Jaguar XKSS to Rise From the Ashes

Vojta Dobe
by Vojta Dobe

When fire destroyed Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant on Feb. 12, 1957, nine of the 25 existing XKSS models were consumed by flames. The spartan roadster — a road going version of the famous D-type race car — went on to become a legend and the remaining 16 examples are among the most valuable collector cars on the market.

Now, the lost nine are going to rise from the ashes, as Jaguar plans to use their serial numbers on a limited run of exact replicas, mirroring last year’s E-type Lightweight.

For most of us, the XKSS is connected with the image of Steve McQueen tearing up the back roads around Los Angles, as immortalized in famous series of black-and-white photographs. But even without the celebrity connection, the XKSS was a very special and important car, even though it was born of a business failure. When Jaguar’s works team withdrew from competition at the end of 1956 season, the company still had some D-type racing cars in stock.

The interest among privateer teams wasn’t sufficient to unload them all, and so a clever plan was devised. Remaining D-types will be fitted with some luxury items – like second seat and door, windows, windscreen with wipers or even a folding roof and bumpers – and sold as roadgoing sports cars, perfect for “weekend racers” in America.

The new car, called the XKSS, was eligible for the production sport car class, and represented a perfect choice for wealthy Americans who wanted to drive their own cars to the track, race them, and then drive them back home again.

The fascinating story and great racing pedigree of the XKSS guaranteed it a place in the Pantheon of automotive legends. And with the recent surge in price and popularity of classic sports cars, the value of the legendary racing Jag for the street shot upwards as well. According to data from Hagerty Insurance, you could buy a concours condition XKSS for a measly $2 million in 2006. Now, the same car would cost you a whopping fifteen million dollars.

Such demand, which may or may not be result of an investment bubble, makes for a perfect time to recreate the nine cars that were lost. And Jaguar, encouraged with the success of last year’s series of E-type Lightweight continuation cars, decided to do just that. All nine cars will be “constructed to the exact specifications as those 16 first made in 1957,” states the company’s website, and will be offered to select customers at a reasonable (compared with what the original would fetch) price of “over Ł1 million” (more than $1.5 million).

It is expected that even these “continuation cars” will make for a sound investment, even though, if the prices of DB4 GT Zagato Sanction II cars (finished from the existing parts in 1988, a quarter century after the originals were built) are anything to go by, their prices will never reach the astonishing heights of the original 16 cars.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

Vojta Dobe
Vojta Dobe

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  • Jagboi Jagboi on Mar 25, 2016

    I doubt any of them would come to the US. They are not "new" cars anyway, they were originally built in 1956. Granted, recreated now but the title would date from 1957.

  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Mar 26, 2016

    England has heaps of niche cars that dont come to the US. There's heaps of cottage industries that make half a million pound sterling works of art and they will sell out before they are even put out a press release. There's more than nine rich English billionairies who would want a million dollar bauble to put in their living room of their 50 bedroom mansion.

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  • Groza George Our roads and bridges are crumbling and increasing vehicle weight will only make bridges crumble faster. We need more infrastructure work.
  • Wolfwagen Pennsylvania - Two long straights, 1 medium straight, 1 super short straight and a bunch of curves all on one end
  • Haze3 EV median weight is in the range of 4500-5500lbs, similar to the low end of full size pickup trucks and SUV's or typical mid-size PU's and SUV's. Obviously, EV Hummers and PU's are heavier but, on average, EV=PU or mid/full SUV is about right. EV's currently account for ~1% of the cars on the road. PU's account for 17% and SUV's count for over 40%. If we take out light SUV's, then call it 30% SUV or so. So, large-ish PU's and SUV's, together, account for ~50% of the US fleet vs 1% for EV's. As such, the fleet is ALREADY heavy. The problem is that EV's will be making the currently lighter 50% heavier, not that PU/SUV haven't already done most of the damage on avg mass.Sure, the issue is real but EV responsibility is not. If you want to get after heavies, that means getting after PU/SUV's (the current problem by 40-50x) first and foremost.