The ‘New Original’: Jaguar XKSS Makes World Debut in Los Angeles

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The first genuine Jaguar XKSS to be built in almost 60 years was today given its world debut presentation at the Petersen Museum, Los Angeles by Jaguar Classic. The stunning XKSS, finished in Sherwood Green paint, has been created by the Jaguar Classic engineering team ahead of the production of nine cars for delivery to customers across the globe in 2017.

Often referred to as the world’s first supercar, the XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954 -1956. In 1957, nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in the British Midlands; meaning just 16 examples of XKSS were built.

Earlier this year Jaguar announced that its Classic division would build the nine ‘lost’ XKSS sports cars for a select group of established collectors and customers. The new one-off XKSS presented in Los Angeles is the summation of 18 months of research and will be used as a blueprint from which the nine continuation cars are built.

The nine cars will be completely new, with period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log. All cars are now sold at a price in excess of £1million each ($1,240,964.04).

The XKSS is the second continuation car to be created by Jaguar, following on from the six Lightweight E-types that were built in 2014. This project helped the team learn to engineer cars that are faithful to the specifications to which they were built in period, and this knowledge has been enhanced in creating the ‘new original’ XKSS.

The XKSS unveiled in Los Angeles is a period correct continuation, built using a combination of original drawings from Jaguar’s archive and modern technology. The Jaguar Classic engineering team scanned several versions of the 1957 XKSS to help build a complete digital image of the car, from the body to chassis, and including all parts required.

The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy, as it was in 1957, and because the original styling bucks do not exist, Jaguar Classic produced a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodies from the 1950s. The bodies of the nine new cars will be formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.

Jaguar Classic’s expert engineers worked with the original frames and from there produced CAD to support build of the chassis. In partnership with the Classic team, frame maker Reynolds – famous for their 531 tubing – was briefed to craft bespoke new parts using imperial measurements, rather than metric. The frames are bronze welded in the same way as the period XKSS chassis tubing.

The continuation cars feature period specification four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes with a Plessey pump, and Dunlop tires with riveted two-piece magnesium alloy wheels.

Under the bonnet, the XKSS is supplied with a 262hp 3.4-liter straight six-cylinder Jaguar D-type engine. The engine features completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors.

Inside, the ‘new original’ XKSS features perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges. Everything from the wood of the steering wheel, to the grain of the leather seats, through to the brass knobs on the XKSS dashboard, is precisely as it would have been in 1957.

Minor specification changes have been made only to improve driver and passenger safety. The fuel cell, for example, uses robust, modern materials to support throughput of modern fuels.

Customer vehicles will be hand-built beginning this year, and it is estimated that 10,000 man hours will go into building each of the new XKSS cars.

Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineering Manager, said: “The XKSS is one of the most important cars in Jaguar’s history, and we are committed to making the ‘new original’ version absolutely faithful to the period car in every way.

“From the number, type and position of all the rivets used – there are more than 2,000 in total – to the Smiths gauges on the dashboard, everything is the same as the original cars, because that is the way it should be.”

Tim Hannig, Director of Jaguar Land Rover Classic, said: “The XKSS continuation program underlines the world-class expertise we have at Jaguar Land Rover Classic. We are committed to nurturing the passion and enthusiasm for Jaguar’s illustrious past by offering exceptional cars, services, parts and experiences.

“Jaguar Land Rover Classic is perfectly positioned to cater for this growing love for classics, with a new £7.5m global headquarters set to open in Coventry in 2017. We are looking forward to growing this business, supporting our existing customers and engaging with a whole new generation of global enthusiasts.”

Stunningly beautiful Jaguar Classic engineering. Should there be interest, contact us at Jaguar Orlando, and we’ll make arrangements for you. And we’ll keep you up-to-date on all the relevant news and information about the Jaguar experience.

Jaguar’s Ian Callum On Restraint, Leadership, And Following Up On A Hit Design

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“AT THE END OF THE DAY, I STILL WANT PEOPLE TO LOOK AT THIS CAR AND THINK, I WANT TO GET IN AND DRIVE IT!”

Ian Callum is one of the automotive world’s most emulated designers. His knack for sculpting cars that are both practical and elegant has taken him from Ford in the ’90s to Aston Martin, with classics like the Escort Cosworth and DB9 in the rear view. Now director of design at Jaguar, his team is helping the luxury brand scrap with the German giants for mainstream appeal with sporty new sedans and crossovers.

