Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Jaguar XKSS

The Jaguar XKSS was a road-going version of the 1954/55 Jaguar D-type created by modifying the chassis of the D-types which remained unsold when Jaguar withdrew from racing after the 1955 season. You can read the story of the XKSS here. The car shown above was photographed at the Coys International Historic Festival meeting at Silverstone in July 1995. The featured marque at that meeting was Aston Martin, with a special tribute to Carroll Shelby who shared the winning drive in an Aston Martin DBR1 at the 1959 Le Mans 24 Houir race with Roy Salvadori. The lettering above the number plate of the above car reads:
'Supporting the Shelby Transplant Trust
Innes Ireland Memorial Rally'
I can't find any reference to this car in the programme of the meeting, nor on the internet, but I've come across a forum on the website which says this (and incidentally infers that the car in the above photograph is actually a replica):

'Beachcomber’s Tales from the Day – October 2012.
“Carroll Shelby – The Innes Ireland Memorial Rally”
Several people have contacted me over my connections with Carroll Shelby – so here’s a brief backgrounder as a prelude to the main story.
In 1978 I visited my old pal [and partner in the UK based “Americar” speed shop] Keith Harvie, who had moved to the US to set up Performance Automotive Wharehouse [PAW].
I spent some time with Keith – including visiting his neighbours on the trading estate in Tarzana – including one Don Prudhomme!
Keith was busy building an Arntz Cobra complete with genuine 427 side oiler and all the good bits. I felt there was a good market for such a replica in the UK and we spoke with Steve Arntz to try to set up a deal for 2 cars. He refused to supply outside the Continental USA – so Keith bought the 2 kits for me [!!] and shipped them to England where I’d just set up my speed shop “Muscle City”.
The “chassis” was an abysmal mess, the body wasn’t much better. So we completely revamped the body and I designed a chassis taking Jaguar suspension. That was my introduction to Cobra replicas – there then followed 25+ years of involvement developing, manufacturing and selling. Along the way I developed a friendship with my pal Adrian Cocking from Realm Engineering [RAM] – who at that time made the fiberglass bodies for me. I continued to liaise with and design for AC over the years, so when Shelby American contacted Adrian to discuss a sole UK approval for Cobra replicas – I was called in to head the negotiations. Long story short – the approval was granted [unique outside the US] and I became very friendly with Shelby and ended up assisting in the setting up of his European Transplant Trust – handling organ transplants for underprivileged people. I was designated as the European Liaison Officer.
It was under this guise that I organized the vehicles for the celebrities to drive during the memorial festival for Innes Ireland. Innes was a truly talented driver who like many succumbed at a far too young age to cancer. This was at a time when the drivers were not so full of their own importance and counted each other [in the main] as comrades as well as competitors.
I arranged for a display at the National Racing Car show to showcase the Transplant Trust and it was during this time that all Shelby’s car racing buddies got together to honour Inness Ireland with a huge cavalcade, culminating at Silverstone Race track.
I arranged cars [replicas !] for Carroll [Cobra of course], Sir Jack Brabham [D Type], Richard Noble MBE – former world speed record holder [XKSS], D Type for John Surtees MBE and various D’s and Cobras for other dignatories including the Lord Mayor of Birmingham.
After a Black tie dinner the preceeding night – the public in their classic cars – all 2000+ of them - congregated in the car parks of the National Exhibition Centre. The first stop over was the Jaguar Works in Coventry, where a lavish lunch had been put on by Jaguar for the dignatories. When the cavalcade started out it was emphasized that this was taking place on public roads and that the national speed limits should be observed …......
Well that lasted for all of 5 miles until Shelby overtook Sir Stirling Moss and gave him the finger! Later the police reported a convoy of “fast moving cars” travelling on the motorway at speeds in excess of 140 mph!! No action was taken and the whole trip turned into a bit of a tear up.
I was travelling in my Cobra with the BBC television cameraman [lady actually] to record as much as possible. 
It was a pure delight to see Shelby totally at ease with his racing mates, even my intrusion with the camera and interviews was not an imposition as I was considered a friend.
It was a revelation to hear stories that at the time could not possibly have been published. Like the time a certain driver at Le Mans put the Ford GT into the sandbank at Mulsanne corner rather than drive it as in his words it was “Bloody lethal”. Or when describing his championship winning Aston [with Roy Salvadori as co-driver] as “basically, a sack of shit”. Or when Carroll was asked about Enzo – “a man who needed a size 12 up his ass”.
All the celebs and dignatories gave up a considerable amount of time – some travelling 1000’s of miles to be there. The rally raised over £50K that was split with specific Cancer Charities, and apart from the evening soiree – the celebs received not a penny. 
Apparently Innes Ireland was a definite hooligan – in a nice way. A rebel rouser and one to party.
Carroll told us of the time after the Spa race, when Innes decided he wanted to see the view from the top of the local church. Having had a few drinks [after the race] he was refused entry to the church …….Carroll and the boys bet him he wouldn’t be able to get to see the view as the priest was adamant at not letting the drunken revellers into the church. So Innes proceeded to climb up the outside of steeple! He did make it to the top, but didn’t make it down again before the priest had called the local gendarmerie. When they arrived -  lucky for the boys they were race enthusiasts – Carroll arranged for all present to autograph copies of the race programmes and forget about Innes’ little escapade.
When the cars eventually arrived at Silverstone they were all lined up around the circuit – with Carroll with Moss riding shotgun in the lead Cobra. The cars stretched 3/4s of the way round the circuit and were 4 abreast. The Cavalcade then took 3 tours of the circuit before parking up for the speeches from the various celebs. The whole event was filmed by a bunch of friends from a local Film and lighting hire company, who with the management’s blessings took out several exceedingly valuable cameras, sound and lighting equipment – not to mention two company support vans and a specially adapted motorcycle film platform! 
It would be hard to imagine today’s crop of F1 superstars all coming together for such an event for one of their number.'

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