By John F Quilter 13 Nov 2013
Oxford Diecast continue to expand their range of 1:43 scale offerings and their Jaguar XK150 in roadster and fixed head versions are welcome additions and great companions to their existing big saloons, the Mark VII, VIII and IX from the same era. Jaguar really got its postwar sports carts off to a big start with the 1948 launch of the highly acclaimed XK120, which was quickly put together as the company was recovering from the Second World War. Its fully in-house styled body and its very advanced dual overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine were exceptionally advanced for the time. The engine was so well conceived that it lasted for the next 40 years in a wide range of the company products from sports cars to limousines to armoured fighting vehicles. The XK120 set the stage for Jaguar’s sports cars for the next 12 years, and put Jaguar on the map as a serious British car maker and exporter. The 120 range was ultimately expanded to three models, the original roadster, a fixed head coupe and a drophead coupe. All subsequent updates for the XK series continued with these three versions. The XK120 was supplanted in late 1954 by the XK140, with a more powerful version of the 3.4 litre XK engine, rack and pinion steering, and larger bumpers to meet the needs of the growing US market. Ultimately, in early 1958 the final iteration of the XK was launched as the XK150, again in three versions. Production lasted until 1960. Now all versions had wind-up windows, a wrap-around single-piece windscreen and a taller wing line at mid-body. The last years of the XK150 included the enlarged 3.8 litre engine, some with triple SU carburettor engines, foreshadowing that which would be standard in the upcoming E-Type.
This review relates to two Oxford Diecast XK150s, the fixed head coupe and the roadster. Both are exceptionally well made, with photo-etched wire wheels, a finely barred chrome grille, and outstanding paint quality. There is a British Racing Green roadster with a tan interior and a signal red fixed head coupe with a red interior, both with chrome wheels. As a stickler for scale, I note that these models measure 4.12 inches long. The real cars were 177 inches long, thus accurate they are 1:43 scale. Exterior chrome trim includes boot moulding, handle and licence plate plinth incorporating the reverse lamp, with the later larger tail lamps. Under the double-contour bumper are two chrome tail pipes, by then a common Jaguar feature. Moving to the front of the car we find the Lucas 576 fog lamps just above the bumper and the beautifully replicated grille with central badge, leading to the very thin central bonnet moulding stretching back to the windscreen and its two wiper arms. The interior, best viewed on the roadster, shows a fascia-mounted interior rear view mirror, and a decal for the two large main instruments (rev counter and speedometer) and the auxiliary smaller gauges. Both of these replicas are right hand drive with the steering wheel in flat brown on the roadster, black on the coupe. Factory four-spoke steering wheels were black, but perhaps the roadster used for prototyping this model had an aftermarket accessory wooden wheel, popular in the day. There are chrome handbrake and gear lever with black grips and knob. I particularly like the way Oxford replicated the flat dull sheen on the interior leather upholstery, door linings and carpet. Taking a look at the baseplate detail we note a chassis with outriggers for the body mounting, a pair of A-arms for the front suspension, and leaf springs for the rear. A long engine sump, gearbox and twin exhausts with long silencers are included as well.
Oxford phase in other colour combinations on its offerings. Currently on offer as well as the two models described here are a white roadster with black painted wheels and a black coupe with a red interior and chrome wire wheels. My preference is for the chrome wheels, as they are so well done and add greatly to the overall appearance of the replica. No review would be complete without a few criticisms. Here they are hard to find, but I note that the very short spear extending back from the headlamp rim has been omitted. Other than that, these two jewel-like replicas are hard to fault, and are great value for money. They easily achieve the overall quality, accurate scale, paint perfection, and adherence to detail of limited production handbuilt models from only a few years ago. One particular XK150 FHC has special memories for me, see the story below.
The story of a real Jaguar XK150
Back when I was a college student, a high school friend decided he needed to upgrade from a series of Morris Minors to something more sporty and flamboyant to suit his lifestyle on the San Francisco peninsula, a mecca of imported cars. As a budding motorhead he managed to locate a XK150 fixed head coupe in a local wrecking yard. The subject car was fully intact with a quite satisfactory white exterior and black interior, but after ten years of use it had a very sick engine and back in those days that could amazingly condemn a car to being dumped in a scrapyard. My friend bought the car for $500 and managed to gently drive it home, with a very serious engine knock and low oil pressure. His plan was to deliver it to a local British car workshop and give them carte blanche to go through it. The engine was pulled and disassembled, only to find the crankshaft came out in two pieces, hence the source of the low oil pressure and knock. A replacement crank, complete engine rebuild, overhaul of the brakes, a set of shiny scrapyard sourced E-Type chrome wire wheels, new tyres, and various other tasks at undisclosed expense resulted in a very satisfactory ten-year-old Jaguar indeed. He then decided that this car needed a nice road trip. So the two of us planned to drive it from the San Francisco Bay area to Victoria, British Columbia as a late summer excursion, a some two thousand mile round trip. Somewhere in this car’s history the twin exhaust system was modified to produce a bit more sporting note, which was controllable if one used the throttle gently. To get to Victoria on Vancouver Island it is necessary to cross on a car ferry which landed in the centre of quaint Victoria, near the very posh Empress Hotel. Upon disembarking from the ferry my friend, who had his sometimes wilder side, decided that Government Street in downtown Victoria was the place to announce the arrival in Canada of his newly refurbished Jaguar. A raucous blast from the exhaust of the shiny white Jaguar up the sedate street resulted in us being promptly stopped by one of Victoria’s finest. When my friend was admonished for the noise transgression, his polite response was that he had just bought the car from a scrapyard and, yes, the exhaust was a bit noisy. The incredulous police officer, noting the California license plates and shiny white Jaguar, made a comment I’ll always remember, ‘Well, you Americans really do throw away nice stuff. Please keep it down for the rest of your visit’. So I have a soft spot for the XK150, real or small scale.
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