1938 Jaguar SS100 2½-Litre Roadster

Registration Number EUL 923   Chassis Number 49028

Previous long-term ownership (1938-2000)   Four owners from new

Formerly Owned by The Chairman of Jaguar Cars

Amazing Documented History 

Launched for 1936, the SS100 was the first real high-performance model produced by SS Cars Limited and used a new Weslake-developed overhead-valve engine in a shortened SS1 chassis. The introduction of the ohv unit was considered to justify the adoption of a new name for the series, SS Cars boss William Lyons later recalling 'I immediately pounced on Jaguar as it had an exciting sound to me.' ('Jaguar' would be adopted as the marque name in 1943, 'SS' having by then acquired a somewhat tarnished reputation.) 

'SS' originally stood for the Swallow Sidecar & Coachbuilding Company, which had been founded in Blackpool, England by William Walmsley. The company branched out into motor manufacture in 1926, its first major success being an attractive sports saloon on the Austin Seven chassis, the design being the work of Walmsley's partner, one William Lyons. Relocation to Coventry followed and the Swallow range expanded to include models on Morris Cowley, Wolseley Hornet and Standard Sixteen chassis. Marque status arrived in October 1931 with the launch of the SS1, the chassis of which was supplied exclusively to Swallow by Standard, who also provided the six-cylinder sidevalve engine and four-speed gearbox. Although unspectacular in performance, the SS1 went some way towards establishing the pattern for future Jaguars, combining sporting good looks with a better-than-average specification and all at a bargain price. 

Although a fine touring car, the SS 100 was marketed as primarily for competition work. Its first major success came early, if somewhat unexpectedly, when Tommy Wisdom, crewed by his wife, won the arduous International Alpine Trial in 1936, beating Bugatti and bringing the fledgling marque to the attention of the Continental public. This would be the first of many successful rallying forays, including class wins in the RAC events of 1937 and 1938, and the Alpine (outright) again in 1948. Around 198 2½-Litre and 116 of the later 3½-Litre cars had been made by the time SS 100 production was prematurely ended by the outbreak of war.

Chassis number '48028' was supplied new in 1938 via Henlys, London to its first owner, Mr N Brown. Within twelve months Brown had sold the SS100 to one William Whitfield, who, remarkably, would own the car until 2000, a period of 62 years. The relevant sales invoice, framed and glazed, is included in the sale. 

While in Whitfield's ownership the Jaguar was fastidiously maintained, and from 1969 onwards remained garaged until he decided to have it restored in 1985. By that time the original engine had been removed and replaced with another period-correct 2½-litre unit. The comprehensive rebuild was carried out by specialist restorer, Rob Pollock of Downton Engineering, Bournemouth, as detailed in an accompanying six-page report. The work was completed in 1989 and for the succeeding decade or so the SS saw relatively little use. 

Some years later, press coverage of this SS100's remarkable story brought it to the attention of Jaguar's former chairman, Sir Nicholas Scheele. Purchased by Sir Nicholas in 2000, the car was despatched to respected marque specialists, Davenport Cars to be fully sorted. Davenport Cars continued to maintain the SS100 apart from during its brief sojourn with the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust while its owner was working for Ford in Detroit.

Supporting the car's provenance, accompanying documentation includes various press cuttings and photographs, a Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Certificate, a quantity of expired MOTs, service receipts accumulated by both Whitfield and Scheele and V5C documents in their names, while the original owner's handbook is available also. The current (fourth) owner purchased 'EUL 923' at a UK auction in October 2013, since when it has been maintained by Racing Green Cars of Hampshire (see bills for circa £15,000 on file). 

Finished in its original Gunmetal Grey with red-piped black leather upholstery and red carpets, this remarkable SS100 - with its history of long-term ownership and subsequent association with a senior Jaguar executive - would grace any collection of fine Jaguar motor cars. 

The SS100 was one of the fastest and best-handling sports cars of its day, as its competition record both before and after the war bears witness to. Representing a rare opportunity to acquire an exceptional example of the model that can be said to have started the Jaguar legend, '49028' is eligible for a wide variety of the most prestigious historic motor sport events


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