautiful car.

The car was modified to withstand the stresses and strains of driving from Peking to Paris through Mongolia and the Gobi desert etc., so it’s now down to me to rectify these modifications and once again restore the car to its original configuration and condition.

With CKL Developments` help (Chris Keith-Lucas), we are in the process of carrying out this exhaustive project, which I am forecasting it will take most of this year to complete.

Currently, the car’s interior has been removed, which uncovered a lot of surface rust from rain seeping its way in over a long period of time.

In addition, we realised that the engine had a blown head gasket and the oil was a brown sludge mixed with water. Therefore, it was decided to remove the engine and gearbox to further inspect its overall condition at the top and bottom end, plus the gearbox.

This week I took the car over to my old friend Adam Redding, at AMR, Tech logistics in Camberley who will carry out the body repairs and paintwork. The paint stripping work will commence next week to establish what is metal and what isn’t, so that we can remedy everything with new metal where it is needed.

That’s the end of Part 1 of what will probably be at least a four part serialisation of the work and woes of such a wonderful restoration project.

I have included a few photographs of the car as I bought it and some quite sad photos of the car in partially stripped mode, for you to see the magnitude of the work that needs to be done over the coming months.

In the mean time, it’s going to be hard work and hard cash that will see me through Project 140. I hope to report on the next phase in around two months time.

Over and out for now, John Roberts

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