Hofmann’s are delighted to offer the chance to own this exquisite, matching chassis and engine numbered, 1938 Jaguar SS100, one of only 118 ever produced with the 3 ½ litre engine.
Picture the scene, It’s the 1930’s. You turn on your valve radio and hear the sounds of Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. It’s the Art Deco Period and fashion is chic. It influenced the design of buildings, furniture, Jewellery, fashion, cars, cinemas, trains, ocean liners, and everyday objects such as radios and vacuum cleaners. To this end, the SS100 here at Hofmann’s epitomises the very essence of the “swinging” 30s, with its elegant curves and sophistication.
Launched for 1936, the SS100 was the first real high-performance model produced by SS Cars Limited, powered by a new Weslake-developed overhead-valve engine in a shortened SS1 chassis. In 1938, a 3½-Litre version producing 125bhp was added to the range, the larger engine’s extra power making the SS100 a genuine100 mph car. SS Cars felt that the introduction of the overhead valve unit justified the adoption of a new name for the series. As SS Cars boss William Lyons later recalled: “I immediately pounced on Jaguar as it had an exciting sound to me”. In point of fact, “Jaguar” would be adopted as the marque name in 1943.
Although a fine touring car, the SS100 was marketed as suited primarily for competition work. Its first major success came early, if somewhat unexpectedly, when Tommy Wisdom, crewed by his wife, won the arduous International Alpine Trial in 1936, beating Bugatti and bringing the fledgling marque to the attention of the Continental public. This would be the first of many successful rallying forays, including class wins in the RAC events of 1937 and 1938, and the Alpine (outright) again in 1948. Around 198 2½-Litre and 116 of the later 3½-Litre cars had been made by the time SS100 production was prematurely ended by the outbreak of war.
As with most vehicle of this ilk, Chassis number ‘39083’ has led a varied and very interesting life. Initially completed by SS Cars on 11th August 1938, two days later it was delivered new by Appleyard of Leeds to its first lucky owner. The original colour was Battleship Grey, complemented by a silver interior. The car’s first registration was CWX 333 – which she still wears today. Sometime after this, around 1940 the car found its way to Oklahoma and in the hands of a Mr Howard Kerr (co-owner of Howell-Kerr Inc). During Mr Kerr’s ownership 39083 was displayed in the Oklahoma Preservation hall, which at the time was home to the Howell-Kerr collection, before being sold again by the son following his father’s death sometime after 1965.
The car later turned up in Switzerland. According to the history file (in German) that comes with the car, a certain Monsieur Duse in Switzerland owned ‘39083’ “for a very long time”, having purchased it from a fellow Swiss who wished to remain anonymous. On 10th April 1979, Monsieur Duse sold the car to a dentist named Jean-Paul Imesh of Sjön, Switzerland.
The 12th August 2000 saw ‘39083’ make its way to Germany where it was acquired by Hans-Dieter Hensel of Meschede. Under his custody, this classic sports car was completely disassembled and the body removed from the chassis. Then followed a ‘last nut and bolt’ restoration of the engine and all other mechanical parts on the chassis, including brakes, front and rear axles, drive train, suspension and cooling system. The chassis was sandblasted and painted, while the body was stripped to bare metal and repairs to the original panels were performed with great care. Finally, the body was painted in a Gunmetal Grey with clearcoat. A new stainless steel exhaust and fuel tank were manufactured, and the electrics rewired. The brightwork was re-chromed and the interior and tonneau cover restored in accordance with original patterns by professionals in Coventry. All ancillaries, switches and lights were brought back to correct, original specification using original items procured with great difficulty and substantial expense.
More than 1,300 man hours were spent bringing this simply beautiful motorcar back to its very best, at a cost of €110,000. Two large folders accompany the car, which contain detailed restoration invoices, along with near impossible to precure original owners Handbook and sales brochure.
On to 2007, and the car was in the possession of Jürgen Niedermeyer in Frankfurt, before being acquired by Henrik Frederiksen, passing to a new owner when the Frederiksen Collection was auctioned by Bonhams in September 2015. The buyer repatriated the SS100 back to the UK where it passed via Hofmann’s to the current owner. The car remains in spectacular order, and in recent years has competed in the historic Mille Miglia and was paraded in front of the Royal family at Windsor Castle, much to the delight of Prince Edward who took a particular shine to the car.
Hofmann’s of course, welcomes any questions you may have regarding this “Unique Car” and a personal viewing can be arranged at our Henley on Thames showroom on request.