People often lament how modern recreations of vintage cars lack the charm and retro appeal of the originals. New Mini Coopers are frequently criticised as being ‘too big’, modern Volkswagen Beetles ‘too sleek’ and Land Rovers increasingly obsessed with luxury over functionality.
The truth is that today’s safety standards, emissions policies and rigorous crash testing have rendered straight recreations of past cars all but pointless. Technically, companies could of course fabricate the motors of yesterday – but there would be little reason, the vehicles wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a public road.
Jaguar know this, but it would appear that they don’t care. The first ‘new-old’ Jaguar XKSS D-Type, one of only nine to be produced, went on show at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week – and it is built to the exact specifications as those that rolled off the production line in 1957.
Initially designed by the British company as a road-going version of the Le Mans racer, the D-Type, only 25 were made in the first place – with nine of those destroyed in a fire at the Coventry Browns Lane factory.
But the car made an impression. Famous owners included legendary actor Steven McQueen and now, 69 years later, the ‘lost’ nine are to be reproduced for a handful of prospective – and wealthy – new owners.
Priced at £1 million a piece, all nine of the new cars have already sold. Jaguar were present at the LA Auto Show, then, not to sell, but to convey how the cars were built using the original drawings and even some period production techniques.
A 258bhp, 3.4 litre straight six sits under the bonnet, with a new cast iron block, new cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors. With a four speed gearbox and perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges and instruments, the wood, leather and brass used throughout the car is identical to the 1957 machine.
Only the metals have been changed – with an eye to keeping rust and erosion at bay. The fuel tank, for instance, has seen an update in materials. But, other than these changes, the cars are intended to replace exactly the nine lost in the fire – with even the chassis numbers the same as those that were destroyed.
One for the true nostalgics, this is style over practicality at its finest – and we couldn’t love it any more.