The XKSS, one of the rarest Jaguars, originated from the D-Type racing series. The D-Type was produced in large quantities to meet FIA sports car regulations, resulting in surplus stock. To address this, Jaguar converted these unused D-Types for road use, creating the XKSS. This idea is attributed to Jaguar driver Duncan Hamilton, who added a windscreen and hood to his 1954 Le Mans car in 1956.

To adapt the D-Type for the road, several modifications were made: a passenger seat and door were added, the divider between driver and passenger was removed, a full-width windscreen was fitted, and the exhaust system was heat-shielded. Weather protection included a mohair hood and detachable side screens, and since the boot was occupied by twin fuel tanks and a spare wheel, a luggage rack was added to the tail.

The 3.4-litre XK engine, nearly unchanged from its racing specs, delivered around 250bhp, giving the 914kg car impressive performance. Production began in late 1956, but a fire at Brown’s Lane in February 1957 destroyed many bodyshells, limiting production to just 16 units by its end in November 1957.

In 1957, the XKSS recorded a 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds and 0-100mph in 13.6 seconds, impressive even by modern standards. With a top speed exceeding 150mph, it remained Jaguar’s fastest catalogued sports car for years.

Photos by Zach Brehl courtesy of RM Sotheby’s