The very nature of Cherokee 140s wouldn’t seem to lend itself to speed. After all, the airplane made its reputation based on a docile stall and some of general aviation’s most benign flying qualities. The littlest Cherokees have always been regarded as among the gentlest of trainers, so universally respected for their predictable manners that some instructors actually criticize them for being too easy to fly.
Keep in mind, any performance increase in a Cherokee 140 would be an improvement. Cherokees were their marquee’s entry-level 2+2 machines, and none were designed as high-performance airplanes. In fact, Piper hoped the original Cherokee 140 would compete as much with the Cessna 150 as the 172. The company even considered a Cherokee 115, a version with a 115-hp Lycoming O-235A engine to make the airplane more price-competitive with the 150. Performance didn’t meet its expectations, however, that Piper abandoned the idea.