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Lot 069: Jaguar 1.5-Litre Saloon

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (13 July 2011)

William Lyons started his career with a small factory in Blackpool making Swallow Sidecars, shortly followed by a coachbuilt version of the Austin Seven, the Austin Swallow. In 1928 a new site was acquired in Coventry and production grew. The first complete car was the SS 1.5-litre Saloon. This used a 1,609cc side valve engine supplied by nearby Standard Motors. This was soon complimented by 2.5 and 3.5-litre models and, of course, the staggeringly beautiful SS100. The engine on the entry model was soon enlarged to a 65bhp 1,776cc unit and from 1938 the bodies were made entirely of steel, doing away with the earlier ash frame construction.

The performance of the 1.5-litre was not its strongest suit, however 70mph was attainable and road tests of the day praised the car for its sweet running and its ability to cover ground efficiently. It certainly looked good, too, and was soon dubbed the 'Wardour Street Bentley' thanks to its aristocratic style at a bargain price which appealed to the more raffish elements of the contemporary Soho set.

After the war the company name was changed from SS to Jaguar Cars Ltd. (for obvious political reasons) and production continued with the old pre-war model range. The term Jaguar MkIV was introduced retrospectively to differentiate the model from the MkV which gained independent front suspension. In all, some 10,980 1.5-litre SS and Jaguar cars were produced between 1935 and 1949 although survivors are now rare and seldom seen.

This particular 1.5-litre Saloon was registered in October 1947 and was first owned by a Mr Edgar Frederick Cooper of Half Acres, Bishop's Stortford. Chairman of the local magistrates and a distinguished local figure, he was to keep the car up until his death in 1958 when ownership passed to his son, Arthur Cooper. According to documents on file, Arthur had a collision in the car which dented the offside and the roof. It also dented his confidence and after getting it repaired he decided to give up driving and put the car into storage until 1965 when it was acquired by another Bishop's Stortford resident, Mr Norman Francis Furneaux. He was to keep the car for the next 16 years until it was acquired by another local, Mr John Ivens in August 1981.

By this time the car had been in storage for at least a decade and Mr Ivens decided to treat it to a sympathetic restoration which resulted in the lovely specimen you see today. It is not clear how much work was involved in the restoration but it can't have been too much because the car remains in largely original condition throughout with a particularly fine and characterful interior which abounds in lovely details like the chrome seat adjusters, wind-out quarter lights and rear window blind. Even the original and extensive tool kit is all present and correct in the felt-lined boot lid compartment.

Although the paintwork has lost some of its lustre over the ensuing three decades, the chromework remains in lovely condition and the bodywork is exceptionally sound with doors that fit and operate beautifully. The car is said to drive very well indeed and certainly fired up promptly and ran very sweetly on the occasion of our visit to take these pictures.

It comes with many old tax discs and MOT certificates back to 1970 which indicate that it has only covered some 7,200 miles since then. It also retains some wonderful original documentation including the factory hand-over card from Jaguar to the supplying dealer, Moores of Bishop's Stortford, which lists all the tools in the tool kit; the Jaguar guarantee card; the lubrication chart; the 'Tyres and your Jaguar' booklet; the 'Air conditioning and defrosting' instructions; the original 'Instruction Book' and maintenance chart; the service voucher book; a factory service manual and a copy of a spare parts catalogue.

Mr Ivens appears to have kept the car until 1998 and it has had just two other keepers since, the current vendor having owned it for the last five years. Due to have a fresh MOT before the sale, this is a truly lovely old car with a known history from new and the kind of patina that only comes from decades of sparing and careful use. The icing on the cake is the original and transferable number plate, JAR 888, which we are reliably informed is the luckiest number in Chinese numerology!

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number069
Estimate£20000-£25000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£17000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1947
Condition rating0
Registration numberJAR 888
Mileage-
Chassis number413539
Engine numberKB4647
Engine capacity (cc)1776
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors