1937 Jaguar SS100
Lot 119
1937 SS100 Jaguar 2½-Litre Roadster Chassis no. 49017 Engine no. L368E (originally L1017E)
Sold for £219,900 (US$ 268,006) inc. premium

Lot Details
1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100 1937 Jaguar SS100
1937 SS100 Jaguar 2½-Litre Roadster
Registration no. MG 5680
Chassis no. 49017
Engine no. L368E (originally L1017E)


  • Launched for 1936, the SS100 was the first real high-performance model produced by SS Cars Limited and used a new Weslake-developed overhead-valve engine in a shortened SS1 chassis. The introduction of the ohv unit was considered to justify the adoption of a new name for the series, SS Cars boss William Lyons later recalling '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.)
    '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, the chassis of which 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.
    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 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. Launched in 1936 alongside the 2½-Litre saloon, the SS100 Jaguar sports car marked the company's first use of the 'Jaguar' name. Beautifully styled in the manner of its SS90 predecessor, the newcomer employed a shorter, 102"-wheelbase chassis and a revised version of the 2,663cc Standard six which, equipped with Weslake's overhead-valve cylinder head and breathing through twin SU carburettors, now produced 104bhp.
    Although a fine touring car, the SS 100 was marketed as primarily for competition work. Its first major success came early, if somewhat unexpectedly, when Tommy Wisdom, crewed by his wife, won the arduous International Alpine Trial in 1936, beating Bugatti and bringing the fledgling marque to the attention of the Continental public. This would be the first of many successful rallying forays, including class wins in the RAC events of 1937 and 1938, and the Alpine (outright) again in 1948. Around 198 2½-Litre and 116 of the later 3½-Litre cars had been made by the time SS 100 production was prematurely ended by the outbreak of war.
    As confirmed by a Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Production Trace Certificate, chassis number '49017' was manufactured 2 December 1937 and supplied new via Henlys 8 December 1937 to first owner H C Gilman. Its next known owner, from 1948 to 1953, was the Jaguar distributor John McVitie, who installed the works reconditioned engine currently fitted (number 'L386E') for a subsequent owner at sometime during the late 1950s/early 1960s. Between 1979 and 1982 the SS100 was displayed at the Stratford Motor Museum and then sold to the well-known Swedish collector, Steffan Svenby, who despatched it Tony Merrick, who became the registered keeper and undertook a no-expense-spared total restoration (engine excepted) and fitted a period Moss MkIV gearbox (the rebuilt original 'box is also included). Subsequently, it was shipped back to the UK for a complete engine rebuild, including conversion to unleaded compatibility, by Don Law.
    Featured in many magazines, 'MG 5680' has been enjoyed by the current vendor since acquisition in July 1999, covering only some 9,500 miles of non-competitive motoring tours since restoration. Further refurbishment carried out while in current ownership includes works to the steering box and suspension (Holman Engineering), servicing and fitting new front springs (Dave Davenport) and a back to bare aluminium repaint, the latter in 2012 (bills on file). Other noteworthy features include full weather equipment (frame, with hood and side screens virtually unused, and full length tonneau) and later-type flashing indicators operated by a switch concealed beneath the dashboard.
    Finished in Gunmetal Grey with blue leather interior (re-trimmed at time of restoration and now nicely patinated), the car is described as being in superb condition and comes complete with tools correctly stowed in a well detailed engine bay, history file, correspondence, JDHT Certificate, MoT to May 2013 and old/current Swansea V5/V5C registration documents.
    The SS100 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. Representing a rare opportunity to acquire an example of the model that can be said to have started the Jaguar legend, '49017' is eligible for a wide variety of the most prestigious historic motor sport events.
Auction information

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A successful bidder at this sale will be required to pay Bonhams 1793 Limited ("Bonhams") a premium calculated as follows:

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20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

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  1. Tim Schofield
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5804
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