What are the particular design features people should be looking for in the new XE, your new small sedan?

Any designer will say this, but I think we at Jaguar are better at it. We work harder. The big picture for me, what matters, is the 200-yard look, where the car has a certain proportion, a certain profile and stance. We worked first and foremost at that. The detailing is almost secondary.

I always call it the draftsmanship of the picture. If you’re drawing a picture, the big picture, if you don’t get that right, nothing will be right. I could mention a few cars—but I won’t—that applies to. But we work very hard and Jaguar has an exciting entry [into the midsize segment], albeit not hugely different in terms of everything else. It never has been. I think there’s [an idea] that Jags look completely different. They haven’t really been, they’re just a little more better balanced, beautiful to look at, and so I work very hard with the team to get the proportions and the silhouette of the car as exciting as we can, within the constraints of the type of car that it is.

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That’s the first thing. And then we apply the details almost on top of that. Graphics and stuff are very important, too. The other thing we always work very hard at is to make sure that the lines on the car really have a quality. You can quantify something; they’re not there randomly. They’ve actually got a job to do, drawing your eyes through the car or around it.

It’s really about collectively getting the draftsmanship of the car right. That’s the most important thing. Then you get into details such as lamps and graphics and grille and such like after that. They’re almost secondary. They still have to be good! But not as important as the silhouette of the car. Also the way the car sits relevant to the road. It’s subtle stuff, this. It’s not things that people simply recognize or are conscious of it, but we are subconsciously making them look at the car.

Speaking of, how much are you thinking about new customer enticement and catching eyes in a design, versus how a car is perceived after someone’s already purchased it?

It’s a good question. What we do is try to capture a spirit in a drawing, something that’s dramatic, and my job is to try to hold to that drama always through the process. And it’s a long process; it takes three years. That initial sense of excitement when you draw a car on pencil and paper, we analyze what’s exciting about it and we try to hold on to it.

In the meantime, you have to face absolute practicality [about] the car and how people live with it. And we just deal with that in an incremental way. We arrange the rear end, dimensional attributes, we’ll work hard with our engineering department. We work very hard with the engineers to create sections which are as strong as anything else and will be more efficient, and help us create the shape that we want.

At the end of the day, we may make a decision to reduce a certain dimension in the car—head room, or whatever it might be—as a result of just saying, “This is important.” That’s judgement we have to make. And you know, we’ve gone to several extremes with that in the past. But as we grow up as a company, we have to be a bit more pragmatic, so we go through that judgement bit by bit, little by little, and we push every millimeter of the car to affect the style along with the practicality.

That’s just how we work. I think we do that with great consciousness and awareness. And we come up with the car we’ve got at the end of the day. It takes effort. A lot of car companies and a lot of designers will have a set of hard points to work by because they’ll need to meet physical attributes, and they’ll perhaps join the dots and create the car you’re going to get. We don’t quite do it like that at Jaguar. The passion’s too much. Something that is visually attractive as well is a very important part of our heritage.

The F-Type was obviously an indicator of a new direction in the visual styling of Jaguar. What was it like designing something like the XE that is a little more restrained after something that was a little more balls out?

“Ball’s out.” I like that. The thing with the F-Type is that it had its own challenges. You’ve still got to get two people in it—and hopefully most of their luggage. But its first primary function is just to look great. It’s a huge amount of pleasure in creating something that looks that good. But even then, you’re still faced within the constraints of safety and aerodynamics and everything else.

The bigger challenge in doing something like the XE is that you’ve got an extra three people in the car, over and above an F-Type. It’s hugely challenging, and of course you can’t have the indulgence of swooping forms in the back, because you’ve got three people sitting abreast, and you can’t make the car narrower. We approached it in a pragmatic way. You use judgments, and the judgement for this car was: We have to make it big enough to get three people in the back. That’s just a fact of life. That judgement is made for you. That’s why people buy it.

I think subconsciously you approach it differently. You don’t go out to design a sports car and then find that you’re getting bullied into creating something different. You don’t accidentally design a sedan. But in our case, we set out to create a sedan that’s got a little bit more of an edge to it, and to its competitors.

When you start off at the beginning [designing a sedan] you start with a slightly different attitude, I think. It’s hard, though. It’s hard.

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I feel like the saloon cars end up, on the street, more important to the brand image than the sports cars, in a way, because they’re more attainable.

That’s absolutely true.

With the XE, what are you trying to telegraph—what persona, image, or idea—to the driver?

“I want to drive it!” We’re still a sports car company. Our orientation is still sporty. Just because we’re creating a car for five people doesn’t change that value, it’s just that our constraints and our objectives are a little different. At the end of the day, I still want people to look at this car and think, I want to get in and drive it!

Now if someone said to me, “Design a car that looks very static and, let’s say, conservative. . . .” I don’t want to use the word safe, because all the connotations, but safe in terms of its character, [a car] that’s going to look tame. I could design that. But it wouldn’t be a Jaguar. It might be something else. And I’m sure other brands approach their [design] slightly differently, but it’s important to us at Jaguar that we message the fact that this is a sports car, it’s a driver’s car. Hence the silhouette.

I have to tell you: I’ve driven the car and it’s almost as fun to drive as the F-Type, in terms of agility and handling. It’s very impressive. And we give that message as you approach it. It looks quite racy; I quite like racy, it’s an old-fashioned word. And does it deliver? That’s another important thing: If you’re going to message something, it should deliver.

But that is the message: We are a sporty car company for sporty people. [laughs] And hopefully more youthfully minded people, as well.

I can tell you that in the United States, at least among my enthusiast friends, the brand has a lot more attention than it did even five years ago.

That’s exactly what I want. We only survive as a brand to create F-Types as long as we can create other cars that enough people buy. Two things should happen: You gain a following, which speaks to brand momentum long-term. As you get older, you might move into something more expensive or a larger car. Also, the respect of the brand has to grow by word of mouth and attitude. And we’ve struggled for years, especially in the U.S., with reputation inherited from years back, and just lack of familiarity. We’ve got two models [of] F-Type [in addition to] the XJ; and the XF is a good seller, but [relatively] low volume. People don’t really know what the brand is. What the XE will do is bring it to the forefront of people who love the brand and can consider it as a purchase and seriously enjoy it, and actually tell others, ‘This is a great brand.’ But if we don’t have the XE, we’ll never get there.

Does that make sense?

I think we saw something similar here in the 2000s with Mercedes, when they started selling the C230 hatchback. Mercedes never had any penetration in the enthusiast or youth market. Just by having something that was, honestly, not a very great car, but something that could introduce people to the brand, or the experience of owning a Mercedes . . . Those people now, a decade or more on, will consider an S-Class, when they never would have considered one before.

We struggled without it for so long. Our entry car was a midsized luxury sedan, which is not going to reach the pocket of most people in their 30s. Except in China; there are a lot more young rich people over there! And now this next month, we’ll introduce F-Pace, which is a crossover. So we’re going from a three-car brand to a five-car brand in 18 months, so that’s almost doubled our visibility. In fact, in terms of volume, it will more than double our visibility, because we’re going into less niche markets with these two cars.

You have a name. You’re well-regarded in your industry. What is it like being “the name” while working with younger designers on your team? How does it affect them and how do you manage the occasional awkwardness of that while trying to help them develop their own careers?

You’re very flattering. I don’t really see myself as being anything more than the chief designer of Jaguar. While I’m in the studio, I’m one of the guys amongst younger people. We just work together; we’re friends. The last thing I want people on my team to feel difficult about is being honest. I do encourage their creativity. I still challenge them, because I still have this huge drive to be as [much of] a creative force as I can. Sometimes the young people hear the stuff I want to do and think I’m slightly crazy, but then they get into it and realize there was some reasoning behind it. I will listen to them all, be that work or other things. I like to think—and you may want to talk to them one day and find out!—when I’m in the studio I’m treated with the same amount of respect that anyone else should expect, but not with any great favor.

The difference is, people will look towards me for that final judgement, for a final decision. The biggest part of my job is to make decisions and direct. I have quite a firm hand. They know that. They get space beforehand. They know that, too. Young guys in their 20s, working on clay models, I may give them a little bit of coaching on one or two bits; maybe they talk back occasionally. (I’m quite happy when they do that.) It’s a very open environment. Compared to other studios I’ve seen, I think mine is a bit different; [in other studios] the boss can be quite intimidating, [it's] very scary to say what you think. I will not tolerate that sort of attitude; I want people to be as open as possible.

So it’s not a place of “I’m a name.” We work together as a team. And I’ve encouraged that culture.

Just want to say that I badly wanted an Escort Cosworth when I was a kid, and it never came out here. But thanks all the same.

I can tell you a funny story there, actually. My son was growing up, and when he got to the age of eight or nine, he started to like cars. And he said to me, “Dad, my favorite car is the Escort Cosworth.” I said, “Oh, really!” I couldn’t tell him until he was about 15 that I actually designed it. He was quite flabbergasted when he eventually found out; quite a nice moment when I finally told him. For a few moments—a least a few days—his respect for me went up a couple of notches. But that soon faded. . . .

Come visit Jaguar Orlando and see all the features, design cues and flat-out hot Jaguar styling that Mr. Callum discusses about his work as Jaguar’s premier designer.

Interview/article by Joel Johnson, for Fast Company | Design

E-Type Takes Over Amelia Island

Jaguar has an historic E-Types good show at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida this weekend.

Among the cars that were shown as part of the 50th anniversary of the E-Type, as described by Jag:

  • Group 44 Series III V-12 E-Type. The Group 44 team campaigned this Series III E-Type in the “B” Production class of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National events. A Divisional champion in 1974, it went on to capture the SCCA’s BP National Championship in 1975. A part of the permanent collection of the Jaguar Heritage Museum, the V-12 E-Type will return after its brief stay in the U.S. to the United Kingdom to participate in this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
  • Cunningham E-Type Coupe. In 1962, the eponymous team of Briggs Cunningham entered this production-based Series I E-Type Fixed Head coupe at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. Though prepared by the Jaguar factory, the car was built up from mostly production parts, unlike the subsequent “Lightweight” E-Type Roadsters that followed. Though out gunned by the factory-entered Ferraris, the venerable XK-engined car finished fourth overall, averaging 108.82 mph covering nearly 2,611 miles in the process. The car is a permanent part of the privately held Collier Collection of Naples, Fla.

Also on display at “The Amelia” will be a selection of cars from Jaguar’s 2011 model lineup. At least these can be driven:

The E-Type made its debut in 1961. In the U.S., it was the XK-E. That’s a ’61 E-Type in the photo, above.

“Jaguar’s spirit of innovation and breakthrough design, so clearly expressed in the E-Type, is still alive today, and is a defining essence of the new Jaguar lineup, led by the award winning new XJ luxury sedan,” said Gary Temple, president of Jaguar Land Rover North America.

See it for yourself – footage from the show.

And then come in and test drive the innovation for yourself at Jaguar of Orlando.

A Jaguar Icon Turns 50

Jaguar is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the E-Type, the brand’s iconic sports car with events all year. Rumors are about of an introduction of a new E-Type because fans would love to see it. If there is to be one, it’s likely to show up at the Geneva Motor Show and the New York Auto Show and the Goodwood Festival of Speed where Jag says it’s going to celebrate.

Nothing says Jaguar like the E-Type. It debuted in Geneva in 1961. The car defined the sleek, low-slung, muscular appearance that still defines Jag.

“Half a century of progress has not diminished the significance of the E-Type,” said Mike O’Driscoll, Managing Director Jaguar Cars and Chairman Jaguar Heritage. “It was a sensation when it was launched, and remains Jaguar’s most enduring and iconic symbol.”

E-Type owners have included Steve McQueen, Brigitte Bardot, and Tony Curtis. The E-Type was also known as the XK-E in the United States. That’s a 1970 model in the photo, above. A total of 72,520 E-Types were produced. Of those, 83% were exported from England. Other fun facts:

The E-type’s straight-six engine had powered Jaguar to five Le Mans victories in the 1950s and by 1961 in 3.8-litre form produced 265 horsepower, giving the car a top speed in excess of 150 miles per hour.

  • At launch the E-Type cost $5,595 for the Roadster or “OTS” (Open two-seater) and $5,895 for the Coupe or “FHC” (Fixed head coupe) this included standard wire wheels. Adjusted for inflation in 2011 dollars, the E-type would cost about $41,000 for the roadster and $43,000 for the coupe.
  • The E-Type’s perfectly proportioned bodywork was the work of Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical engineer by training who also applied his aerodynamic expertise in shaping the earlier Le Mans-winning C and D-Type racers.
  • The E-type remained in production for 14 years, selling more than 70,000 units, making it Europe’s first mass-produced sports car.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact the E-Type had when it was unveiled in 1961,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar design director. “Here was a car that encapsulated the spirit of the revolutionary era it came to symbolize.”

What Jaguar model made you a lifetime fan? Was it the E-Type? Tell us the first time you laid eyes on a Jaguar and how it changed your view of an automobile. We all have a story.

Jaguar of Orlando