Flashback: Jaguar's reborn XKSS

SentiMETAL didn't exist in 2016 when the "continuation" XKSS was first announced, but with such stunning images, we can't resist publishing this story now, 3 years later...

Story supplied by Jaguar

The car you are looking at - or most likely drooling over - is a Jaguar XKSS, widely regarded as the world's first true supercar. But it's not any XKSS... it's a recreation hand-built by the Jaguar Classic Engineering team ahead of what was then scheduled production of 9 cars for delivery to some very lucky (and wealthy) customers across the globe in 2017.

The XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954-1956.  In 1957, nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in the British Midlands; meaning just 16 examples of XKSS were built.

The original styling bucks were lost, so Jaguar had to create new ones based on original bodies.

And so it came to that early in 2016 Jaguar announced that its Classic division would build the 9 ‘lost’ XKSS sports cars for a select group of established collectors and customers. The one-off XKSS you see here, finished in Sherwood green paint, was the summation of 18 months of research and was then used as a blueprint from which the 9 continuation cars were built. 

The 9 cars will be completely new, with period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log. All cars were sold at a price in excess of £1million each.

Inside, everything from the Smiths gauges, grain of the leather and type of wood is faithful to the original.

The XKSS is in fact the second continuation car to be created by Jaguar, following the 6 Lightweight E-types that were built in 2014. This project helped the team learn to engineer cars that are faithful to the specifications to which they were built in period, and this knowledge has been enhanced in creating the ‘new original’ XKSS.

This XKSS is a so-called period-correct continuation, built using a combination of original drawings from Jaguar’s archive and modern technology.  The Jaguar Classic engineering team scanned several versions of the 1957 XKSS to help build a complete digital image of the car, from the body to chassis, and including all parts required.

Creating each reborn XKSS took about 10 000 man hours each.

The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy, as it was in 1957, and because the original styling bucks no longer exist, Jaguar Classic produced a new one based on the original bodies from the 1950s. The bodies of the 9 new cars were to be formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.

Jaguar Classic’s expert engineers worked with the original frames and from there produced CAD to support build of the chassis. In partnership with the Classic team, frame maker Reynolds – famous for their 531 tubing – was briefed to craft bespoke new parts using imperial measurements, rather than metric. The frames are bronze welded in the same way as the period XKSS chassis tubing. The continuation cars feature period specification four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes with a Plessey pump, and Dunlop tyres with riveted 2-piece magnesium alloy wheels.

jaguar xkss

This particular XKSS was unveiled in 2016 and served as the blueprint for the 9 continuation cars that were to follow.

The XKSS is fitted with a 262hp (195kW) 3.4-litre straight 6-cylinder Jaguar D-type engine. The engine features completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and 3 Weber DC03 carburetors.

Inside, the ‘new original’ XKSS features perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges.  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.

jaguar xkss

Absolutely gorgeous, isn't it?

Minor specification changes have been made only to improve driver and passenger safety. The fuel cell, for example, uses robust, modern materials to support throughput of modern fuels.

It is estimated that 10 000 man hours would ultimately go into building each of the new XKSS cars.


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