The renaissance of the Jaguar XKSS

The British car maker goes back in time for a limited edition masterpiece.

February 26, 2017

After 26 years in this motoring business, rarely am I left open mouthed and gaping in astonishment. Yet there I was, standing at the entrance to a small garage in England that houses Jaguar’s newly named Jaguar Land Rover Classic Division with jaw touching the floor. 

I had stepped back in time 60 years to a workshop that is building a hand-made sports car to the exact rules of Jaguar in 1957 and is about to sell them again as new cars in 2017. Jaguar has just launched the “brand new” 1957 Jaguar XKSS with all the support and backup you’d get from buying a new car. Built at Jaguar’s so-called Experimental Shop, there will only ever be nine XKSS models and all will be built to the exact same specs as the original XKSS from 1957.

Jaguar was riding a wave of success in 1956 having won the LeMans 24-Hour for the third time with the D-Type, so company boss Sir William Lyons looked for a replacement as the competition was catching up the to the 180mph D-Type. To speed things along he decided to shift the remaining 25 D-Type race cars to the assembly line and sell them as production cars.

They were modified back to road spec with a taller windscreen and a passenger’s door while the bodywork separating the two seats was removed along with the distinctive aero fin behind the driver’s head.

In 1957 a fire swept through Jaguar’s factory in Browns Lane, Coventry, England, which put a sudden stop to production with just 16 of the 25 cars completed.

Nearly all 16 were sold to the United States and arguably the most famous was bought by Steve McQueen, which is virtually priceless as average XKSS prices today hover around the $12 million mark. Cut to 2016 and Jaguar decided to go back and finish the job by building the remaining nine cars to finish the job it started 60 years earlier.

Called the Continuation Series, the 2017 XKSS is faithful to the 1957 model right down the custom made high profile tyres, period correct gauges, tail lights and wheels.

They’ve dragged out the blueprints for the original 262bhp, 3.4-litre, double overhead cam, triple carburetorred, straight six engine and four-speed manual gearbox, building it all from scratch with identical power and torque figures.

The ‘lost’ nine will be sold to what Jaguar describes as “a select group of established collectors and customers,” who I’ve been assured have already snapped up all available stock. 

jaguar-me.com

Specs

  • Engine: 3.4-litre, triple carburetor inline 6
  • Power: 262bhp @6000rpm
  • Torque: 353Nm @ 4000rpm
  • Transmission: four-speed manual
  • 0-100kmh: 5.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 235kmh
  • Price: AED 4,500,000