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Jaguar SS100: Buying guide and review (1936-1940)

Jaguar SS100 Jaguar SS100
Jaguar Cars was born out of the Swallow Sidecar Company Ltd, which became SS Cars Ltd in 1934 when Sir William Lyons bought out his founding partner William Walmsley. The first cars to wear the ‘Jaguar’ badge were the 1.5- and 2-litre Jaguar saloons, launched in 1936 – and the SS Jaguar 100.
 
The first Jaguar sports car, it was William Lyons’ rakish and flamboyant masterpiece, its ‘100’ nomenclature indicative that the 3.5-litre version could reach 100mph – which was a big deal in the late 1930s. It made for a lasting legacy to live up to.
 
The Standard Motor Company supplied Lyons with 2.5- and 3.5-litre six-cylinder engines. These were enlivened with the help of leading engineers Harry Weslake and William Heynes, who designed efficient cylinder heads that enabled 100bhp in 2.5-litre guise and a heady 125bhp with the 3.5-litre. Over 100mph all day!
 
Only 198 of the 2.5-litre and 116 3.5-litres were ever constructed, making these sports cars extremely rare Jaguars, hence their strong values today. And their superb styling means that any SS100 is always welcome at the most prestigious auctions and events around the world.
 
Yet the SS100 was a proper competition car as well, winning the 1936 International Alpine Trial driven by Tommy Wisdom and then the 1937 RAC Rally driven by Jack Harrop. In 1948 Ian Appleyard crowned it with a Coupe des Alps on the tough Alpine Trial.
 

Which SS100 to buy?

 
Survival rates are low and prices have been rising steadily. Most of these cars will have seen a nut and bolt restoration and are generally in excellent condition and kept in collections. Modifications during the four-year production run were limited to minor mechanical changes, except for the increase in capacity to 3.5-litres in 1938. 
 
Such is the popularity and limited supply of these British classics, a number of companies have created replicas. The Birchfield motor company produced around 20 Birchfield Sports in the 1980s using XJ6 running gear. It was a complex design and not very successful commercially, however they do look the part and are cheaper to buy and maintain than the original. 
 
The Steadman TS100 is not really a replica, more of a car built in the spirit of the original. Its dimensions and running gear are very different and there is a separate enthusiasts club catering for the handful of cars that were produced in the ‘80s and ‘90s. 
 
If you’re after a more accurate reproduction, then take a look at the Australian based Finch Motor Company’s SS-100. Chassis are based on Mk4 and SS saloons, while original Jaguar parts are used when available, making these one of the most accurate reproductions available. 
 
Closer to home Suffolk Sportscars still manufactures a handful of SS100 replicas every year. Based around Jaguar XK6 engines with GRP bodies, these are the ones you are most likely to come across if you expand your search to include replicas. There are many more replicas and conversions around, stick to ones that have been built by reputable firms and bear in mind that you get what you pay for. 
 
Original SS100s seem to fall into one of two categories, they are either well loved one or two owner cars with mostly traceable histories, or are ground up restorations generally from rotten old chassis. Tracing these cars histories can be tricky so beware of inaccurate representations.
 
Such is the nature of the Jaguar SS100 that many were raced or used for classic events, a chequered history can have a positive effect on the cars value. The most desirable models are the 3.5 litre models built from 1938-on.
 

Performance and specs

 
1938 Jaguar SS 3.5
Engine 3485cc 12valve OHV I6
Power 125bhp @ 4250 rpm 
Torque n/a
Top speed 101mph 
0-60mph 10.9 seconds 
Fuel consumption n/a 
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2642mm
Length 3886mm
Width 1600mm
Height 1372mm
Weight 1181kg
 

Common problems

 
• Working on these cars is not as daunting as one might imagine, however parts are not always easy to obtain, so joining the SS100 register is a good idea to be kept in the loop. The Jaguar Heritage site is another good source for parts.
 
• Bodywork on most examples should be pristine, however if rust or rot has set in, specialist tools and jigs are required to repair body panels.
 
• The convertible roof frame can wear out over time and the roof lining can perish with age. There are a number of upholstery specialists who can replace these parts but the original specification colours and materials should be used to maintain the originality of the vehicle.
 
• Interior trim is usually a mix of leather and vinyl, individual trim pieces will need to be custom made if they are missing or damaged.
 
• Due to the popularity of these cars, there are fake cars being presented as the original article. If you are in doubt then get in touch with the Jaguar SS register and have a thorough check carried out. 
 
• If you opt for a replica or recreation then the most important thing to consider is the integrity of the build and the attention to detail. Most cars have been built on Jaguar XJ6 running gear so parts should be widely available.
 

Model history

 
1936: Jaguar 100SS launched with 100bhp 2.5 Litre inline 6 engine
1938: Uprated 3.5 litre model released now with 125bhp and true 100mph capability
1940: Production ends with 314 units built.
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
www.jaguardriver.co.ukJaguar Drivers' Club
www.jaguarheritage.comJaguar's official heritage and historic department
www.suffolksportscars.com Specialist replica Jaguar manufacturer
 

Summary and prices

 
If you are after an original SS 100 you will need to have patience and deep pockets as they rarely come up for sale, and change hands for well over £350,000 when they do. Very few will be in need of any major restoration, but only consider letting a specialist work on the car’s body and trim, as badly restored examples will lose a lot in value.
 
