The Jaguar XKSS – widely deemed to be the world’s first supercar – is something of a lost gem. After Jaguar withdrew from racing competition in 1956, it had a bunch of unsold – and incomplete in some cases – D-Type racing cars.
Rather than let them go to waste, Jaguar opted to convert them into road-legal high-performance sports cars by adding a windscreen, sidescreens, a passenger side door and a basic folding fabric roof.
Alas, a fire broke out at its Browns Lane plant before Jaguar could ship the cars and nine of the 25 models were torched. The surviving 16 XKSSs were sold to US buyers but the outstanding nine have been considered lost. Until now.
Jaguar has announced that its Classic division will address the tragic shortfall by building the nine ‘lost’ XKSS sports cars in 2017.
Under the bonnet is a 258bhp 3.4-litre straight six-cylinder Jaguar D-type engine, with completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors.
Several existing 1957 XKSS models were scanned during 18 months of research to help build a complete digital image of the car and around 10,000 man hours will go into building each of the new XKSS cars.
Inside, the ‘new original’ XKSS features perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges. Every inch of the car is exactly as it would have been in 1957, from the wood of the steering wheel, to the grain of the leather seats, through to the brass knobs on the XKSS dashboard.
The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy – again, as it would have been in 1957 – and because the original styling bucks no longer exist, a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodies from the 1950s had to be produced.
The bodies of the nine new cars will be formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.
Although completely new, the nine cars will carry period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log.
Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic’s engineering manager, spoke of the car’s significance and the painstaking efforts made to create the car.
“The XKSS is one of the most important cars in Jaguar’s history and we are committed to making the ‘new original’ version absolutely faithful to the period car in every way,” he said.
“From the number, type and position of all the rivets used to the Smiths gauges on the dashboard, everything is the same as the original cars, because that is the way it should be.”
If you fancy having one, tough. All nine have already been sold at more than £1 million a pop.
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