The Swallow Sidecar Company, or Jaguar, as we know it today started with humble begging’s in 1922 with 2 enthusiastic visionaries and a goal to build bodies for the Austin Seven. It wasn’t until about 12 years later in 1934 when they realized the formula for a motor car of their owner. SS Cars Ltd. was founded in 1934, and can be considered the true start of Sir William Lyons’ vision to produce what would become some of the world’s greatest sports cars of all time. The SS100 wasn’t an instance success; in fact it is the ultimate version of SS Car’s initial efforts. There was the SS1, SS2, and finally the SS90, which portrayed what a real sports car, was all about. A low chassis, high fenders, slender windscreen, two seats, it had all the ingredients for a sporting pedigree. By 1936 Lyons had made the call for a redesign of the engine by William Heynes and Harry Weslake. Something more powerful was needed for the SS90, and so a OHV version of the original 2.5L was produced. All of which would end up as the base for the SS100 to be.
By 1938 the SS100 was introduced, a more powerful 3.5L version of the Straight six was introduced. Fed by two SU carburetors, halted by Girling Brakes, and weighing in at only 2,600 pounds, the new SS100 was a sight to behold. Its performance figures showed brilliantly with 125BHP, 0-60 in 13.5 Seconds (Autocar Magazine – 1937), and it reached the magical 101MPH that was so fabled in the 1930’s. It was indeed the car that made Jaguar, and today is easily one of the greatest sports cars of all time. An original, and a spectacle of automotive history. Sadly, only 116 3.5L examples would be produced in their 2 year run and today are considered a must have as the centerpiece or important addition to any significant collection.
In the car world it happens from time to time that only a few examples of some of the most brilliant cars of all time end up as a limited production. The contemporary outlook by hobbyist leaves most with a question, why? In realizing that there will never be another AC Cobra, Auburn Boat tail, or Jaguar SS100 to roll out of their respective factories leaves only one option: recreation. Within this niche of the automotive world there are replicas, continuations, kit cars, or the like. All of which generally follow a guideline of the original design and idea, but are usually never realized as exacting, or painstakingly accurate in their appearance and/or function. Over time this has easily caused a mix of opinions, and ultimately has placed the “replica” or “kit car” as we know it in a substandard category and by matter of opinion to the purist, unacceptable. Once in a great while however, there is a dedicated company that comes to light, a company that is driven by passion, and is able to supply the world once more with old world craftsmanship, backed by the original philosophy to power their efforts in creating what once was.
Suffolk Jaguar from Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK easily qualifies as the world’s foremost authority on the recreation of the famed Jaguar SS100. So much in fact that the Suffolk SS100 has on occasion been accepted in to various classic car registers as well as the Jaguar Owners Club. Suffolk’s success is derived from simply not changing anything in terms of appearance or dimensional accuracy. The beauty and success of the SS100 as a timeless automobile comes from exactly how it presented in 1938. Suffolk has been very careful in their efforts to combine upgraded (but hidden) performance to a long lost style and presentation of the ultimate pre-war sports car. The production of 10-12 cars annually keeps them very high quality with extreme attention to detail in the reproduction of many original SS100 components throughout. To date over 200 cars have been produced, rendering these exact recreations as a well accepted and a sensible option to the original, for far less.
The example on offer here is perhaps the ultimate Suffolk SS100 to have. It’s finished in the right colors with correct period attributes, sports all of the options available, and has been road proven while still retaining a low 2,770 miles from new. As a recent build from Suffolk Jaguar, it’s comprised of there latest tweaks and updates throughout. The build starts with custom made reproduction parts, as well as an XJ6 donor car for driveline components. The chassis is a purpose built ladder type configuration designed and fabricated to the exact dimensions of the original only with stronger medal and powder coated black. The body is an exact reproduction whereby the molds are taken from an original, and are then recreated in fiberglass. Many of the components such as the headlamps, grill and shell, emblems, lighting, windscreen and other iconic original components are all recreated to exacting standards of the original. The mechanical components are sensibly sourced from an XJ6. This includes the final variation of the infamous DOHC Straight Six, the fully synchromesh gearbox (with overdrive), and the rear end. All are completely disassembled, rebuilt, catalogued and reinstalled during the build as new. This particular example is fitted with 2 SU Carburetors, and includes the period looking Blockley tires and black wire wheels; properly English with a sporting period look.
Cosmetically this car shows incredibly well and was most professionally completed. Today it shows very well with deep black paint throughout. The panel fitment and overall build quality is superb, sturdy, and highly accurate. The rubber moldings, chrome, and various trim items are all present where they should be as per the original and are in excellent condition. The top and all available weather gear shows as new including a set of wind wings and a tonneau cover. A luggage rack is also included as are signal lamps, but they have never been installed to ensure a totally period correct and accurate presentation throughout. There are a few minor defects to be expected with a car that has been driven, it does have a crack in the windscreen (easily replaceable), as well as a couple of cracks and nicks here or there in the paint. All of which are minor, hardly noticeable, and do not warrant refinishing. The Aluminum hood is also correct showing the properly placed 200 louvers like that of the original, and fits well.
The interior in its Olive Green perfectly contrasts the black and is very appropriate. It is very high quality throughout with Wilton carpets and Connolly leather. The dash is trimmed nicely with accurately reproduced gauges that are all in working order. The steering wheel is also finely crafted, and in the rear is a lockable storage compartment as well. The modern additions to make these cars convenient as every day drivers are by way of a hidden console under the dash where all of the turn signals, ignition, and various other items can be found, out of view. The wiring is tidy, and is also mostly XJ6 sourced. One interesting addition is the application of heated seats, which have been custom installed, but well hidden into the original style seats. The interior trim fitment, door panels, kick panels, carpeting and overall presentation is fabulous with very close attention to detail and presenting beautifully.
With 2,770 miles since the completion of this example, the car is essentially new in many ways. The major mechanical components, as sourced from the XJ6, have the benefit of allowing the owner to enjoy the car without the worry of sourcing any part needed. This example starts instantly, idles smoothly with instant throttle response and shows strong oil pressure and steady coolant temperature in the middle of the range once warm. As Jaguar most successful engine of all time, it is well proven after 30 years. This example’s driveline is 100% completely rebuilt by Suffolk Jaguar and is only 2,770 miles old.
This car makes an exceptional exhaust note, runs incredibly smooth and is quite quick with nearly 260HP. It runs and drives without fault and no creeks, rattles or questionable noises are present. The braking system is quick to response and is easily of modern capability. The suspension has the appearance of the original but is a purpose built coil over type and is very suited for dialing driving. Overall it gives the intensity of a powerful sports car from the 1930’s but subtly performs it’s modern tricks to keep one safe and accurate while enjoying the experience. It is truly a well crafted machine whereby no corners have been cut in its production. This is a properly engineered car with all of the attributes a discerning enthusiast requires of his special interest automobile.
This is a rare opportunity to acquire a true work of art from the famed craftsman at Suffolk Jaguar. Not many examples reside here in the US, especially not presenting in these stunning colors. At the end of the day it can be said that this may not be a genuine 1938 Jaguar SS100, but it is absolutely identical and admirable as such in its presentation. It’s easily enjoyed, and well worth the comparative minimal investment. We ask those interested to please inquire with any additional interest. Included in the sale is an extra pair of carburetors, air cleaners, rear luggage rack, turn signals, and Suffolk Manual.
The Suffolk SS100, compliments of Suffolk Jaguar: