When Jaguar went back to the past: the new XKSS

In News_line-up by


The first genuine Jaguar XKSS to be built in almost six decades years was given its world debut presentation in Los Angeles by Jaguar Classic. The stunning XKSS, finished in Sherwood Green paint, was created by the Jaguar Classic engineering team ahead of the production of nine cars for delivery to customers across the globe.

Often referred to as the world’s first supercar, the XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954 to 1956. In 1957, nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in the British Midlands; meaning just 16 examples of XKSS were built.

Exciting stuff, I know, right? The thing is, all nine Jaguar XKSS continuation vehicles are spoken for, even though customers had to pony up in excess of $1.5million. That’s right! One. Point. Five. Million. Bucks.

Jaguar managed to track the original drawings, but the problem is that “drawings don’t tell you how the shape was created”. Tim Hannig, the director of JLR Classic, says that the company “borrowed two original cars from owners and scanned the lines digitally. The bodies we are creating are quite remarkable”.

The ‘new original’ Jaguars are claimed to be nigh-on perfect recreations, featuring period Dunlop disck brakes, Dunlop tyres, two-piece magnesium wheels, a 262bhp 3.4-litre D-type engine and Weber DC03 carburettors. In excess of 10.000 man hours is reputed to go into each car, helping justify the substantial price tag.

What the XKSS was all about?

One of the hairiest road cars ever created, the XKSS was a mildly civilised version of the D-type racing car, built to celebrate Jaguar’s hat-trick of Le Mans wins from 1955 to 1957.

Among other changes, a higher windscreen replaced the D-type’s aero shield, an extra door was added so passengers could actually get in and out, and the race car’s famed tailfin was swapped for a chromed luggage rack – ideal for picnics. Actor Steve McQueen owned one, and regularly charged around Los Angeles in it between pictures. Today that particular car’s estimated to be worth more than £20m.