Unveiled at an event at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles that coincided with November’s LA Auto Show, the first newly built Jaguar XKSS was an immediate hit with both Jaguar fanatics and the assembled media alike.
Known simply as Car Zero, this 2016-built, Sherwood Green coloured ‘continuation car’ has been modelled almost to the last nut and bolt on the legendary, now near priceless, 1957 vehicle of the same name.
Painstakingly crafted over 18-months by Jaguar Classic, the new XKSS will form the blueprint for a production run of just nine cars that have already been snapped-up by collectors for a cool £1 million each.
“The XKSS is one of the most important cars in Jaguar’s history,” said Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineer Manager.
“We are committed to making the ‘new original’ version absolutely faithful to the period car in every way.”
Why just nine cars, though? To answer to that classic-car-conundrum we have to go back to 1956, when Jaguar decided to reconfigure their surplus of 25 D-Type racers into street-legal supercars for export to the US that they branded the XKSS.
Actor and racing driver Steve McQueen was an early adopter of the two-seater – and made the first batch of sports cars famous by hurtling around the Hollywood Hills in his beloved ‘Green Rat’, a car now valued at an estimated $30 million and kept at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
However, back in February 1957 at the Jaguar factory in Coventry, a fire ripped through the facility, destroying the final nine work-in-progress vehicles and incurring an impromptu and permanent halt to the project.
Now, nearly 60 years later, Car Zero has been wooing the masses, including former chat-show host Jay Leno, who featured the new XKSS in a special episode of Jay Leno’s Garage. Needless to say, the Jaguar obsessive, who owns in excess of 130 classic cars, was utterly smitten.
Although Car Zero is not currently road legal, owing to modern-day safety and emissions standards, Kev Riches found time to indulge his inner Steve McQueen by blasting the XKSS around a series of closed Californian country roads – and we were there to document the drive. Not bad work if you can get it, we say.