Rare chance to see million-dollar jaguar

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 18 Nov 2017 | Latest News
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One of nine re-made Jaguar XKSS models will be on display at Armstrong Prestige Dunedin next weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Dunedin car enthusiasts will have the chance to view a $1.76 million Jaguar; one of just nine re-made after a factory fire stopped production 60 years ago. 

The Jaguar XKSS, which is owned by motor vehicle group entrepreneur Sir Colin Giltrap's son, Michael, is the only one in Australasia, and will be displayed at Armstrong Prestige Dunedin as part of a heritage weekend next Saturday and Sunday. 

Often referred to as the world's first supercar, the XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954-1956. 

Under the bonnet, the XKSS retained the 3.4-litre straight-six racing engine, which was capable of250hp. With the modified XKSS weighing only 45kg more than the D-type, its top speed was 234kmh. 

Some efforts were made to make the driving experience more road-friendly, with a few creature comforts in the cabin, and some tweaks to the engine and chassis. Despite this, the XKSS remained cramped, hot, noisy and - at times - incredibly challenging to drive. 

That race-bred reputation only seemed to increase its appeal. The XKSS was launched at the 1957 New York Auto Show to immediate acclaim, with orders for 25 cars. By February 12, 16 of the cars had been completed but the nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in the infamous Browns Lane fire; an inferno that destroyed nearly a third of Jaguar's factory. 

Although general production was restarted within weeks, the key tools and wooden bucks needed to form te XKSS monocoque and its curvaceous panels had been destroyed. Without these, no cars could be made. What had been intended as a limited run of about 25 cars instantly became even more exclusive, with only 16 examples of the XKSS surviving. 

Hollywood actor Steve McQueen bought one in 1958, and when he later sold it, he missed it so much he bought it back. 

In 2016, Jaguar announced that its classic division would build the nine ‘‘lost'' XKSS sports cars for a select groupof collectors and customers. The nine cars were built completely new, with period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log. 

The build process involved using a combination of original drawings from Jaguar's archive and modern technology. The Jaguar classic engineering team scanned several versions of the 1957 XKSS to help build a complete digital image of the car, from the body to chassis, and including all parts required. 

The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy, as it was in 1957, and because the original styling bucks do not exist, Ja

uar classic produced a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodie

from the 1950s. The bodies of the nine new cars were formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.

Jaguar Land Rover special vehicle operations managing director John Edwards, who is in New Zealand to deliver the car, said bringing the XKSS back to life was a labour of love for all involved, each vehicle taking about 10,000 hours to complete.  

‘‘The designers have paid particular attention to ensuring precise detail even down to the number, type and placement of each of 2000 rivets used,'' Edwards said.
Armstrong Prestige dealer principal Muir Gold said the chance to see the XKSS was too good to miss.

‘‘To see the vehicle in person is a real privilege for us,'' he said.

Also in next weekend's heritage display at Armstrong Prestige on Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sunday from 10am-4pm, will be Jaguar models owned by the Otago Jaguar Drivers Club. They are from the 1950s to 1970s and include an XK150 and 420g Auto. There is a 1966 Jaguar MKII example and a recreation of the 1951 Le Mans winning C Type. 

Jaguar's Art of Performance Tour, an urban, driving experience will be in Dunedin for three days from November 28 to November 30 and those interested in participating can book at Armstrong Prestige Dunedin.