One of the holy grails for enthusiasts of classic sports cars has long been the Jaguar XKSS, the coolly charismatic 1957 roadster with Jayne Mansfield curves and a racing pedigree famously beloved by Steve McQueen. Based on the British carmaker’s D-Type, which won Le Mans three years in a row in the mid-’50s, the XKSS could hit 60 m.p.h. from a standstill in five seconds. Ultimately, only 16 were ever produced—a result of a devastating fire at the company’s factory—but six decades later Jaguar is bringing back the legend it calls the world’s first supercar.
Well, it’s making nine of them, anyway, with a price tag in excess of $1.5 million each. Unlike the recent, widespread moves by carmakers of rolling out retro-inspired designs, Jaguar Land Rover is experimenting with a different approach. Two years ago, the company’s special operations division built six Jaguar Lightweight E-Types, a sultry successor to the D-Type, handcrafting them, not as reengineered versions with cutting-edge performance capabilities and comforts but as unmodified replicas sticking to period specifications. The success of that project—all of the cars, priced between $1.6 million and $2.5 million, were quickly sold—encouraged Jaguar to do something similar with the XKSS, faithfully re-creating the riveted side panels, the leather hood straps, the throaty purr of the side exhaust pipes. As with the E-Types, the new XKSSs aren’t intended for road use, as they don’t meet today’s safety or emissions standards. Instead, they are targeted to top-end collectors who will bring them to shows and rallies. Although the new XKSSs won’t be ready until early next year, five of the nine have already been sold.
Buyers have a choice of colors: British racing green (preferred by McQueen), Old English white, red, black, or gray. The luggage rack and folding top are optional, as is the fuel gauge—a feature the original didn’t have. While the sticker price might seem shocking, keep in mind that McQueen’s XKSS, now owned by the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, has been valued by some at more than $30 million.
Credit: photos/text via Architectural Digest.