Jaguar XK SS

Jaguar XK SS
ID 43174120 © Robert Wisdom |

The Jaguar XK SS is one of the most iconic and rarest cars in automobile history. Manufactured by the British carmaker, Jaguar, this high-performance sports car has an intriguing story filled with innovation, tragedy, and resurgence.

The journey of the XK SS started in 1957 when Jaguar decided to convert some of their remaining D-Type race cars into road-legal sports cars after the car was withdrawn from competitions. The D-Type, known for winning the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race consecutively from 1955 to 1957, provided the perfect base for a high-performance sports car.

The transformation involved some modifications, including the removal of the large fin behind the driver’s seat, the addition of a full-width windscreen, and slight changes to the interior. The body of the XK SS was made of aluminum and it was equipped with a 3.4-litre straight-six XK engine that could deliver up to 250 horsepower. With this engine, the car could reach 60mph from rest in just 5.2 seconds, and had a top speed of 149mph – phenomenal figures for the time.

Jaguar planned to produce 100 units of the XK SS, targeting the American market. However, tragedy struck in 1957 when a major fire broke out at the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane, Coventry. The disastrous fire destroyed a major part of the factory, including nine of the partially completed XK SS cars.

After the fire, Jaguar could only complete and sell 16 units of the XK SS, adding an element of rarity to the model. One of these cars was famously owned by actor Steve McQueen, further adding to the car’s mythos.

In 2016, Jaguar announced they would build the ‘missing’ nine cars destroyed in the fire to the exact specifications of the 1957 model, selling them to a select group of established collectors and customers.

The XK SS’s influence can be seen in later Jaguar models, notably the E-Type, one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. Despite its limited production run, the Jaguar XK SS left a lasting impact on automotive history due to its stunning design, powerful performance, and the dramatic circumstances surrounding its creation. Today, the Jaguar XK SS is a prized collector’s item, celebrated for being one of the most exclusive and enigmatic cars ever produced.

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