$1.76m Jaguar home in NZ

South Waikato News - - Motoring - DAVID LINKLATER

New-car day is al­ways ex­cit­ing, but this is some­thing else.

Auck­land-based au­to­mo­tive dis­trib­u­tor Gil­trap Group has taken de­liv­ery of a ‘‘con­tin­u­a­tion’’ Jaguar XKSS built to an ex­act­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion . . . from 1957. The car is worth NZ$1.76M and will re­main in the com­pany’s hands as a show­piece for the Jaguar brand in NZ and one very cool col­lectible.

The Jaguar XKSS was launched in 1957 as a road­go­ing ver­sion of the Le Mans-win­ning D-type racer. Jaguar planned to build 25, but only 16 were com­pleted be­fore a fac­tory fire de­stroyed the en­tire project.

One of the car’s most fa­mous own­ers was movie star Steve Mcqueen, who had his re­painted in Bri­tish Rac­ing Green (BRG) and called it the ‘‘Green Rat’’.

Now, Jaguar Clas­sic – a divi­sion of the mar­que’s Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions (SVO) – has em­barked on a project to com­plete the re­main­ing nine cars.

The ‘‘new’’ XKSS mod­els are hand-built ex­actly to 1957 spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with the only real con­ces­sions to con­ve­nience/safety 2017-style be­ing a mod­ern bat­tery and stronger fuel tank.

The ‘‘con­tin­u­a­tion’’ cars are just that, tech­ni­cally part of that orig­i­nal pro­duc­tion run from 1957 rather than merely repli­cas.

The Gil­trap Group ex­am­ple is of­fi­cially ‘‘Car Two’’, but it’s ac­tu­ally the first one to be com­pleted and de­liv­ered; Car One is still a work in progress. All nine are al­ready sold.

The Kiwi-car is also the only con­tin­u­a­tion XKSS to be fin­ished in sil­ver. BRG has been a pop­u­lar choice with other cus­tomers, as has white (the orig­i­nal colour of Mcqueen’s car, as it hap­pens).

The XKSS is the sec­ond con­tin­u­a­tion project from Jaguar Clas­sic. The first was the ‘‘miss­ing six’’ Light­weight E-types, from a 1963 project to cre­ate 18 rac­ing ver­sions of the iconic car with alu­minium bod­ies and D-type en­gines. Only 12 were built and de­liv­ered in 1964, but the project was com­pleted in 2015 when Jaguar Clas­sic built the last six chas­sis num­bers.

John Ed­wards, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Jaguar Land Rover Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions, was in Auck­land to de­liver the XKSS to Gil­trap Group on June 23 (and watch some rugby of course: Land Rover is prin­ci­pal part­ner of the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions).

The Light­weight E-type was partly the cat­a­lyst for the XKSS con­tin­u­a­tion project, says Ed­wards: ‘‘We had a num­ber of cus­tomers who were frus­trated that they missed out on the Light­weight E-type. They said, ‘if we can’t have that, what else can you do?’’’.

How­ever, such projects are not the core busi­ness of Jaguar Clas­sic. ‘‘Th­ese kinds of things will be an in­creas­ingly small part of our busi­ness in the fu­ture,’’ says Ed­wards.

‘‘Restora­tion of ex­ist­ing cars will be our main fo­cus. We’ve al­ready launched three pro­grammes: Land Rover Se­ries One, Range Rover [the orig­i­nal three-door model] and the E-type.’’

‘‘The other big el­e­ment to our busi­ness is parts. There are more than a mil­lion clas­sic Jaguars and Land Rovers out there and the thing they all have in com­mon is that they need parts.’’ A valu­able out­come from the con­tin­u­a­tion projects is that Jaguar Clas­sic has de­vel­oped its ex­per­tise in cre­at­ing pro­to­type tool­ing to recre­ate parts that are long out of pro­duc­tion.

‘‘This re­ally en­ables us to ser­vice that mar­ket,’’ says Ed­wards. ‘‘If you have a D-type, for ex­am­ple, you need parts and those cus­tomers are will­ing to pay a lot of money for a high-qual­ity prod­uct that’s OEM stan­dard.’’ Ed­wards says those clients cho­sen for the XKSS weren’t nec­es­sar­ily bigspend­ing friends of the brand (al­though that must have helped).

‘‘There was an el­e­ment of first-come-first­served, but there were other con­sid­er­a­tions. Many col­lec­tors lock their cars away but we didn’t want that. Pref­er­ence was given to those who would show the car; we want as many peo­ple to see it as pos­si­ble.’’

Gil­trap Group XKSS on dis­play in Auck­land. This is ‘‘Car 2’’ of the con­tin­u­a­tion run . . . but the first to be com­pleted.

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