Jaguar’s withdrawal from factory-backed motorsports in 1956 meant it had a few D-Types left idle, and a load of surplus parts. A plan was thus hatched to convert those D-Types into road-cars by fitting windscreens, doors, hoods and luggage racks, but leaving the mechanicals largely alone. A run of 25 cars was the aim, but nine (destined for the US) were destroyed in a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory, meaning just 16 were sold in all.
Earlier this year Jaguar announced plans to build those nine lost XKSSs, and this is one of them. And since those were the export version bound for America, it’s only fitting that the first completed continuation car (finished in Sherwood Green) was revealed at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, home to Steve McQueen’s XKSS.
The result of 18 months of research (that included the studying of original drawings, and the scanning of several originals to produce a complete digital picture), this one-off “Sherwood Green” car is effectively a “blueprint from which the nine continuation cars will be built”.
All nine will be new cars, but use period chassis numbers – presumably from the cars lost in the fire. The bodies will be hand-wheeled from magnesium alloy, and the cars will feature period Dunlop disc brakes, Dunlop tires and two-piece riveted magnesium alloy wheels.
The engine will be the 3.4-litre D-Type straight-six, which is good for 262bhp. Jaguar has added new cast iron blocks, new cylinder-heads and Weber DC03 carbs.
Inside there are “perfect recreations” of the original XKSS’s Smith’s gauges – and Jaguar says “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”. The only specification changes to the XKSS have been made to “improve driver and passenger safety”.
It is estimated 10,000 man-hours and 2000 rivets will go into the build of each car, making the $1.25million asking price seem slightly less outrageous. However before you get out that cheque book all the prospective cars have been sold already.