D-Type-derived supercar will rise from the ashes
It was a tragic story. On the evening of February 12, 1957, a fire broke out in Jaguar‘s Browns Lane factory in Coventry England destroying what was left of nine vehicles in various stages of transition from dorsal-finned D-Type racing specification to smooth-backed XKSS street-legal supercars destined for well-heeled American buyers like Steve McQueen. It was a scheme to recoup some of the investment made in building the D-Type chassis for competition after Jaguar withdrew from competition following the 1956 season. After the fire, four cars were dismantled for parts and the rest were largely scrapped. Even the VIN plates.
Fast forward almost 60 years and Jaguar Land Rover‘s newly renamed Classic operation (Formerly “Heritage”) has hatched a scheme to build nine XKSS cars to replace these treasures that were so cruelly snatched away from the car-loving world. Like the six E-Type Lightweight cars Jaguar recreated a few years ago, these will be made from scratch, faithfully replicating the riveted aluminum tub and subframes design using a mix of old-world craftsmanship and high-tech means of fabrication.
Many original body and chassis drawings survive, but few are complete enough to make tooling from. The body drawings were used as guides from which the wooden bucks used as checking fixtures were built. So several very nice examples of XKSS cars have been digitally scanned, and while no two cars built in those days were identical, an “average, ideal” body surface has been agreed upon from these scans.
Modern 3D printing and/or CNC milling will likely be used to create the checking fixtures used to perfect the body panels, but the panels themselves will be fashioned the olde worlde way, using an English wheel. Their engines will be brand new as well, built from scratch at JLR’s Whitley prototype engine center. The end result will be nine XKSS cars that are meticulously original, assembled with vastly better quality, which are far more identical than the original 16 were.
But without so much as a fire-oxidized VIN plate, nor even an “unused reserved VIN” like those affixed to the light E’s, these cars will not be legal to license for street use. No matter, at a price of 1,000,000 each ($1,420,850 USD), nobody was very likely to go out dicing through traffic in their new XKSS in any case. But if this sounds like something you need, act fast. Five have already been reserved — two bound for the U.K., two for the U.S., and one for New Zealand. The million-pound XKSS price will be too steep for most of us, but Jag and Land Rover enthusiasts on smaller budgets should know that JLR Classic is prepared to assist them with parts, service, information, and even full restorations, performed in their facility in a portion of the old Browns Lane factory facility. You’ll pay a bit more, but factory provenance is worth more.