BY JAMES CAMPBELL
The Jaguar XKSS was a road-going version of the Jaguar D-Type racing car.
When Jaguar withdrew from competition at the end of the 1956 season, a number of completed and partly completed D-types remained unsold at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory.
12 of 16 Jaguar XKSS sports cars ever built reunited at Pebble Beach
To recoup some of the investment made in building these unused chassis, and to exploit the lucrative American market for high-performance European sports cars, supremo Sir William Lyons – known as “Mr Jaguar” – decided to convert a number to road-going specification.
However, on the evening of the 12th of February 1957, a fire broke out at the Browns Lane plant destroying nine of the twenty-five cars that had already been completed or were semi-completed. Most of the surviving 16 XKSSs were sold in the USA.
In March 2016, Jaguar announced that it would be completing the original 25 car order from 1957 by building from scratch the remaining 9 cars destroyed by the plant fire.
The Jaguar Classic division of Jaguar has put together a team of engineers, craftsmen and mechanics to restore classic models if the money is there in terms of orders. These nine cars, with period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log are all now sold, with each buyer paying more than £1 million.
This is not the first time Jaguar Classic has been at work: Jaguar built six brand new Lightweight E-Type Coupés in 2014, using the period chassis numbers to finish off the series they intended to complete in the sixties. Now, it’s a similar story with the XKSS.
According to Road & Track “it takes about 10,000 man hours and 2000 rivets to make an XKSS, complete with a 262 horsepower 3.4-liter straight six Jaguar D-type engine. That legendary motor features completely new cast iron blocks, cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors, while inside the cockpit, you find perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges, a wooden steering wheel, classic leather seats and brass knobs on the dashboard, precisely like in the 1957 cars.”
The only downside – apart from the price – about these XKSS beauties is that they are not road legal. They do not meet emissions or safety standards that modern cars are obliged to meet.
These cars are simply stunning.
Us mere mortals can merely salivate and dream.