Recreations and replicas are slightly more numerous and generally cost a fraction of what the original cars go for. A Birchfield Sports can go for around £15,000, while some of the more accurate recreations featuring original components may go up to £100,000. 
 
If you’re after the real SS100 experience then there is no substitute for the original, however recreations that are faithful to the original design can provide a very close approximation of the real thing and may be more readily available. 
Jaguar SS100 Jaguar SS100
Last updated: 31st Aug 2016
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Jaguar SS100 cars for sale

5 Search results
Jaguar SS100
595000 595000 GBP
  • Jaguar SS100 "3 1/2 Litre"

    POA POA

    Today, having completed limited mileage since the aforementioned re-commissioning, this SS100 presents in superb condition and comes accompanied by the most extensive history file DK have experienced including over 70 magazine articles, Colorado Title, and Jaguar Certificate of Conformity. In addition, a correct type 3.5 Litre spare engine is included in the sale. This sale represents a truly extraordinary opportunity to own the most featured SS100 of all time. Cars with a remarkable history such as this, do not come around very often and DK Engineering are delighted to be able to offer this iconic motorcar for sale.

    For sale
    DK Engineering
    01923 287 687 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • 1982 Jaguar SS100 to Suffolk Specification

    POA POA

    The SS100 was built between 1936 and 1940 by SS Cars Ltd of Coventry, England. The nomenclature was to reflect the theoretical 100mph maximum speed and once approved by Sir William Lyons, the name 'Jaguar' was given to a new saloon version in 1936. Widely considered to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing Jaguar cars ever built, it is also one of the rarest with only 198 of the 2.5-litre and 116 of the 3.5-litre models being made. Most stayed on the home market but 49 were exported. Cars in good condition will now regularly fetch in excess of £300,000. It is of little surprise, rather like its later stable mates, the C and D-Type, that those of us of a more impecunious persuasion looked for an alternative and a number of boutique car manufacturers then set about to feed this demand, supplying good quality recreations at a fraction of the cost of a real one. Built in 2000, this Jaguar SS100 recreation is finished in Mason's Black with matching black mohair hood and black hide interior. The car has been built to the highest standard by the previous engineer/owner and has included various advantageous improvements to the chassis with most of the component parts supplied by Roger

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
  • 1938 Jaguar SS100 3 1/2

    $595,000(£486,293.50) $595,000(£486,293.50)

    Incredible 1938 Jaguar SS100 3 1/2 Litre Roadster This 1938 Jaguar S.S. 100 is one of three originally imported into the Netherlands and has been under the same ownership since 1959. This S.S. 100 is in generally un-restored condition apart from a re-spray in British Racing Green carried out circa 1967. The engine block was exchanged around 1960 for one taken from a 3 1/2 litre Jaguar Mark V. However, the cylinder head is still the original high-performance S.S. unit, cast in bronze. The gearbox is likewise original. The bodywork is in need of restoration as is the bright-work. Various parts were re-chromed in the 1960s and could now use another re-chroming. The interior was re-upholstered in the 1970s and is in generally good condition. The side windows are missing but the original pocket behind the seats for storing them when the top is down is still there. Dashboard instruments and dials are original and functioning. The S.S. 100 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. Gullwing Motor Cars is proud to offer you with the rare opportunity to acquire an example of the model that can be

    • Year: 1938
    For sale
  • 1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) Classic Showcase performed a comprehensive restoration to this rare 1938 Jaguar SS 100 3.5L to the highest Show level possible. Included in the restoration process, the vehicle has been dissembled, and the interior has been removed and documented, the vehicle body has been worked, the metal finished, fitted, and leaded as needed, and all body parts and chrome will be fitted to the car; It has been primed, sealed, has had a base and clear coats applied, and was color sanded and buffed to a beautiful finish. All systems are being gone through and are being restored and replaced as necessary. The transmission, clutch, and hydraulic systems are in the process of being fully restored, and the car will receive all new rubber , grommets and seals. In addition, the britework will be completely re-plated to Show level quality as well. The car is in the process of receiving all new upholstery, and will be fitted in the correct materials by master upholsterers in our Upholstery Department. The roadster's parts and components are in the process of being restored in the proper colors and finishes as well, and we will be using NOS parts wherever possible. Extreme attention to detail is be

    • Year: 1938
    • Mileage: 23542 mi
    For sale
  • 1938 Jaguar SS100 Roadster

    POA POA

    (SOLD) This right hand drive 1938 Jaguar SS100 has come from a collection of a single owner who had it for more than 40 years. It was delivered dressed in Gunmetal Grey with a red leather interior. It has a London license plate of EYU 868, which it still retains today. The car has been in the USA for at least 50 years. The SS received an upgraded replacement engine which is a post-war 3½ Liter unit. Classic Showcase has scheduled to perform a comprehensive Show-level restoration to this rare 1938 Jaguar SS 100. Included in the restoration process, the vehicle will be completely dissembled, and the interior and all components will be removed and documented. The vehicle body will be stripped to bare metal, worked, the metal finished, fitted, and leaded as needed, and all body parts and chrome will be fitted to the car; It will be primed, sealed, have a base and clear coat applied in its original color combination, and be color sanded and buffed to a beautiful finish. All systems will be gone through, and will be restored, or replaced as necessary. The transmission, clutch, and hydraulic systems will be fully restored, and the car will receive all new rubber, grommets and seals. In ad

    • Year: 1938
    • Mileage: 100 mi
    For sale
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