1934 Jaguar SSISS1
Year of manufacture1934
Number of seats2
1934 SS1 2½-Litre Sports Saloon
Registration no. WAS 238
Chassis no. 248788
'Yet there was no doubt about the thrust of the style; it was a long bonnet and a low roofline, a small well-furnished interior, and a distinctive recognisable "face". It had character, it had style, it set fashion more than it followed it, and captured with astonishing precision the idiom of the sports racer, the rally car, the vogue-ish look for which Lyons had a supreme aptitude.' - Eric Dymock, 'The Jaguar File'.
Forerunner of the marque 'Jaguar' from SS Cars Ltd of Coventry, the SS1 predated yet epitomised the later advertising slogan, 'Grace, Space, Pace.' 'SS' originally stood for the Swallow Sidecar & Coachbuilding Company, which had been founded in Blackpool, England by William Walmsley in 1922. 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 was the work of Walmsley's business partner, William Lyons, whose future Jaguar creations would confirm his reputation as one of the British motor industry's most gifted stylists. 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, a close-coupled coupé. Based on that of the Standard Ensign 16hp, the SS1's low, under-slung chassis was designed by Lyons and supplied exclusively to Swallow by John Black's Standard Motor Company, which also provided the 2.1/2.6-litre six-cylinder sidevalve engine and four-speed gearbox. Lyons' design for the body was startling: the SS1's excessively long bonnet, tiny passenger compartment and helmet-type front wings suggesting that it represented the ultimate in high performance. In so doing, 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.
The SS1 body style was revised for 1933 and the engines up-rated with alloy cylinder heads and improved manifolding, advances that raised the top speed to 75mph. For 1934 the SS1 gained a new wide-track chassis and slightly enlarged Standard engines of 2,143cc and 2,663cc, while the body - now available in four different configurations - underwent yet another restyle. In this, its final form, the SS1 remained in production until 1936, by which time 2,503 examples of this ultimate version had been made.
This SS1 saloon underwent a total 'ground upwards' restoration between 1995 and 2002, paying great attention to detail which was overseen by Tony Robinson of North Stables, with on the ground co-ordination of the project carried out by Rob Green of Gloria Coachwork. The 2½-litre Standard engine was completely rebuilt, a new ash body frame constructed by Roger Wing, the sliding sunroof reconstructed, and many body panels renewed, after which the car was repainted in black and re-trimmed in brown Connolly leather with sunburst-effect door panels. Other noteworthy features include an SS mascot, hexagonal instrumentation, wire wheels and concealed trafficators, all of which are authentic. 'WAS 238' has covered fewer than 100 miles since the restoration's completion and has been stored in an air conditioned environment. Accompanying documentation consists of restoration invoices totalling circa £30,000, a photographic record of the restoration, a 1934 Workshop Manual for the model, current MoT certificate and a V5C registration document.