Aerosmith’s classic hit “Dream On” comes to mind every time I look at the picture of perfection seen here. Hand-built by the same division of Jaguar Land Rover that brought us the brilliant Range Rover Sport SVR, these ultra-exclusive sports cars are a standing ovation to one of the rarest pieces of performance automotive engineering to ever emerge: The 1957 Jaguar XKSS.
Only nine cars are slated to be reconstructed to spec, which means everything from the asymmetrical cylinder heads and over-sized valves to the bulging, low-slung side port exhaust will be crafted the old fashioned way. Originally made to be the road-going version of the Le Mans-winning D-type, Jaguar has done something that we wish more automakers would do: Take an iconic classic and put it back into production to honor the supercar’s 60th anniversary.
Considered by many of the world’s top auto experts as the “first supercar,” this topless beauty will be meticulously built to meet an exact set of criteria in order to be identical to the machines from 1957. Originally designated for sale to 25 lucky members of America’s elite, only 16 of these cars ever reached completion, as the disastrous Browns Lane factory fire permanently derailed the remaining nine supercars. Or at least, so we thought.
Jaguar wants to finish what it started, and plans to offer today’s social elite a chance to own a genuine serving of the coveted XKSS sports car. By gleaning as much knowledge as possible from the construction of the Lightweight E-Type project, the British automaker plans to transfer all it knows into the construction of these nine continuations in order to make them as period correct as possible.
Utilizing its all-new “Experimental Shop” in Warwick as home base, Jaguar’s Special Operations team certainly has its work cut out, as this project is the equivalent of being forced to go from using smart phones to telegraphs in order to communicate.
The story of the XKSS first began following Jaguar’s three successive Le Mans victories in 1955, 1956, and 1957 with the unstoppable D-type. After bloodying the competition thoroughly, Sir Williams Lyons made the decision to convert the remaining 25 D-Types into road legal versions in order to appeal to wealthy American movie stars, when at the time, European sports cars were all the rage.
Primary modifications were rudimentary at best, with the addition of a passenger door, the removal of the massive fin directly behind the driver, and the deletion of the divider between passenger and driver seats being the top three tweaks. From there, a full-sized, wrap-around windshield was added as well as door glass, a folding fabric roof, chrome bumpers front and rear, XK140 rear lamps mounted up top, and thin chrome strips along the edges of the front light fairings.
Resurrecting a car like this is by no means an easy feat. Every aspect of this vehicle will be fully certified by Jaguar, from the classically styled seats and stripped down interior to the championing 3.8-liter XK engine and with a price that is supposedly set to be in excess of $1.4 million dollars, they had better damn well be; initial deliveries of the resurrected Jaguar XKSS are set to commence in early 2017, and we are are already taking bets as to how many will end up in Abu Dhabi, and which ones will actually be sold in America as originally intended.