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One Of The Rarest, Sexiest Sports Cars, A Jaguar XKSS Comes To Auction, Estimate $16-18 Million

Forbes logo Forbes 2017-02-14 Mark Ewing, Contributor

Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

Jaguar XKD, or D-type, was one of the most successful sports-racing cars in history, claiming victory at Le Mans three years in a row, in 1955, ’56, and ’57. Along with the C-type that won Le Mans in 1951 and ’53, the D-type forms the bedrock of the Jaguar legend. With aerodynamic bodywork penned by Malcolm Sayer, it is also one of the sexiest sports-racing cars ever.

Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

Racing rules changed for 1958 and the Jaguar straight six would no longer be competitive. Margins were thin at Jaguar in the 1950s just as they are today, and Jaguar boss William Lyons had to market a batch of 25 unsold D-type race cars. He began converting them for road use. The result is the XKSS, one of the rarest and most exhilarating sports cars of the Golden Era, a car sexier than the race car it was based upon. Only 16 XKSS were completed before Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory burned, consuming nine undelivered XKSS. The fire adds to the XKSS legend and value of the cars. Jaguar rose from the ashes by applying lessons learned with the D-type and XKSS to create the E-type road car.

ABOVE: On August 15, 2010, 12 of the 16 Jaguar XKSS sports cars ever built were reunited at Pebble Beach. Based on the Le Mans-winning D-type, only 16 XKSS models were built before February 12, 1957, when a fire at the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane destroyed the remaining D-types. This is believed to be the largest gathering of XKSS cars ever. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC ABOVE: On August 15, 2010, 12 of the 16 Jaguar XKSS sports cars ever built were reunited at Pebble Beach. Based on the Le Mans-winning D-type, only 16 XKSS models were built before February 12, 1957, when a fire at the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane destroyed the remaining D-types. This is believed to be the largest gathering of XKSS cars ever.

Based on the Le Mans-winning D-type, only 16 XKSS models were built before February 12, 1957, when a fire at the Jaguar factory in Browns Lane destroyed the remaining D-types. This is believed to be the largest gathering of XKSS cars ever.

The XKSS Gooding & Company will auction at Amelia Island next month, chassis XKSS 716, was delivered new to Montreal, Canada, where it was raced with success between 1957 and 1961. XKSS 716 passed through the hands of several prominent Jaguar enthusiasts, and eventually retired to the world of vintage rallies. The current owner acquired XKSS 716 nearly two decades ago.

Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

In the past decade, XKSS 716 received a complete, show-quality restoration by UK-based marque specialist Pearsons Engineering. XKSS 716 made its concours debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2010, where a special XKSS class reunited 12 of the 16 original cars on the Pebble Beach greens (see photo). Since this outing, XKSS 716 has been shown at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and participated on vintage tours in Europe and North America.

1957_jaguar_xkss_0120_bh © Provided by Forbes Media LLC 1957_jaguar_xkss_0120_bh

XKSS is legendary enough, and so important to the value of the Jaguar brand, that Jaguar’s Classic division has built nine “continuation” cars, fulfilling the VINs of the XKSS lost in the Browns Lane fire. Those cars are likely already sold off, and will pass through private hands in coming years. A decade has passed since one of the original 16 XKSS was offered at public auction, with most examples well ensconced in private collections. Little surprise the estimate is $16-$18 million.

Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. © Provided by Forbes Media LLC Photos by Brian Henniker. All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.

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