1937 SS 100 Jaguar 2.5 Litre Ex-Brooklands
- Period Competition History
- Preservation Class Concours eligible
Still in its early paintwork of BRG over red interior
- One of just 198 cars built
- One of the most iconic Pre War English Sports
It is difficult to overstate the importance of the SS100 to the Jaguar legend. The Jaguar SS100 was the first ‘real’ Jaguar, with ‘100’ proclaiming a maximum speed of 100 mph. Widely considered the most aesthetically pleasing sports car of the 1930s the two-seater SS100 was primarily marketed for competition use, which goes some way to explaining its tiny production numbers: 191 2½ Litre and 118 3½ Litre cars. With wins at National and International level, the triumph of the SS100 programme helped convince Sir William Lyons to develop the competition department which led to the the XK120 and eventually the C-Type and D-Type, netting five Le Mans 24-hours victories between them.
The SS100 also had a loyal customer base among gentleman racers, like privateer Harry Kemp Place, the first owner of the example offered here. A keen adventurer and traveller Place started his competition career with motor cycles as early as 1925, but over the next two decades he owned and raced Bentleys; a Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51; a Healey Silverstone; Land Speed Record holder Parry-Thomas’s Flat Iron Special and an XK120 which he raced in the British Empire Trophy in 1953.
But his motor racing career started with his SS100, chassis ‘18067’ which he purchased in 1937 and raced over the next two years at Brooklands, participating in the High Speed Trials of 1939 and various other events.
The history file contains photos of the car in action at Brooklands on Test Hill and on the circuit, along with photos of Place’s other competition cars.
(Place was following the lead of a string of other privateers like Tommy Wisdom, whose performance on the 1936 International Alpine Trial which saw him drive an SS100 2.5 litre to overall victory and Jack Harrop, whose roadster made its competition debut on the Sixteenth Monte Carlo Rally, but more significantly went on to win the Sixth RAC Rally in 1937, just as Place’s SS100 was dispatched from the factory.
Such was the versatility and durability of these cars that Harrop drove his own SS100 to overall victory in this 1,000 mile race, beating the Works-entered SS100s of Tommy Wisdom and E.H. Jacobs into second and fourth places respectively. Invited to drive for the factory thereafter, Harrop won the 1938 RAC Rally, and finished 10th overall on the 1939 Monte Carlo Rally aboard other SS100s.)
Its next appearance was at the 1961 Jaguar Driver’s Club Rally, at Beaulieu, by which time the colour has been changed to BRG and the interior retrimmed in red leather. Two superb brass plaques mounted on the screen surround record a 2nd Class Award in the Silver Jubilee Driving Tests, and more significantly a 2nd class award in the Silver Jubilee Concours D’Elegance. This suggests that the beautifully patinated paint and leather trim are at least 60 years old, and would surely be eligible for a preservation class concours. It was noted at the time that the engine number was non-matching, and so had been changed at some time prior to 1960.
It would also appear from another badge on the windscreen surround that the car subsequently moved to the South of France as the then owner was a member of the Automobile Club de Nice et Cote. It is likely the car returned to the UK in 1988 when it was sold by Coys of Kensington, and the original catalogue is still in the history file, complete with paddle.
In the intervening years the car has passed through a number of respected classic car dealers, from CARS Howard to Fiskens; several London-based owners and a member of the Saudi Royal Family.
It is rare to find a car of this vintage in such beautifully unmolested and patinated condition, and it retains many original and rare fittings like the aero screens; spotlamps, badges and a very rare ’88 badged bumper. However while retaining all of the car’s period character the current owner has cleverly restored the car mechanically from the inside out, so it is on the button and a joy to drive. He is also in the process of reinstating the original registration number CYB 304 as it appears on period photos and on both Jaguar Driver’s Club plaques in 1961.