Jaguar SS 100

Stunningly beautiful; that was the reaction when the SS Jaguar 100 was introduced in London in 1935. Today, the SS100, of which only 314 were built, is one of the world’s most sought after classics, confirmation that really good looks will easily withstand the test of time. William Lyons was only 20 when, in Blackpool, he entered into partnership with William Walmsley, a 29-year-old builder of motorcycle sidecars. Lyons redesigned the sidecars to feature attractive torpedo-like styling and the Swallow Sidecar Company grew quickly. In 1928, they moved to Coventry, and in 1931, they produced their first car, badged as an SS. Long and low, the SS1, using a modified chassis from Standard Motor Company, bore the unmistakable stamp of Lyons’ artistry. Subsequent models led to the two-seater SS90, powered by a 2.5-litre six-cylinder side-valve engine from Standard. Walmsley resigned from the company in 1934 and Lyons assumed sole control. Soon after that he rebranded his cars as SS Jaguars. And then, late in 1935, he unveiled the breath-taking SS Jaguar 100.

Lyons, later Sir William, orchestrated the SS100 styling, but credit is also due to two engineers who were closely involved in the car’s development and who would become legends in Jaguar history. William Heynes adapted an existing SS Jaguar saloon chassis to SS100 use, one with much bigger brakes. He also modified the bottom end of the six-cylinder Standard engine as part of its conversion from side-valve to overhead valve. Harry Weslake was hired to handle the critical design of the cylinder head. The result was the 2,663-cubic centimetre engine that developed 102 brake-horsepower, with which the SS100 was launched. Two years later, a 3,485-cubic centimetre version with an increased bore and stroke and providing 125 brake-horsepower became optional.

Part of the RM Auctions event in London, October, 2012.

102 bhp, 2,663 cc overhead valve inline six-cylinder engine, twin SU carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, beam front axle, live rear axle, front and rear semi-elliptic spring suspension, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104 in.

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Tim Scott

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