In 1936, only five years after beginning production, SS Cars startled the motoring public with the Jaguar 2.5-liter saloon, the company’s first car to feature overhead valves. The engine was the robust seven-bearing, six-cylinder unit built by Standard, but with a new cylinder head designed by Harry Weslake and Bill Heynes. With 104 bhp, smoothly delivered, flowing lines, a gearbox which made the best of the power, and a new chassis, it was the model which made the company’s reputation. Jaguar was then only a model name, but it was adopted as the company’s name after “SS” had acquired unfortunate connotations during the war.
If the Jaguar saloon epitomized excitement, it was as nothing compared to the Jaguar SS 100. No sports car better epitomizes the late 1930s, which is why it has been the model for so many modern “nostalgia” cars. It looked right from every angle and age has not withered its beauty.
Every aspect was in harmony. Stone guards over the large headlights, the long louvered bonnet and large wire wheels were aggressive, yet the flowing lines were silkily feline. It has the grace of a prowling cat. At Brooklands in 1936 a tuned and lightened version lapped at 104.1 mph, but normally owners tended not to race them. Instead they appeared in the rallies, trials and sprints which formed the bulk of British motorsport and they were successful because of their superb power-to-weight ratio, gearbox, brakes and handling. They were great all-rounders.
Chassis number 39030 was originally dispatched to Glovers, the early SS Jaguar dealers for Ripon on January 13, 1938. The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, who have issued a Heritage Certificate for the car, record that it was originally delivered finished in lavender with blue trim. Purchased from Coys of Kensington in 1975, this beautiful example subsequently spent twenty years with a French enthusiast, before returning to home shores in the late 1990s. During its spell in France it underwent a comprehensive restoration by specialists Le Coq, in which the chassis and fittings were meticulously overhauled. The car comes with its original 3.5-liter engine and gearbox, although it is currently fitted with a competition power unit and uprated gearbox. These items were assembled in the vendor’s own workshops, specifically for competitive motoring and detail work included gas flowing of the cylinder head, the fitment of bronze liners to guides and conversion to use unleaded fuel. Further work was subsequently carried out to the suspension and shock absorbers as well as the gearbox by SS Jaguar specialists TRAC at a cost of over $6,400. Much attention was paid to detail, so that components such as the body tub and petrol tank were carefully and discreetly flexibly mounted to avoid damage on the arduous road rallies in which 39030 has become a competitor.
The car, now immaculately finished in traditional British Racing Green, with contrasting black hide, has recently contested such popular and competitive international rallies as the acclaimed Liege-Rome-Liege road rally. Despite this it remains in the most magnificent condition throughout and complete with FIVA identity card, UK registration and MO26T certificate is ready to be entered for any similar international events to be held in this season’s calendar of historic motorsports.