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Jaguar SS (1935 - 1938)


In 1935 the 'Jaguar' name sprang upon the scene for the first time with a completely new saloon and sports car range.

William Heynes had been working to produce a completely new box section cruciform braced chassis for a vastly improved new model range. Meanwhile Weslake had been turning his talents to the Standard engine and by adopting overhead valves he succeeded in increasing output from 75 hp of the previous 21/2 litre sidevalve engine to no less than 105 hp.

For the new chassis and engine unit, Lyons designed a fresh body style, less flamboyant than previous models, yet still stylish. Indeed it was closer to contemporary Bentleys which cost nearly four times the price! Sophistication was increasing, and now customers were offered four doors for the first time on an SS. Indeed so different were the new models that it was felt that a new model name was needed. The Company's advertising agency suggested 'Jaguar' and though Lyons took some persuading, it was finally adopted. Thus the new cars would be known as SS Jaguars. The 'Jaguar' name was an ideal choice for feline grace and elegance, combining docility with remarkable power and agility. The cars have matured and developed to justify the analogy in every way.

With typical showmanship, Lyons had arranged a lunch at the Mayfair Hotel in London to launch the new model to the press a few days before the 1935 Motor Show. The SS Jaguar 21/2 litre saloon was unveiled to much favourable comment and the assembled company were asked to guess the price. The average guess was 632. The actual price just 395. All the earlier SS designs had been superseded with the exception of the larger Tourer body which lived on with a revised radiator grille and the fitment of the new 21/2 litre engine. The superb new sports car design, which had been glimpsed just briefly as the SS 90, reappeared in similar form as the SS Jaguar 100. With a revised treatment around the fuel tank area at the rear, and more importantly, the adoption of the new chassis and engine, the company now produced a sports car to be proud of.

For many, the SS 100 is a pre-war classic amongst sports cars. The price, incidentally, was just 395.

This new model was to be used to considerable effect in competitions, both national and international. In 1936 the motoring journalist Tom Wisdom, driving with his wife Elsie, won the International Alpine Trials in an SS 100. This car, which came to be known as 'Old Number 8' was run very successfully at the Brooklands circuit by Wisdom and in the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb by Coventry garage and theatre owner, Sammy Newsome.

A year later a team of three cars was entered by the factory in the RAC Rally, the premier such an event in Britain. The team, which included the Hon. Brian Lewis (later Lord Essendon) took the Manufacturer's Team Prize but outright success eluded them. Instead the event was won by a privately entered SS 100!

A new, enlarged 31/2 litre engine had been developed and tested in 'Old Number 8'. In September 1937, this engine, together with a new 11/2 litre unit, joined the 21/2 litre version in a completely revised model range.

Jaguar SS 100 3.5-litre Saoutchik roadster

The new models were not very different in appearance, distinguished from their predecessors by the lack of the side mounted spare wheel, but the range now employed 'all steel' construction. Additionally the old Tourer was replaced by Drophead versions of the saloon in each engine size.

Heynes had designed a further stronger chassis for the new body construction resulting in more interior space and bigger doors. Prices ranged from 298 for the 11/2 litre saloon to 465 for the 31/2 litre Drophead Coupe.

The new 31/2 litre engine was fitted to the '100' model and this gave genuine sports car performance with sixty miles per hour reached from a standstill in 10.5 seconds and a top speed of over 100 mph. At 445 the bigger-engined SS 100 was in a class of its own.

SS 3.5 litre
Wheelbase 2642 mm 104 in  
Track front 1372 mm 54 in  
rear 1372 mm 54 in  
Length 3886 mm 153 in  
Width 1600 mm 63 in  
Height 1372 mm 54 in  
Kerb weight 1181 kg 2604 lb  
Manufacturer Jaguar
Type S-6
12 valves total
2 valves per cylinder
Bore stroke 82.00mm 110.00mm
3.23 in 4.33 in
Bore/Stroke ratio 0.75
Displacement 3485 cc
(212.668 cu in)
Unitary capacity 580.83 cc/cylinder
Compression ratio 7.20:1
Fuel system 2 SU carbs
Aspiration Normal
Max. output 126.7 PS (125.0 bhp) (93.2 kW)
@4250 rpm
Coolant Water
Specific output 35.9 bhp/litre
0.59 bhp/cu in
0-Quarter-mile 17.10s 
Top speed 163 km/h
Power-to-weight 105.84 bhp/ton
Engine location Front
Engine alignment Longitudinal
Transmission 4M
Drive RWD
Top gear ratio 1.00
Final drive ratio 3.80