During the 1950’s automobile manufacturers were at the forefront of new technologies. Their cars were taking different shapes as they explored aerodynamics and newer techniques of building more efficient machines. The inspiration came from aviation, and had brought over the technology to develop monocoque frames that were not only lighter, but far rigid too, promising better handling at high speeds. These technological advancements brought in a new era of motor cars that were lighter, faster and could cut through air more efficiently. This is when Jaguar though it would be a great time to bring out their paper and pens to create a new car with a design that followed these new learnings. And the result was the Jaguar D-type. Sharing common underpinnings with the previous Jaguar C-Type, it also had the same 3.4-litre straight-six engine. But the combination of a lighter engine and superior aerodynamics meant that the D-Types were ferocious machines, carrying speeds of over 175 mph (281 kmph) on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, where the 4.9-Litre Ferrari’s could only manage 160 mph (257.5 kmph). They became the untouchable powerhouses, going to win the Le Mans race consecutively between 1955, 1956 and 1957.
Here’s an onboard clip of the Jaguar D-Type driven by Formula 1 World Champion Mike Hawthorn from 1956 as he gives a live demonstration of the Le Mans circuit:
When Jaguar decided to stop racing in 1975, they had 25 finished D-types that were lying around in the factory. Unwilling to see such potential going to waste, the company decided to fit the cars with road-going equipment so that they can be sold to private teams who wanted to use them for production sports car racing in United States, giving birth to the Jaguar XKSS. Unfortunately before they could be sent out, 9 cars were destroyed in a factory fire, leaving the world with just a sum of 16 very exclusive, every expensive Jaguar racers.
Now, 59 years later, Jaguar’s recently-formed Classic devision (renamed from Heritage to Classic) has decided to do bring the lost property back to existance. The experience that the company’s team of engineers have gained from the Lightweight E-Type project will to be put to use to restore the remaining 9 cars. Each of these cars will be hand-built at the company’s new experimental workshop in Warwick for a exclusive bunch of collectors and customers. Each new-old Jaguar XKSS is expected to be build to the exact same specification as the original and will be valued in excess of £1 million when they are completed in 2017.