Classic Van Auction Talk

Wednesday 3 April 2019

c.1936 SS1 Coupé SS1 Fixed-Head Coupé - BONHAMS AUCTIONS GOODWOOD MEMBERS MEETING Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX Sunday 7th April 2019


Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX
Sunday 7th April 2019

c.1936 SS1 Coupé SS1 Fixed-Head Coupé
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. to be advised
*One of only 2,503 built

*Rare survivor of an early SS model

*Formerly part of the Aalholm Automobile Museum *Collection, Denmark
*Acquired for the Key Collection in 2012
*Repainted since acquisition

  • Forerunner of the 'Jaguar' marque, the SS1 predated yet epitomised the former's advertising slogan, 'Grace, Space, Pace.' 'SS' originally stood for the Swallow Sidecar & Coachbuilding Company, which had been founded in Blackpool, England by William Walmsley in 1922. The company branched out into motor manufacture in 1926, its first major success being an attractive sports saloon on the Austin Seven chassis. The design was the work of Walmsley's business partner, William Lyons, whose future Jaguar creations would confirm his reputation as one of the British motor industry's most gifted stylists. Relocation to Coventry followed and the Swallow range expanded to include models on Morris Cowley, Wolseley Hornet, and Standard Sixteen chassis.

    Marque status arrived in October 1931 with the launch of the SS1, a close-coupled coupé. Based on that of the Standard Ensign 16hp, the SS1's low, under-slung chassis was designed by Lyons and supplied exclusively to Swallow by John Black's Standard Motor Company, which also provided the 2.1/2.6-litre six-cylinder side valve engine and four-speed gearbox. Lyons' design for the body was startling: the SS1's excessively long bonnet, tiny passenger compartment and helmet-type front wings suggesting that it represented the ultimate in high performance. In so doing, the SS1 went some way towards establishing the pattern for future Jaguars, combining sporting good looks with a better-than-average specification and all at a bargain price. Indeed, so successful was Lyons' new venture that production of Swallow-bodied cars ceased altogether in 1933 and SS Cars Limited was formed, initially as a subsidiary of the Swallow sidecar-building business.

    The SS1 body was revised for 1933 and the engines up-rated with alloy cylinder heads and improved manifolding, advances that raised the top speed to 75mph. For 1934 the SS1 gained a new wide-track chassis and slightly enlarged Standard engines of 2,143cc and 2,663cc, while the body - now available in four different configurations - underwent yet another restyle. In this, its final form, the SS1 remained in production until 1936, by which time 2,503 examples of this ultimate version had been made.

    Believed to be a 2.1-litre model, the SS1 fixed-head coupé offered here was purchased from the sale of the Danish Aalholm Automobile Museum Collection in 2012, since when it has been cosmetically restored by the Key Museum. Early SS cars are rare and highly desirable and this example, with its fresh two-tone paintwork, is undeniably handsome. 

    Should the vehicle remain in the UK, local import taxes of 5% will be added to the hammer price.


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