'New' 1957 Jaguar XKSS worth $1.76m now home in New Zealand
New-car day is always exciting, but this is something else.
Auckland-based automotive distributor Giltrap Group has taken delivery of a "continuation" Jaguar XKSS built to an exacting specification... from 1957. The car is worth NZ$1.76m and will remain in the company's hands as a showpiece for the Jaguar brand in NZ and one very cool collectible.
The Jaguar XKSS was launched in 1957 as a roadgoing version of the Le Mans-winning D-Type racer. Jaguar planned to build 25, but only 16 were completed before a factory fire destroyed the entire project.
One of the car's most famous owners was movie star Steve McQueen, who had his repainted in British Racing Green (BRG) and called it the "Green Rat".
Now, Jaguar Classic - a division of the marque's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) - has embarked on a project to complete the remaining nine cars.
The "new" XKSS models are hand-built exactly to 1957 specification, with the only real concessions to convenience/safety 2017-style being a modern battery and stronger fuel tank.
The "continuation" cars are just that, technically part of that original production run from 1957 rather than merely replicas.
The Giltrap Group example is officially "Car Two", but it's actually the first one to be completed and delivered; Car One is still a work in progress. All nine are already sold.
The Kiwi-car is also the only continuation XKSS to be finished in silver. BRG has been a popular choice with other customers, as has white (the original colour of McQueen's car, as it happens).
The XKSS is the second continuation project from Jaguar Classic. The first was the "missing six" Lightweight E-Types, from a 1963 project to create 18 racing versions of the iconic car with aluminium bodies and D-Type engines. Only 12 were built and delivered in 1964, but the project was completed in 2015 when Jaguar Classic built the last six chassis numbers.
John Edwards, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, was in Auckland to deliver the XKSS to Giltrap Group on June 23 (and watch some rugby of course: Land Rover is principal partner of the British and Irish Lions).
The Lightweight E-Type was partly the catalyst for the XKSS continuation project, says Edwards: "We had a number of customers who were frustrated that they missed out on the Lightweight E-Type. They said, 'if we can't have that, what else can you do?'".
However, such projects are not the core business of Jaguar Classic. "These kinds of things will be an increasingly small part of our business in the future," says Edwards.
"Restoration of existing cars will be our main focus. We've already launched three programmes: Land Rover Series One, Range Rover [the original three-door model] and the E-Type.
"We already have 20-30 orders for each of those cars and that's a major undertaking.
"The other big element to our business is parts. There are more than a million classic Jaguars and Land Rovers out there and the thing they all have in common is that they need parts."
A valuable outcome from the continuation projects is that Jaguar Classic has developed its expertise in creating prototype tooling to recreate parts that are long out of production.
"This really enables us to service that market," says Edwards. "If you have a D-Type, for example, you need parts and those customers are willing to pay a lot of money for a high-quality product that's OEM standard."
With so very few continuation cars available and so much interest, merely having the money wasn't enough to get you on the list. There had to be a selection process.
"This is actually quite new for us," says Edwards. "At JLR we're used to going out and trying to sell cars to as many customers as possible."
Edwards says those clients chosen for the XKSS weren't necessarily big-spending friends of the brand (although that must have helped).
"There was an element of first-come-first-served, but there were other considerations. Many collectors lock their cars away but we didn't want that. Preference was given to those who would show the car; we want as many people to see it as possible.
"We also love the idea of people going out and racing. Because that's great to see... and also because they're much more likely to need some parts."
Giltrap Group certainly qualifies on the former point and let's hope it can steer clear of the latter in this exquisite car.