1938–40 SS Jaguar 100
The SS Jaguar 100 is a British 2-seat sports car built between 1936 and 1940 by SS Cars Ltd of Coventry, England.
The ‘100’ was so named to reflect the theoretical 100 mph maximum speed of the vehicle. In common with many products of the thirties, the adoption of an animal name was deemed appropriate, and once approved by Sir William Lyons the name “Jaguar” was given to a new saloon car in 1936, and from that point to all the cars.
Following the Second World War, because of the Nazi connotations then attached to the initials “SS”, the company was renamed Jaguar in 1945.
Widely considered to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing Jaguar cars it is also one of the rarest, with only 198 of the 2.5-litre and 116 of the 3.5-litre models being made. Most stayed on the home market but 49 were exported. Cars in good condition will now regularly fetch in excess of £300,000. A near concours example was sold by auctioneers Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in 2007 for £199,500 but largely because of the rarity, auction prices for the SS100 have risen very strongly since then.
More recently a perfectly restored example and former Pebble Beach concours winning 1937 S.S. Jaguar 100 3½ Litre Roadster – was sold by Gooding & Co. on 17 August 2010 at their Pebble Beach auction. It fetched an astonishing £666,270 ($1,045,000).
It was on an SS100 that the famous Jaguar ‘leaper’ was first prominently displayed, despite an inauspicious start. In mid 1936 the first version of the Jaguar vehicle mascot was apparently described by the 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’ mascot mounted on he radiator cap. It is this more stylised ‘leaper’ that became the basis for subsequent mascots and the trade mark for Jaguar Cars Ltd that has been used to the present day.
The unnamed owner of the Belgravia vintage car dealer in James Leasor’s ‘Aristo Autos’ novels, ‘They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More’, ‘Never Had a Spanner on Her’ and ‘Host of Extras’ drives an SS100, and the car features prominently in the books.
The late Alan Clark MP owned a Jaguar SS100, and during his time in Margaret Thatcher’s government was often to be seen piloting his SS100 away from the House of Commons after late Parliamentary sittings.