APR 03rd 2015

Goodwood Greats: Jaguar XKSS

After a brief sabbatical while we made room on GRR for the 73rd Goodwood Members’ Meeting, we’re delighted to announce that Goodwood Greats is back. Not only that, but 73MM allowed us to harvest another selection of very special racing motor cars for your delectation.

But before we get on to the Members’ Meeting cars we have some unfinished business to attend to from the 2014 Revival, starting with this impossibly gorgeous Jaguar XKSS. Like the Ferrari GTO we shared a few weeks ago it belongs to Lord Bamford. Splendid cars both, sir!

The popular story regarding the advent of the XKSS is that the cars were converted from unsold racing D-Types after Jaguar’s withdrawal from competition in 1955, and that the withdrawal itself was as a result of the horrific crash at the 1955 event. D-Types went on to win famously at Le Mans in 1956 in the hand of Ecurie Ecosse, but in fact there was also a ‘works’ presence of Jaguar D-Types at Le Mans in 1956.

It was at the end of 1956 that Jaguar withdrew from competition and then sought to claw some of its investment back by converting the unused D-Type chassis into road cars and selling them in America, where European sports cars were becoming popular. So a passenger door was added along with a windscreen, sidescreens, a basic roof , bumpers and of course rear light units.

By February 1957, 25 cars had either been completed, or were nearing that stage when a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant destroyed nine of them. What we have here is one of the surviving 16 cars, most of which were sold to the States as intended. Despite its rather pristine appearance, we were honoured that it was permitted to take part in the D-Type race at last year’s Revival meeting.

It may be the only machine so far amongst our Goodwood Greats which was originally built as a road car (despite its racing heritage), but looking at it here in our makeshift studio in its metallic grey paint and  contrasting oxblood trim, we couldn’t have forgiven ourselves if we hadn’t included it.  

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