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Car Tales: Utterly Outstanding, Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre

‘Widely considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing sports cars of the 1930s, what made the Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre famous was not only its sheer beauty but also the power implicit in that ‘100’ tag: the Jaguar SS100 was so named because the 3.5 litre version could hit over the magical 100 mph, and tear from 0-60 mph in 10.4 seconds – terrific speeds for the time.


1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre for sale
‘Its 6-cylinder engine, capable of over 125 horsepower, was a winner, and its chassis clothed in a beautiful swept winged body remains a classic to this day.

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‘It was also the car that made Jaguar. The SS Jaguar 100, a British 2-seat sports car manufactured between 1936 and 1939 by SS Cars Ltd of Coventry, England, founded in 1922 to build motorcycle sidecars, adopted an animal name as a marketing device: in this case, a leaping jaguar.
1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre side view
‘So it was on an SS100 that the famous Jaguar ‘leaper’, the marque’s signature feline hood ornament, was first displayed. In mid-1936 the first version of the Jaguar mascot was reputedly described by Sir William Lyons, founder of the company, as ‘looking like a cat shot off a fence.’
‘A later publicity photograph of the new Model 100 ‘Jaguar’ (registration mark CKV 250), parked outside the offices of SS Cars Ltd in early 1937, shows a revised Jaguar ‘leaper’ mounted on the radiator cap.
‘It is this more stylized ‘leaper’ that became the trade mark for Jaguar Cars, Ltd., remaining in use to this day. The specific model with the CKV 250 number-plate was ordered as a gift for the 16th anniversary birthday of young King Mihai 1 of Romania. As a motoring enthusiast, he declared that the SS100 was his favorite car and he drove it consistently until he left power and fled Romania from attacking communist forces.
‘In March 1945 the shareholders of SS Cars agreed to change the company’s name to Jaguar Cars Ltd. So the Jaguar SS100 3.5-litre is the start of an astonishingly impressive dynasty. The SS100 is also very rare: only 198 2.5-litre and 116 3.5-litre models were manufactured, most remaining in the UK, with only 49 exported.
‘Right now at Beverly Hills Car Club we have one of these 49 scarce expatriate Jaguar SS100 3.5 litres. This 1938 model is featured with matching numbers and with ‘SS’ badging in the body and engine, a two-seater sports car that is one of only 116 examples of the 3.5-litre model.
1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre rear view
‘Equipped with a manual transmission, 3.5-litre straight-six engine, SU dual carburetors, dual exhaust outlets, S. Smith & Sons instruments, Lucas-branded ammeter, convertible soft top, chrome radiator grille, bonnet louvers, weather equipment, four-spoke steering wheel, forward-folding seats, Lucas tires, wire wheels with two-eared knock-off wheel spinners, full-size spare tire at the rear, and Lucas ‘King of the Road’ chrome headlights, this an extremely rare opportunity to be a part of a select few to acquire one of the most aesthetically gorgeous sports cars that has been in California tucked away for many years in storage. This example will make an exciting project.
1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre interior
‘The SS 100 was an outstanding looking sports car, almost unrivaled in its attractions. Not only did it have a very high standard of finish, but it owned a powerful and deep gurgle that very quickly rose in tone.
‘Road holding was excellent.
‘With a weight of only 445 pounds, the Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre was a hit with sporting drivers and professional racers. A team of works cars was a winner in a number of national and international events: the Alpine Trials, for example, the Monte Carlo Rally and Britain’s number one rally event, the RAC Rally, in which it took the Manufacturers Team Prize.
‘Of the 49 models exported from Britain, one notable example, bearing the number plate CNP 947, was driven and raced by pioneering American television host Dave Garroway. Following his service in the US Navy in World War II, Garroway had become a disc jockey at WMAQ in Chicago. Garroway also worked to organize jazz concerts, creating a ‘Jazz Circuit’ of local clubs in 1947, bringing back interest in this musical genre: in Billboard magazine’s polls in 1948, 1949 and then again in 1951, his fellow disc jockeys voted him the best in the USA.
‘His white 3.5-litre car still bears the alligator hide trim on its instrument panel, seat surfaces and steering wheel from his ownership. Jaguar Motorcars would provide Garroway with the first XK 3.8-litre engine sold privately, a race prepared unit which remains with the car.
1938 Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre eingine
‘Meanwhile, James Leasor, one of the best-selling authors of the 1960s, a British apparent heir to Ian Fleming, created an unnamed character who was an SS100-driving Belgravia vintage car dealer, his car featuring prominently in Leasor’s novels.
‘That may have been fiction.
‘But one thing is certainly the truth: the Jaguar SS100 3.5 Litre was one of the very greatest automobiles of the pre-World War II era.
-Alex Manos, Owner
Jaguar SS100 buyer Alex Manos

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