Launched at London’s Mayfair Hotel in 1935, William (later Sir Wiliam) Lyons’ SS Cars introduced its newest models and it would forever after call its automobiles “Jaguars.” Setting a new standard for sleek styling and outstanidng performance, the new Jaguars were also deceptively, perhaps shockingly, affordable – a tradition that would continue well beyond the postwar era. These automobiles would also inspire Lyons’ famous Jaguar tagline, “Grace, Pace, and Space.”
One of the rarest and most desirable prewar Jaguars is the SS Jaguar 2 1/2-Litre OHV Tourer.  This freshly restored, complete matching numbers example from 1937 is, simply put, quite likely the finest available anywhere. You can make it yours at Worldwide Auctioneers’ Pacific Grove Auction on the Monterey Peninsula on Thursday, August 17th – the first catalogue-type auction to be held during the storied Monterey Car Week.
Here are the highlights:
• Exceedingly rare as 1 of just 53 examples produced in 1937
• Freshly completed total restoration to original specification
• One of the earliest cars bearing the “Jaguar” name
• Pure, completely matching numbers example
• Documented original data; 30 years of sole prior ownership

2,663 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine, dual SU carburetors, 105 HP, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel Girling mechanical drum brakes; wheelbase: 119″

Importantly, the sporty and versatile SS I-derived SS Jaguar 2 ½-Litre Tourer was powered by the Harry Weslake-upgraded, Standard-built six-cylinder engine for truly sporting performance. Now, as then, the 2 1/2-Litre Tourers are very rare with production along a small 105-car run for 1936 and 1937. According to Jaguar expert Terry McGrath of Australia, the 1936 cars are visually distinguished by their Lucas QK596 headlamps, with the 1937 models identified by large-diameter Lucas P100 units. Just 32 are identified and surviving today.

Bearing Chassis Number 19098, this wonderful 1937 SS Jaguar 2 ½-Litre Tourer is the 98th example of the 105 built in total for both years of production. According to its corresponding Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust certificate, 19098 left the factory in wonderful Suede Green paint over a matching interior.

It left the factory in March 1937, dispatched to Leigh Park Motors located in Datchet, Buckinghamshire. A copy of the original registration ledgers, dated 25 March 1937 and recently supplied by the Buckinghamshire Archives, lists the registration of 19098 to Leigh Park Motors, with the vehicle originally assigned it’s DKX 980 number plate. Today the car still retains its Leigh Park Motors metal tag under the bonnet adding further provenance to this 80-year old prewar Jaguar.

To many cinematic fans, the place names Datchet and Buckinghamshire were, and remain, famous as the homes of many film studios including Pinewood. Research into the car’s original owner continues, but according to a 1993-dated letter on file from Dorothy Thanby, who worked with her husband who was the principal of Leigh Park Motors, she stated that DKX 980 was “…registered in the name of Leigh Park Motors originally as we always licensed and insured all new vehicles ready for delivery to our clients.” Continuing, she wrote “The only American connection I can recall, however, was that of a Film Producer and his film actress wife who lived in Datchet at this time. I cannot recall definitely but I think they returned to the States before the outbreak of the War and that may have been when the SS I went too.” Since open Touring bodies were initially used on the SS I predating this vehicle and continued in production during 1936-37 as SS Jaguars, it is not altogether incorrect for the car to have been referred to as an SS I by Ms. Thanby in her letter.

While research into this vehicle’s provenance continues at press time, we do know this SS Jaguar was exported to the United States at some point before 1963. Documented ownership history resumes in 1963, with parts invoices and a 1968-dated photograph of the car undergoing a restoration confirming its ownership until 1970 by David T. Lee of Bexley, Ohio. The next owner of the car was Bernell Stewart of Gahanna, Ohio, believed to have been a Jaguar marque specialist, who purchased it from Mr. Lee and kept the car until 1977, when he sold 19098 to Thomas E. Strickland of Nashville, Tennessee. On February 25, 1987, Mr. Strickland sold the car to Leland Scott, Jr., who almost immediately obtained the Jaguar Daimler Vehicle Information Sheet confirming its original data and in 1993, he corresponded with Dorothy Thanby in an effort to confirm the vehicle’s original owner.

The current owner purchased 19098 from Mr. Scott, with the car solid, complete, and intact, and the numbers of the chassis, engine, and body all matching those recorded on the Jaguar Daimler Vehicle Information Sheet. The owner immediately commenced a total restoration to original specifications, with the process involving an estimated 2,000 hours of effort and the vehicle freshly and beautifully completed. Impressive documentation on this wonderful prewar Jaguar fills two complete binders, including photographs of the car as purchased and prior to restoration. Also included in the documents are clear images of the engine number and gearbox stampings for reference. While the classic car market is graced with many postwar Jaguars of all model types and body styles, few, if any, prewar OHV examples of SS Jaguars come up for sale, making this exceedingly rare and beautifully restored, matching numbers 1937 SS Jaguar 2 ½-Litre Tourer a truly exceptional find indeed. Jaguar collectors – be sure to take part in the offering of this incredible and extremely rare 1937 SS Jaguar 2 1/2-Litre OHV Tourer – the foundation of Jaguar’s sporting dynasty. For the catalogue description and more photos, click here. Be sure to register to bid by clicking here.

These two story/presentation boards created by the Consignor tell the story of this stellar 1937 SS Jaguar 2 1/2-Litre OHV Tourer wonderfully: