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Jaguar SS 100

Jaguar SS1

With the Jaguar SS1, William Lyons succeeded in his goal to attract attention. Though the first Jaguar SS1 of model year 1932 was completed in haste and actually displeased Lyons, it was a hit with the press and a success with the public, which bought all 500 of his theatrical oeuvres.

1933 Jaguar SS1
The low-slung 1933 Jaguar SS1 grabbed attention
with its impossibly long hood.

By the standards of its day, the Jaguar SS1 was considered to have good road manners -- "taut and correct," was one judgment. It also had interior room and outward visibility that surprised people who had formed preconceptions from the exterior appearance.

The Jaguar SS1 was well-finished inside, of course, with leather and wood trim, comprehensive instrumentation that included an electric clock, and the lady's vanity set with mirror that had been a special Swallow feature from the beginning of its bodymaking.

Performance, however, didn't really match the implied promise of the styling. Even the larger Twenty engine produced only about 55 horsepower. Admittedly, speed doesn't seem to have been a vital concern to most SS1 customers, as the smaller (and less heavily taxed) 45-horse Sixteen engine proved more popular.

For 1933, the SS1 design was substantially revised. For one thing, Standard pumped up both engines a little by means of higher compression and better carburetion. The 2.6 engine now produced about 62 horsepower.

More significant were Lyons' chassis and body alterations. He got Standard to widen the track by two inches, to 51,which would give both more interior room and more stable handling. He had the chassis itself changed again. It was made stronger, its rails were run under the rear axle for lower body height, and the wheelbase was lengthened by a substantial seven inches, to 119.

Though the revamped second-series SS1 remained more of a 2+2 than a sedan, its deeper, longer cab gave more room to rear passengers. It also brought the original car's enormously long hood into better aesthetic balance.

Lyons seized the opportunity to redraw the side windows, so they now harmonized with the body's beltline. He also lightened the rather heavy, Germanic character of the original car by deleting the "helmet," or cycle-type, front fenders in favor of long "clamshells."

These swept gracefully back and down through newly added running boards to unite with the rear fenders, giving the profile a unity it had lacked. While at it, he reshaped the radiator shell and grille, deleted a brace bar between the headlights, and slanted the many louvers in the sides of the engine hood to match the door openings.

Altogether, the effect was of a much more refined, self-possessed, mature automobile, and became known as the Jaguar SS 1 second series.

For more on Jaguar and other great cars, see:

  • Jaguar Cars: Check out more information on the great sporting cats.
  • How Sports Cars Work: Get the lowdown on hundreds of fantastic sports cars from the 1940s to today.
  • Classic Cars: Learn about the world's most coveted automobiles in these illustrated profiles.
  • Ferrari: Learn about every significant Ferrari road car and racing car.
  • New Jaguars: Reviews, ratings, prices, and specifications on the current Jaguar lineup from the auto editors of Consumer Guide.
  • Used Jaguars: Reviews, recalls, trouble spots, and more on pre-owned Jaguars starting with the 1990 model year. From the auto editors of Consumer Guide.