XKSS Jaguar owned by Steve McQueen (Type-D)

As a young car guy growing up in rural Iowa, exotic cars were not common. A Corvette was exotic at that time! Real exotic cars existed only in magazines. However, one particular plastic model rocked my world. It was a Type-D Jaguar race car. I absolutely fell in love with that car. It left a lasting impression on me for decades even though I had never seen the real deal in person. Finally, in my “senior” years I stumbled onto the ultimate Jaguar XKSS street version of the Type-D at the Peterson Museum in LA. Not only was it authentic, it was once owned by Steve McQueen!

XKSS Jaguar

The XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type built from 1954-1956. In 1957, nine XKSS cars due to be exported to the US were destroyed in a fire at Jaguar’s factory at Browns Lane in Coventry, meaning that only 16 of the planned run of 25 examples were sold.

I can only imagine the care that had to be taken to fill the gas tank with the filler directly behind the driver’s seat and in front of the convertible top boot. Did the top need to be lowered to fill the tank?

I still think these are the best side pipes ever done on a car.

The car shown here is one of the original 16. It was first owned by James Edward Peterson the designer of the historic Riverside Raceway. It was then purchased by Bill Leyden a very well known TV celebrity and game show host of the day. The third owner, Steve McQueen, is by far the most famous and once even appeared on one of Leyden’s shows.

The XKSS had a top speed of 149 mph making it one of the fastest cars of its day. The engine was a 250 HP Jaguar. With an original price of $6,900 in 1957 dollars. That would be equal to approximately $58,000 in 2018 dollars. Considering the rareness and super car reality of the XKSS that would be a very reasonable price today.

Steve McQueen Modifications

The car as seen in these photos are as Steve McQueen modified it to meet his taste. He had the car repainted in the Type-D British Racing Green. The Dunlap wheels were polished and the interior redone in black.

Seeing this car in person was not disappointing. It remains a classic design and modern looking even after more than 60 years.

Filed Under: FeaturedMuseumsVintage Racing

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About the Author: I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check our our www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com page) As long as it has four wheels on it I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife Katriana is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out with our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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