Classified Hero: unrestored Jaguar SS 100
After nearly 50 years in a barn, surviving the Second World War and an earthquake, a rare and unrestored Jaguar SS 100 is up for sale on AutoClassics
The President of the United States had suffered a stroke, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had only just met for the first time and The Beatles were still three years away from forming. Nine students in Little Rock, Arkansas would change American history forever and Juan Manuel Fangio had won his record fifth and final Formula 1 world title. The year was 1957 during which nuclear proliferation and the American Civil Rights movement dominated politics.
Away from the headlines, however, the year also meant for one 1938 Jaguar SS 100 it would see daylight for the last time in 50 years.
When the 100 was first released in 1936, the standalone ‘SS’ nameplate carried a sour second meaning over from Hitler’s Nazi Germany. That plus Sir William Lyons insisting his new car bore so little resemblance to its SS 90 forbearer meant that, to him, a new name was needed. Either way, the 100 was the first car to be called a Jaguar and to wear the famous leaper emblem.
Currently for sale with British Sports Cars in California is a one of the less-than-120 produced 3.5-litre variant SS 100s. With the more sought after, larger displacement six-cylinder engine it produced 125bhp and could hit 101mph (it set a top speed of 101mph but averaged 100mph over the recorded distance - hence the car's name) through a four-speed gearbox.
It also tipped the scales at 1150kg, meaning a 10.5 second (approximate) dash from 0 to 60mph. And all that performance could be had for £445, the equivalent of £29,000 in today’s money.
With a formidable package for its time, the SS 100 found success in motorsport. In 1936 a smaller capacity 2.5-litre car won the Alpine Trials and a year later one won the RAC Rally. Albeit that car was entered by a privateer, beating the three car-strong factory-backed team.
In similar fashion, this car listed here was entered for competition by its first owner Harold Bradley. He wanted more performance and so sent the car to future Jaguar employee Walter Hassan and told him to return the car with a top speed of 130mph. Enlarged and polished ports, larger SU carburettors and polished conrods helped make that a reality. Reputedly Bradley now owned the second fastest car in the world.
Owing to the SS 100’s rarity and generally agreed to beauty, this particular car is currently commanding $650,000. And that doesn’t include any paintwork but it does include paperwork – a certificate from Jaguar Heritage owing to the car’s verified authenticity.
It’s a totally unrestored, matching-numbers example that is accompanied by a fully documented history. The bodywork is totally original and in remarkable condition – mostly owing to its long hibernation in a Californian barn since it was bought by a new owner in ‘57. It survived damage in an earthquake in ‘89 and was then stripped of its paint in recent years ahead of an anticipated restoration. However its long standing keeper passed away soon after, making this one of the last unrestored SS100s around.
On the inside, the interior however has been reupholstered. The maroon hide would match the car’s original exterior colour. It’s been given the once over mechanically and is in full running order following British Sports Cars bringing it back to life after such a long gestation period.
Take note, however. While the advert lists the car with 100,000 miles, that’s only a placeholder as the car’s gauges were sent away to be rebuilt and so its genuine mileage is unknown.
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