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Jaguar XK-SS Gathering at Pebble Beach - Click above for high-res image gallery

Okay, full disclosure – We have to tell you that we have a conflict of interest on this one. The Jaguar XK-SS is one of this author's top ten sports car designs of all time. This partially-civilized, D-Type-derived, semi-comp car is just plain awesome. Seeing one of them at a museum or event is like glimpsing the Pietà as you enter the Vatican – Its beauty can overwhelm you if you're not prepared to see it. Imagine our delight, then, when we learned that the organizers of the 2010 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance had put together a small gathering of XK-SS roadsters to celebrate Jaguar's 75th birthday. It's their birthday, and we get the presents.

Just 25 of these incredible machines were built during their short run – a tragic fire at the factory took nine of them and halted development of not just the XK-SS, but of the D-Type as a whole. Try as they might, the Pebble Beach folks simply couldn't get all 16 of the survivors together for this occasion...but how does a full dozen sound? Any event that has one SS in the field is pretty remarkable in our books. Having more than one is almost unheard of. Having a dozen on hand, all in one place at one time... in an almost perfect line on the Pebble Beach golf links with nothing behind them but the course and bay? Sublime.

Why does the XK-SS draw such admiration? Well, all you need do is look at it and you have your answer, but there is much more to the story. When Jaguar withdrew from racing at the end of 1955, they had a few spare D-Type chassis on hand. They also had something of a budget crisis at the time. Why not make a few changes for road use and offer the unfinished cars to the public? Jaguar added an extra seat, another door, a full-width windshield, luggage rack and folding top and the SS was born. It weighed but 2,000 pounds and had the D-Type's 250-horsepower 3.4-liter straight-six under its shapely bonnet. It only weighed about 100 pounds more than the full-on racer and was sold at a 30 percent discount over the D.

Doesn't that strike you as something of a bargain for a wild, hairy beast for the street? Steve McQueen thought so. In fact, the legendary actor and racer owned the same example twice. After buying one new, he had the interior customized by artist Von Dutch. He later sold the car but missed it so much that he bought it back a few years later. He had the car in his collection until the day he died. It's now in the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, but was in Pebble Beach for the Concours on Sunday...along with eleven of its friends. Check out our stunning gallery of high-res images below.



Photos Copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips, Frank Filipponio / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      morgan plus four
      • 4 Years Ago
      If only they would see that simplicity gives timeless beauty. The concept for the next X sports car is a busy jumble of current design cliches and looks dated - and hasn't come out yet!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Gorgeous cars undoubtedly, but to me they always had a face that seemed like a cute puffer fish wearing wire frame round glasses. Awesome to see so many lined up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      See that red one at the front. The last time I saw it was at the 2005 Colorado Grand, and it had a parking lot ding on the nose. I wrote a funny story about it.

      I've had the privilege of being around a few XKSS quite a bit, and have ridden in one once. They are truly amazing machines. They sound wonderful, and look ... well words can not express how good they look while underway at speed.

      Kudos to the organizers at Pebble to make this moment happen!

      • 4 Years Ago
      I would like to know why the other 4 owners chose not to show up. The worlds most prostegious car show calls you up and says - We want to show your 7 figure car. We are trying to get all 16 there, and have 12 signed up. Are you interested? They really should have their cars taken away.
      Tony Brown
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just 25 were made? Not on your life! 16 were made before the fire in February 1957 and then two D-types were converted to XKSS format but two XKSS were returned to D-type format. Yesw, Jaguar had some spare short nose shells (this was a monocoque design remember) and they were created as an XKSS purely because the D-type, although a road car as well as a race car in Europe, was considered purely a race car in the USA, hence the idea of creating a series which could race under SCCA rules. Fifity were planned but the fire halted this at 16.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The XKSS is one of those cars that makes your pants fit funny.
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL @ Alex...made me laugh. I can't get this car to make my pants fit funny. It aint no GT40...but then that's where my love lies. So I can understand how the author must feel if he saw 12 of his favorite cars at one time. Schwiiing!! Hope he was wearing dark pants.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Too bad we didn't get to see at least one interior and/or engine bay shot among the gallery photos.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wasn't even aware these existed, what a stunningly beautiful vehicle. No doubt one of the most attractive cars of all time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow. That's a truly breathtaking arrangement of automotive art. That is indeed one of the most beautiful sports cars of all time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A: The proper color for a British car is dark Racing Green. None of these are truly representative of the hallowed tradition. They're also gorgeous, a rarity in British vehicles.
      B: Notice the mismatched tail lights on the grey car. The right one appears to be from an MG-A.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wonder how many SS' were produced in BRG. I have seen one in the Ecurie Ecosse blue, but - since they were road cars not racing cars, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were NOT made in British Racing Green!

        Ecure Ecosse - http://www.ecurieecosse.com/
        • 4 Years Ago
        A) Most probably are BRG. The typical Jag version of the time was very, very dark, plus the photos are dark.

        B) All of the other cars' taillights look the same - they're quite assymetric. It's simply the angle the photograph was taken.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Smarty pants.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Here is the data, from http://www.coventryracers.com :

        VIN: Engine#: Factory Color:
        XKSS701 E2060-9 British Racing Green
        XKSS704 E2072-9 Cream
        XKSS707 E2066-9 Cream
        XKSS710 E2073-9 British Racing Green
        XKSS713 E2076-9 Cream
        XKSS716 E2080-9 British Racing Green
        XKSS719 E2082-9 White
        XKSS722 E2045-9 Carmen Red
        XKSS725 E2077-9 Cream
        XKSS728 E2051-9 British Racing Green
        XKSS754 E2054-9 Cotswold Blue
        XKSS757 E2071-9 Cream
        XKSS760 E2074-9 Cream
        XKSS763 E2068-9 Carmen Red
        XKSS766 E2067-9 Mist Grey
        XKSS769 E2062-9 British Racing Green

        So 6 were Cream, 5 were BRG, 2 Carmen Red, 1 White, and 1 Cotswold Blue.
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