The Jaguar XK SS model is one of the most illustrious and unique cars in automobile history, with origins steeped in both sport and tragedy. This model essentially signified the transformation of a successful track car, famously known as the D-Type, into a road-going sports car. The exclusivity and rarity of the XK SS model is underlined by the notably limited production numbers. This brings us to the question: how many Jaguar XK SS models were originally manufactured?
To understand this, we must first transport ourselves back in time to the 1950s. The Jaguar XK SS model was born out of an unfortunate circumstance. In the midst of Jaguar’s racing success, a disastrous event took place in February 1957. A fire unexpectedly broke out at the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane, destroying a considerable part of the production line. This included numerous Jaguar D-Type models which were intently built for high-speed races.
The catastrophic fire limited Jaguar’s ability to continue the successful production run of the D-Type model, forcing the establishment to switch gears. Left with a number of D-Type chassis’, which remarkably escaped the fire, Jaguar made a bold decision to repurpose these into road-legal sports machines. The result of this innovative move was the creation of the Jaguar XK SS model.
The manufacture of the Jaguar XK SS model turned out to be a short run, given the limited availability of D-Type chassis’. Jaguar originally intended to produce 100 units of these luxurious machines. However, the aftermath of the aforementioned Browns Lane fire negatively affected these plans, significantly reducing the actual production number.
In total, only 16 models of the Jaguar XK SS were ever manufactured between 1956 and 1957, creating a rarity that makes these vehicles incredibly valuable today. Each of the 16 models produced was essentially a D-Type model with minimal modifications like the addition of a passenger door, removal of the large fin behind the driver, a full-width windshield, and minor changes to make it street-legal.
These unforeseen circumstances led to the Jaguar XK SS becoming an automotive legend, embodying the transition of performance and engineering from the racetrack to the road. The low production numbers have amplified the prestige and desirability of the XK SS, helping it to maintain its status as a collector’s item.
After six decades, in 2016, Jaguar announced it would build the nine ‘lost’ XK SS models, signifying the models that never got produced due to the 1957 Browns Lane fire. The continuation models were hand-built at the Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works facility in Warwickshire, UK. Jaguar’s intention was not to increase the original count, but to complete the initial manufacturing target of the XK SS model.
Ultimately, for car lovers and Jaguar enthusiasts alike, the mere 16 original Jaguar XK SS models are more than just vehicles; they represent a rich history of innovation, adaptability, and resilience in the face of adversity.