Jaguar surprised us all when they revealed the XKSS, a car they haven’t made since the last one series production unit rolled off the line in 1957, at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The British manufacturer will be resurrecting the classic as a new car, constructed to its full and true period glory and delivered to some lucky owners in 2017.
The car they showcased in California, finished in Sherwood Green paint, was the only example so far constructed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Classic division. But don’t hold your breath for many more as only 8 more are planned for existence, each costing north of £1 million.
The total number of 9 recreation cars isn’t an arbitrary digit. It refers to the 1957 model year cars that were involved and lost in a fire that engulfed Jaguar’s Brown Lane factory in the British Midlands, leaving just 16 examples of the XKSS of that period are left, which were essentially street legal versions of Jaguar’s iconic Le Mans winning D-Type racing car, and were consequently one of the fastest road cars of the time.
Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineering Manager, said: “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.
“From the number, type and position of all the rivets used – there are more than 2,000 in total – to the Smiths gauges on the dashboard, everything is the same as the original cars, because that is the way it should be.”
It’s such a treat to see a manufacturer pay homage to their past cars in this way, almost as a reflex action in response to years of constructing modern cars made of ultra-modern materials and machines capable of nanometer precise construction. The XKSS here, like the ones that will follow, will be as faithful to the original as possible.
In fact, the team responsible for hand building the car spent months upon months researching how to build the car exactly as it would be back in the 50s. Granted, there will be some added modernities particularly towards making the car safe enough to meet modern standards (for the most part) as well as an engine that can combust on the more refined blend of petrol we have at the pumps of today.
Under that sculpted bonnet sits a dry-sump 3.4-litre straight six Jaguar D-Type engine that produces 195kW, featuring new cast iron blocks, cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburettors. Inside, special care was paid to perfect recreate the original Smith-produced gauges and switchgear.
As the video captures quite well, the motor sounds so sweetly analogue, and the interfaces coupled with the lonely mountain road harkens back to an age where driving was held as a pleasure in itself, understood by all.
Everything from the wood of the steering wheel, to the grain of the leather seats, through to the brass knobs on the XKSS dashboard, is precisely as it would have been in 1957.