Nine buyers have ponied up $1.5 million each for the right to buy a new 1957 Jaguar XKSS sports car.
How is this possible?
Let's take a trip down history lane--or Browns Lane, as it turns out. In the mid-1950s, Jaguar was planning a road-going version of its D-Type racing car, but it subsequently pulled out of motorsports in 1956.
A number of incomplete D-Type chassis were sitting at the company's Browns Lane assembly plant, a facility that had been initially opened by Daimler ahead of World War II to help the British government arm itself for the impending resumption of hostilities with Germany.
Jaguar planned to build 25 examples of what it called the XKSS, a lightly modified racing car designed for American buyers. However, a fire broke out at Browns Lane and destroyed nine of the cars in various stages of completion. The remaining 16 were sold, mostly in the United States, and Jaguar moved on from the project, seemingly content to have found a use for its formerly unused racing cars.
They may have been unwanted by Jaguar, but they've become icons in the six decades since—thanks in part to Steve McQueen, who bought a used one in 1958. McQueen's XKSS sits at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles and has been valued at up to $30 million.
1957 Jaguar XKSSEnlarge Photo
Jaguar Land Rover Classic, meanwhile, made waves back in March at the New York International Auto Show when it announced plans to finish the series with nine more cars priced at $1.5 million each—a bargain compared to the originals.
Tim Hannig, JLR Classic's director, says that it has been a challenge since none of the hand-assembled 16 originals were truly identical.
JLR Classic has had to fabricate just about every part, but they did come across an unused D-Type engine block still in its original greased paper wrapping.
"We did manage to track down all the original drawings, which have helped us immensely, but drawings don’t tell you how the shape was created," Hennig said. "So we borrowed two original cars from owners and scanned the lines digitally.
"The bodies we are creating are quite remarkable; I’m really impressed at what the team has achieved."
Each of the nine continuation cars will take Jaguar about three months to build, and Jaguar says that the first will be delivered next February or March. But don't look to head down to your local Jaguar dealer to place an order for one. They were all spoken for, not long after they were announced.