Sunday, January 19, 2014

1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster

In 1957, after Jaguar withdrew from racing, the company offered the 25 remaining, unfinished D-Type race car chassis as the road-going Jaguar XKSS.

Only minor changes were made to the basic D-type structure: the addition of a passenger side door, the removal of the large fin behind the driver's seat, and the removal of the divider between passenger and driver seats. In addition, changes were made for cosmetic, comfort and legal reasons: a full-width, chrome-surrounded windscreen was added; side-screens were added to both driver and passenger doors; a rudimentary, folding, fabric roof was added for weather protection; chromed bumpers were added front and rear (a styling cue later used on the E-type); XK140 rear light clusters mounted higher on the wings; and thin chrome strips added to the edge of the front light fairings.

With a Dual-Overhead Cam XK straight-six cylinder engine with 3442cc capacity, the vehicle could race from zero to sixty in 7.3 seconds. The 250 hp output was capable of propelling the car to a top speed of nearly 150 mph. Excellent stopping power was provided by the 4-wheel disc brakes.

On the evening of 12 February 1957, a fire broke out at the Browns Lane plant destroying 9 of the 25 cars that had already been completed or were semi-completed. Only 16 finished XKSSs survived. (wikipedia,,  &

November 2016 UpdateJaguar has announced detailed plans to build a limited run of "new original" XKSS sports cars, at the 2016 Los Angeles auto show. Just nine examples of the XKSS continuation model will be produced, each hand-built by Jaguar to the exact specification of the original 1957 cars.

As with Jaguar's previous continuation cars - a run of six lightweight E-types produced in 2014 - the company is keen to stress that the vehicles are not replicas, but genuine models simply built a great deal later than the original cars.

With the XKSS there's added incentive to produce the cars to such exacting specification, as the nine "new original" cars are to be built to replace nine cars lost in a fire at Brown's Lane back in 1957. The continuation cars will feature original, period chassis numbers from the XKSS production run, and every other component will be as-per the original vehicles too. The bodywork for instance is formed from magnesium alloy, built over a styling buck which itself is based on that used for the first 16 XKSS built in the 1950s.

Modern technology has been used to get a perfectly accurate shape - the Jaguar team digitally scanned the bodies, chassis and components of several 1957 cars. But the build process will be entirely traditional, from hand-wheeling the panels to bronze welding the chassis tubes. (

2017 XKSS Continuation Model

(Photos from

Steve McQueen's Jaguar XKSS (chassis #713)

The American actor Steve McQueen owned a Jaguar XKSS for personal use, painted British racing green. He referred to the car as the "Green Rat". He used it both on the road and on the track before selling to William Harrah at the end of the 1960s. He missed the stylish Jaguar so much that he bought it back a few years later and kept it until his untimely death in 1984. Today it's part of the Petersen Museum Collection. It is the only XKSS with polished wheels.

(Photos from, &

Jaguar D-Type Race Car (1954-57)

The structural design of the D-Type, revolutionary at the time, applied aeronautical technology. The "tub", or cockpit section, was of monocoque construction, mostly comprising sheets of aluminium alloy. Powered by a straight-6 XK engine design (initially 3.4 litres and uprated to 3.8 litres in the late fifties). Total D-Type production is thought to have included 18 factory team cars, 53 customer cars, and 16 XKSS versions. (wikipedia)

(Photos from

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