Owned at the time by Overseas Motors in Fort Worth, Texas, the first Jaguar XK-SS in the United States is taken out by Dave Tallaksen for a run at Eagle Mountain in April 1957. At this point the only competition preparation performed on the car is that its canvas top has been removed.
Photo: Bob Jackson
By late 1956 the production of Jaguar’s D-Type competition model had come to an end, but of a total of 71 cars built since 1954, 16 remained unsold. In an effort to find a different market for its increasingly obsolete inventory, the factory decided to convert each remaining competition car into a luxury, road-going version. The traditional finned headrest was removed from its aluminum body; a full-width, metal-framed windshield with side screens, windshield wipers, bumpers and a trunk-mounted luggage rack were added. In the cockpit the gauges were spread out across the dashboard, unlike the competition model where they were concentrated. Upholstery was first class and to protect its wealthy owner from the elements a canvas folding top was added. The luxury model was named the XK-SS and each of the converted XK-Ds received a different chassis number, starting with a 7 to reflect the year of conversion: 1957.
Mechanically the XK-SS remained similar to the production (read: customer) version of D-Type: a 3.4-liter, straight-6 engine with double overhead camshafts fed by three 45 DCM Webers. Output was 250 bhp and top speed 150 mph. The new model came with the D-Type’s effective disc brakes and knock-off alloy competition wheels made by Dunlop.
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