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Lot 217: Jaguar SS100 2.5 Litre

Techno Classica, Coys (2 April 2011)

The early 1930s was not the best time to launch a new car company; famous makers were collapsing all around as the Depression took hold, but William Lyons was a shrewd judge of human nature. He knew he could succeed if he gave the motoring public what it wanted and he had a fair idea what that was. He took the view that it was no more expensive to make a beautiful car than it was to make an ugly one and his company, Swallow Sidecars, already had an enviable reputation for making very pretty bodies on fairly modest proprietary chassis.

In 1936, only five years after beginning production, SS startled the motoring public with the Jaguar 2� litre 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 104bhp smoothly delivered, in a very handsome body with 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. It was the first of Lyons' creations to carry the designation 'Jaguar', though then only as a model name.

If the Jaguar saloon created excitement, it was as nothing compared to the SS 100 Sports. No open car better epitomises 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 reflected the sporting 'breed points' of the era - stone guards over the huge headlights, the long louvered bonnet, and large wire wheels were aggressive, yet the flowing lines had the grace of a prowling cat.

At Brooklands in 1936 a tuned and lightened version lapped at 104.1mph, but most owners tended not to race them. They regularly competed in the rallies, trials and sprints at the heart of British motor sport and they were successful because of their superb power to weight ratio, gearbox, brakes and handling; they were great all-rounders. In total only 198 2 � litre SS100s were made  it would not be the last time that Jaguar built a sports car to create excitement around the rest of its model range.

The SS100 on offer today was delivered new in 1937 to a Colonel W. V. Nugent. It was later exported to America where it was comprehensively restored during the 1980s and remained in the sunny Californian climate until 1988 when it was re-imported by classic car dealer Gerry Porter. Upon re-importation the car was purchased for a private family collection where it remained for over twenty years. During the family's ownership 18083 was lovingly cosseted in the family's private museum and meticulously maintained by their in-house engineer.

Although the Jaguar was in exceptional condition, the fastidious owner undertook a thorough recommissioning of the bodywork and mechanics including a comprehensive engine rebuild by marque specialist David Davenport, completed 2010; this wonderful SS100 runs beautifully and has covered only 445 miles since.

The lustrous Jaguar Opalescent Gunmetal Grey paintwork complements the burgundy leather interior beautifully. The gleaming brightwork adorning the svelte body, retaining its original Lucas QK headlights and Owl's Eye rear lights, is also in excellent condition.

This is an extraordinarily well-presented example of an exceptionally desirable model, with its combination of effortless elegance and excellent road manners and is truly an iconic British sports car. That the SS100 is so instantly recognisable is remarkable considering the rarity of the model, this being one of only 198 produced, and is testament to the perfect proportions and elegance of the bodywork

Lot Details
Auction Techno Classica
Coys, Essen, Germany
Lot Number217
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)€221800
Condition rating1
Registration number
Chassis number18083
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors