Celebrating the Spirit of Competition

1938 Jaguar 3.5 Litre SS 100

Chassis Number : 39047             Horsepower : 125           Displacement : 6-cylinder, 3.5 L           Wheelbase : 104"

These Cars

In 1936 the first SS 100 Jaguar was produced, its name relating to the fact that it was a 100 mile per hour sports cars produced by the Swallow Sidecar Company. Its 6 cylinder 3.5 liter engine capable of over 125 horsepower was clearly a winner and its chassis was clothed in a beautiful swept winged body which remains a classic to this day, often reproduced by British replicators. The 8’ 8″ wheel base assured maneuverability as well as both speed and reliability, and only 116 of the 3.5 liter models were made between 1938 and 1940. At just 445 ? this model became popular among both sporting drivers as well as racers and a team of works cars was successful in a variety of national and international events such as the Alpine Trials, the Monte Carlo Rally and the RAC Rally (the premier rally event in Britain) during which they took the Manufacturers Team Prize.

Works driver Walter Norton said:

In its day the SS 100 was an outstanding looking sports car with a very high standard of finish and had a powerful and deep gurgle that rose in tone very quickly in the most satisfying manner. Road holding was excellent. Sure, it slid on curves under power, but it was most controllable and had an excellent lock. When required, the tail could be made to slide by the sudden and hard application of the fly-off handbrake and this was the fastest way of getting around pylons…so long as you could approach with sufficient speed!

In addition, a stock car was capable of accelerating from the standing start to 60 miles an hour in 10.5 seconds. This car established Jaguar as a true sports car manufacturer, capable of winning all kinds of road races. Sadly the production of the SS 100 was stopped by the war. However Jaguar’s direction was established and soon after the war the great XK 100/XK 120 cars soon evolved for sportsmen and the C type, a further evolution, was available for the true racing competitor.

Our Car

The early history of this car is not known but some of it was provided by a previous owner, Jack Stilwell of Minneapolis. He said the car was originally delivered to a well known textile manufacturer in St. Nicholas, Belgium with whom Jack spoke. Jack was apparently the second owner. It was purchased by this family in 1938 later was involved in an accident after which it was not driven. Jack found it was unused in a garage where the chauffeur drove it to warm up temperature on the first day of every month. He talked the original owner into parting with it, then the car was shipped from Belgium to Baltimore, from whence Jack drove it to Minneapolis (in the process of which he burned out the generator and voltage regulator). He and his wife used the car daily and enjoyed sports car activities during the summers. In a local vintage car race, Mrs. Stilwell finished second behind a chain drive Frazer Nash and ahead of Jack in his Bugatti 40A. Jack had fond memories of the car when he learned of our subsequent ownership.

The car was quite complete with fender modifications which were soon taken care of by David George. This was the first restoration David and I did together, which was completed by 1984. Since then we have enjoyed a wonderful relationship and David has fully restored and maintained some of the best cars in the collection. We’ve always had a simpatico because of his respect for originality and sensitive restoration. She required no additional parts except for installation of a proper generator. It was always a strong runner and apparently had received little use during most of its early life. The upholstery appears to be original and a letter from Jaguar Cars Limited indicates that the original trim was olive green, as is the present currently. Finished in black cellulose it presents a striking appearance and is certainly one of the prettiest pre-war cars ever.