Jaguar’s SVO Division Plans To Revive XK SS
The XK SS is a bit of an enigma in Jaguar history. Based on the Jaguar D-Type race car that won Le Mans in 1955 and 1956, it’s not only one of the rarest Jaguars ever built, but also one of the most beautiful. A planned production run of 25 was cut short when a fire broke out in Jaguar’s factory in Coventry, England, destroying nine. Most of the remaining 16 made their way to the U.S. Steve McQueen ended up with one and nicknamed it “The Green Rat.” He and “The Rat” were such a terror on the streets of Los Angeles that the LAPD Sherriff put up a steak dinner bounty for the officer who brought him in.
Not every XK SS has such an interesting story, but according to Netherlands-based Autovisie, Jaguar might be looking to create a few new ones. John Edwards, the Chief Executive of Jaguar Department of Special Vehicle Operations, says his department’s next project could be building the final nine XK SSs that were consumed in the factory fire. He and others within Jaguar SVO are looking at three or four ideas, but the XK SS is definitely a front-runner.
Last year Jaguar SVO announced it would be building six “new” Lightweight E-Types using original specifications and construction methods from 1963. All six have already been spoken for. Like the XK SS, Lightweight E-Type production was also cut short, but for different reasons. Edwards says good stories like this are a requirement for SVO cars. Delivering the final nine XK SSs almost 60 years late would definitely make for a compelling story.
Click past the jump to read more about the Jaguar XK SS.
Why it matters
Projects like this, especially when undertaken by the original manufacturer, really press all the right nostalgia buttons for car geeks, and that’s the point. They provide a direct connection from the manufacturer’s glory days to the present. These cars aren’t the work of a moment either. In Jaguar’s case, they require an expert team of engineers with knowledge of build techniques that haven’t been used in decades. To make things more difficult, like all new Jaguars, these cars are subjected to a 15-day shakedown run at Jaguar Land Rover’s test facility.
Jaguar never officially announced pricing for the “new” Lightweight E-Type, but rumors suggest each one sold for around $1.5 million. Even if the “new” XK SS retails for three times that amount, it could represent a relative bargain. McQueen’s original XK SS, which now resides at the Peterson Auto Museum in Los Angeles, was recently valued at around $25 million.