Restoring an old car is a tiresome affair. You fight with parts, you lose that one key nut or bolt and then when it’s all bolted together, you find it doesn’t start. Really agitating, that. So what can you do? Well, you could just get someone else to build it for you and then shout at them if it breaks. Or, if you’re really deep-pocketed, you could buy one from Jaguar. Proving of course that you want a Jaguar. If you’re restoring a Morris Marina, we can’t help you. If you want a Jaguar XKSS, however, you’re in luck.
The division of Jaguar responsible for looking after the older metal has just turned out nine ‘1957’ Jaguar XKSS models. They’re not fettled old cars though. Oh no, they’re all brand new. But built to 1957 specification. As automotive art goes, there’s not a lot better than this out there. It is motoring perfection. A real time warp car that you just won’t see anywhere else. Though with only nine being built, you probably won’t see one of the new versions. But hey, you can look at pictures. And pictures are nice, right?
Jaguar XKSS – An interesting history
The Jaguar XKSS is often referred to as being the first supercar. And rightly so. It was born out of the success of the D Type race car that dominated at Le mans from 1954 to 1956. In 1957, Jaguar made the bold move to produce the XKSS. It would be a road-going version of the race car, but in reality, it was just a race car with some extra leather and a number plate. Needless to say, the XKSS wasn’t built in huge numbers. However, a fire at the Jaguar plant in 1957 saw nine XKSSs reduced to puddles of molten metal. In total, only 16 XKSSs were built, not 25. So think of these new cars as an act of Jaguar making up the numbers. It might be a little late, but as the stout says, good things come to those who wait.
Jaguar XKSS – Built to perfection
So what of these new cars? Are they just cheaply made reproductions created to turn over a few quid quickly? Not at all. They’re works of art built to the highest possible standard by the most talented hands in the industry. For example, the buck for the body is long gone. So Jaguar made a new one. From that, they went on to ‘hand’wheel’ the magnesium alloy body, just as they would have done in 1957.
Unlike 1957, the team now has CAD at its disposal. but rather than use this as a means to modernise the design, they have instead used it to perfect the original. Surviving cars from 1957 were meticulously scanned and digitally mapped, giving the craftsmen original data to work from. Add in the modern tools and facilities at their disposal, and you have a car built to the highest possible standard. But, once again, not modernised in any way. These cars are considered by Jaguar to be a ‘continuation’, not a copy.
Jaguar XKSS – An icon reborn
Needless to say, the folks at jaguar a pretty excited about this. And rightly so, it’s bloody lovely. 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.”
Adding to that, Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, said: “The XKSS continuation programme underlines the world-class expertise we have at Jaguar Land Rover Classic. We are committed to nurturing the passion and enthusiasm for Jaguar’s illustrious past by offering exceptional cars, services, parts and experiences. Jaguar Land Rover Classic is perfectly positioned to cater for this growing love for classics, with a new £7.5m global headquarters set to open in Coventry in 2017. We are looking forward to growing this business, supporting our existing customers and engaging with a whole new generation of global enthusiasts.”
Jaguar XKSS – Getting behind the wheel
The Jaguar XKSS will be powered by a 262hp 2.4litre straight six engine, as per the original. It’s have all the 1957 bells and whistles, too. So Weber DC03 carbs (three of), new cast iron block, new cast cylinder head, it’s all there and it’s all original. Same goes for the brakes, too. Brand new Dunlop disc brakes all round will feature, so don’t think you can pop down to Halfords for some new pads. Basically, it’s a 1957 car with a 2017 registration. Though some thing have been tweaked, like the fuel cell for example. The new one is a bit more robust and better at coping with modern fuels. It’s also less likely to burst into flames. Which is handy.
So, can you have one? Err, no. Even if you had the £1,000,000 plus it’d do you no good, as they already sold. Instead, you’ll just have to enjoy the pictures and sleep safely in the knowledge that such a car exists. But because we’re nice, here’s the website so you can drool some more. We’ll see you there.