THE 'NEW ORIGINAL': JAGUAR XKSS MAKES WORLD DEBUT IN LOS ANGELES
◾Jaguar Classic reveals 'new original' XKSS to media at Petersen Museum in Los Angeles
◾One-off car has been authentically produced to exact 1957 specification by Jaguar Land Rover Classic's expert craftsmen
◾Nine examples to be hand-built in the ÚK wîth deliveries to customers beginning in 2017(Los Angeles – 16 November 2016)
The first genuine Jaguar XKSS to be built in almost 60 years was today given its world debut presentation at the Petersen Museum, Los Angeles by Jaguar Classic. The stunning XKSS, finished in Sherwood Green paint, has been created by the Jaguar Classic engineering team ahead of the production of nine cars for delivery to customers across the globe in 2017.
Often referred to as the world's first supercar, the XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954-1956.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.
Earlier this year Jaguar announced that its Classic division would build the nine 'lost' XKSS sports cars for a select group of established collectors and customers. The new one-off XKSS presented in Los Angeles is the summation of 18 months of research and will be used as a blueprint from which the nine continuation cars are built.
The nine cars will be completely new, wîth period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log. All cars are now sold at a price in excess of £1million each.
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The XKSS is the second continuation car to be created by Jaguar, following on from the six 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.
The XKSS unveiled in Los Angeles is a 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.
The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy, as it was in 1957, and because the original styling bucks do not exist, Jaguar Classic produced a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodies from the 1950s. The bodies of the nine new cars will be formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.
Jaguar Classic's expert engineers worked wîth the original frames and from there produced CAD to support build of the chassis. In partnership wîth 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 wîth a Plessey pump, and Dunlop tyres wîth riveted two-piece magnesium alloy wheels.
Únder the bonnet, the XKSS is supplied wîth a 262hp 3.4-litre straight six-cylinder Jaguar D-type engine. The engine features completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors.
Inside, the 'new original' XKSS features perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges. Everything from the wood of the §teering 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.
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.
Customer vehicles will be hand-built beginning this year, and it is estimated that 10,000 man hours will go into building each of the new XKSS cars.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.'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, wîth a new £7.5m global headquarters set to open in Coventry in 2017. We are lòòking forward to growing this business, supporting our existing customers and engaging wîth a whole new generation of global enthusiasts.'Source - Jaguar
The Jaguar D-Type sports cars were produced from 1954 through 1957. These factory-built race cars were similar to the C-Type, but given more powerful engines, improved chassis, and aerodynamic bodies.
Walter Hassan was tasked with designing a sportscar for Jaguar. The result was the XK-120 which showed promise on the racing circuit. Although the alloy bodied cars were fast, it would not be a serious contender at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Further development was needed. In 1951 the XK 120 C, also known as the C-Type, was prepared and ready for testing at Le Mans. The straight-six cylinder engine had been modified to production 210 horsepower and various other mechanical enhancements greatly improve the performance. Three C-Types were entered in the Le Mans race with two failing to finish. The third C-Type finished strong, winning the event while averaging 93.49 miles-per-hour.
Three experimental C-Types were entered in LeMans in 1952. A long tail had been applied to the C-Type in an effort to improve aerodynamics and stability during the long, straight stretches. Unfortunately, all three failed to finish due to overheating problems. For 1953, the use of experimental bodies was scrapped in favor of the tradition bodies. The factory cars were fitted with disc brakes. In the end, this combination proved to be all that was necessary to score top finishes.
To stay ahead of the competition, Jaguar began working on a Le Mans replacement for the C-Type, resulting in six D-Types in 1954.
The D-Type was constructed of a monocoque-type chassis welded to a subframe. Later versions of the car were bolted, rather than welded, to allow easy detachment.
The same XK engine was used, albeit with minor modifications such as the use of dry-sump lubrication. The frontal area to house the engine was decreased. This was to provide for higher top speeds as Le Mans. A large fin was place behind the driver to provide stability at speeds in excess of 150 mph. Due to the new design, additional modifications to the shape and size of the engine were required to fit it into the engine bay. It was tilted 8-degrees, resulting in an off-center bump in the hood. The 1955 D-Types used asymmetrical heads, known as '35/40' heads, with intake valves positioned at 35-degress and exhaust valves at 40-degrees.
Four D-Types were entered into the 1954 Le Mans race and were not enough to beat the powerful Ferraris. 1955 modifications propelled the Jaguar marque to its third LeMans victory. A Mercedes-Benz SLR was leading the Jaguar by two laps when it was withdrawn from the race.
Though 1955 meant another victory at LeMans for Jaguar, it was a devastating year for the sport. The Mercedes-Benz SLR's were poised to capture the victory when a tragic accident occurred, involving an SLR, and killing the driver and 80 spectators. Mercedes-Benz withdrew from the race and from motorsports.
Most of the D-Types were single seaters and built for the race track. During the final year of production, Jaguar offered the Jaguar XKSS, a street version of the race car.
Twenty-five of the 68 Jaguar D-Type race cars were left unsold when Jaguar decided to cease its participation in the International Sports Car Racing program. Jaguar decided to convert the 25 remaining vehicles into road-worthy sports cars.
Bumpers were added and the single-seater was left topless with a canvas hood available to protect the driver from the elements. A windscreen was designed and a second door was added to accommodate passengers. With a Dual-Overhead Cam straight-six cylinder engine with 3442 cc capacity, the vehicle could race from zero to sixty in 7.3 seconds. The 250 horsepower output was capable of propelling the car to a top speed of nearly 150 miles-per-hour. Excellent stopping power was provided by the 4-wheel disc brakes.
In 1957, the XKSS was introduced at the New York Auto Show.
Sixteen private buyers purchased the XK-SS with the majority going to the United States. Two went to Canada, one to Hong Kong, one in the UK, and the rest to America. Later, a fire destroyed the machinery, assembly line, and most of the XKSS models. Steve McQueen, a film star and motor racing fan purchased one. McQueen is famous for his documentary of the 24 Hours of LeMans.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008