When the young William Lyons introduced his devastatingly handsome SS Jaguar 100 sports two-seater in the fall of 1935, it was viewed with some skepticism by the rather conservative English sporting motorists of the day. Rakishly low, with 90 mph plus readily available and acceleration to match, it was well-equipped and finished, yet cost a mere ₤398. Surely there was a catch somewhere? Time has shown there was indeed no catch. With its long, many-louvered hood, its open cockpit with cutaway sides and its arching fenders, the SS Jaguar 100 symbolizes traditional 1930’s sports car design, just as its brilliant successors, the Jaguar XK 120 roadster and the Jaguar E-Type coupe, represent the 1940s and 1960s.
William Lyons’ master stroke was to make use of existing well-tried components from the multitude of makers surrounding him in Coventry. Steering gear, axles, gearboxes, instruments, even the chassis frame and more, all were “brought in” from the English industry’s most reputable companies. The long-lived and powerful overhead valve engine was evolved by the famed Harry Weslake from a Standard Motor Company unit used in previous SS Jaguar models. Even the striking aluminum fenders were supplied in batches by a specialist, although it must be conceded that each SS Jaguar 100 body was skillfully hand crafted using traditional methods. Brought together by Lyons’ young team of gifted engineers, the result was a responsive high-performance car with excellent steering, brakes and gearbox. There was a limited market in Britain in the late 1930s for such a car even at Lyons’ relatively low price. In the few seasons before the war put an end to production only 190 were sold, plus 118 of the 3.5-liter version introduced in 1937, although that is a total most of his competitors would have regarded as very satisfactory.
SN 18031 is the last SS built in 1936 and the 31st produced. It has a documented list of owners since 1946. In the early 1980s, SN 18031 was completely disassembled for restoration. It was sold in pieces to the current owner in 1983 who undertook an exhaustive restoration. He spent hundreds of hours taking notes, carefully examining old photos and seeking the advice of Jaguar experts from as far away as England to South Africa. All the bodywork, painting, chassis, mechanical and assembly was lovingly carried out by the owner, and the car has all matching numbers to prove it. Whenever original items were missing, such as the top, an original pattern was located to copy exactly.