1937 Jaguar SS


  • Year of manufacture 
  • Chassis number 
  • Engine number 
  • Lot number 
  • Drive 
  • Condition 
  • Number of seats 
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
  • Drivetrain 
  • Fuel type 


1937 SS Jaguar 2½-Litre Roadster
Registration no. YXG 173
Chassis no. 12538
Engine no. L1612E

'SS' originally stood for the Swallow Sidecar & Coachbuilding Company, which had been founded in Blackpool, England by William Walmsley. The company branched out into motor manufacture in 1926, its first major success being an attractive sports saloon on the Austin Seven chassis, the design being the work of Walmsley's partner, one William Lyons. Relocation to Coventry followed and the Swallow range expanded to include models on Morris Cowley, Wolseley Hornet and Standard Sixteen chassis. Marque status arrived in October 1931 with the launch of the SS1. Based on that of the 16hp Ensign, the SS1's chassis was supplied exclusively to Swallow by Standard, who also provided the six-cylinder sidevalve engine and four-speed gearbox. Although unspectacular in performance, the SS1 went some way towards establishing the pattern for future Jaguars, combining sporting good looks with a better-than-average specification and all at a bargain price. Indeed, so successful was Lyons' new venture that production of Swallow-bodied cars ceased altogether in 1933 and SS Cars Limited was formed, initially as a subsidiary of the Swallow sidecar-building business.

By the time the SS90 sports car arrived in 1935, William Heynes had joined as Chief Engineer. Based on a shortened SS1 chassis, re-engineered by Heynes, the SS90 again demonstrated Lyons' consummate skill as a stylist, its long bonnet, smoothly flowing wings, cut-away doors and truncated tail making it every inch the epitome of the 1930s sports car. Although undeniably handsome and good for 90mph, the SS90 was handicapped by the limitations of its sidevalve engine, a deficiency that would soon be rectified by another of Lyons' new recruits, gas-flow consultant Harry Weslake.

In 1936 the new Weslake-developed overhead-valve 2,663cc power unit appeared in two new models: the 2½-Litre saloon and SS100 sports car. The introduction of the OHV engine was considered to justify the adoption of a new name for the series, SS Cars boss William Lyons later recalling that 'I immediately pounced on Jaguar as it had an exciting sound to me.' ('Jaguar' would be adopted as the marque name in 1943, 'SS' having by then acquired a somewhat tarnished reputation.) With 104bhp on tap from the twin-carburettor 'six', the newcomers' performance at last matched the style that had already become a company hallmark.

This SS Jaguar was delivered on 1st January 1937 to the distributor P J Evans of Birmingham and sold new to a Mr Beavon Clayton. It was originally delivered with engine number '252253'. The original four-door saloon the body was removed approximately 40 years ago and this stylish roadster body built and fitted to the original un-shortened chassis, thus retaining the longer frame's excellent handling characteristics. The steering column was extended to facilitate the creation of a long bonnet and a beautiful flowing wing line, while the body is coach built in the traditional manner, consisting of aluminium panels on a timber frame. The exterior is polished rather than painted, and the interior is trimmed in black leather. All mechanicals are said to be in good order. The engine emits a delightful Vintage-style deep burble from its 3" exhaust pipe and the SS is said to be very exciting to drive. The car is supplied with a fold-flat windscreen that can be easily refitted if required. The history file contains a V5C registration document, Jaguar Heritage Certificate, recent restoration invoices and an MoT certificate valid until August 2016.