1937 SS 100 Jaguar 2½-Litre Roadster
Amelia Island - A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
- Formerly owned by noted Jaguar enthusiast James Dale
- High-quality enthusiast restoration
- Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic
- Ideal for numerous tours and rallies worldwide
BIRTH OF THE SS 100
The mighty Jaguar had its start as a simple Swallow—such are the ironic annals of motoring history.
William Lyons and William Walmsley began manufacturing motorcycle sidecars in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1922. By 1927, their Swallow Coachbuilding Company was turning out attractive little bodies on Austin, Morris, Fiat, and Standard chassis. After a move to Coventry, they came out with the first of several generations of “SS” cars (for Swallow Sidecar), the SS1 of 1931. Based on the 16-horsepower Standard, it had an underslung chassis, a long bonnet, and streamlined coachwork.
A companion model, the SS2, was based on the Standard 9. Saloons, dropheads, and tourers were offered by 1934, and a particularly attractive “Airline” fastback coupe developed a devoted following. That year, the company was re-named S.S. Cars Ltd.
The Jaguar name, the choice of Lyons himself, who split with Walmsley in 1934, was first used on a handsome sports saloon introduced at the autumn 1935 Olympia Motor Show. This car had a 2,663-cubic centimeter overhead-valve version of the Standard engine, somewhat redesigned by Harry Weslake and William Heynes. Good for 90 mph, it was christened SS 90 and was a relative bargain at £385. The greater fame, however, was accrued by the short-chassis SS 100 Jaguar Roadster. The wheelbase was shortened to 104 inches, and as the name implies, 100 mph was on its horizon, particularly after the engine was enlarged to 3,485 cubic centimeters. With twin SU carburetors, it made 125 brake horsepower, and the four-speed gearbox had synchromesh on the top three gears. At 2,600 pounds, it had plenty of energy, and many owners chose to compete in them.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing cars of its time, the SS 100 is also among the rarest, with 198 of the 2½-Litre examples built. From the beginning, they were exclusive, a characteristic that has only increased with age. Among the prominent personalities who have owned them are the late Alan Clark, British Member of Parliament, and Dave Garroway, founding host and anchor of NBC television’s long-running Today.
CHASSIS NUMBER 18124
The SS 100 offered here was one of only 94 cars produced in 1937, and according to the Classic Jaguar Association’s SS 100 Register, was originally delivered by the famous downtown London distributors Henlys on 30 January 1937, finished in black with an olive interior. Subsequent owners were, from 1978 to 1998, Tom Gooding of Minetto, New York, then, from 1998 until Mr. Smith’s acquisition, the well-known enthusiast James Dale, of Canada and Florida. Mr. Dale received the car in trade from Jaguar expert Terry Larson, in exchange for the missing parts to an original C-Type!
Mr. Dale restored the car to original condition, with the exception of a change in colors to the present livery, red with a black interior and tonneau cover. At some point the car received a correct replacement 2½-Litre engine; this engine, still present today, is number 250798. The car remains in very solid and thoroughly presentable condition, showing only minimal instances of wear; the interior is lightly stretched and the paint exhibits minor chips and cracking in the usual stress areas. Mesh stone guards are fitted to the headlamps and radiator. At the time of cataloguing, the odometer recorded just 87 miles since completion of the restoration. A new fuel tank was installed in 2015.
The SS is offered with a Mark V handbook, a correct instruction book for the model, its original cowl numbers tag (loose; a faithful reproduction is mounted to the car), and a small collection of information and ownership documentation from over the years. It is a lovely example ready for continued use and enjoyment, for many years to come.
Please note that this car is fitted with an MG transmission for ease of driving enjoyment.