SS 1: The Original Jaguar

The SS 1 shown in this post goes back to the earliest days of Jaguar. But to go back further Jaguar didn’t even build cars.   The company, originally named Swallow Sidecars, made exactly that – sidecars for motorcycles.  The Swallow Sidecars built motorcycle sidecars from 1920 to 1939.

In 1927 Swallow Sidecars started another business, Swallow Motorcars, which modified cars such as the Austin Seven, Fiat, Standard, and Wolseley.  This phase of the business lasted to 1933.  In 1933 Swallow Sidecars started to make their own car the SS 1.  The SS 1 was made from 1933 to 1936.  The car shown in this post is a 1934 model.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (1)

1934 SS 1

One trait of the early “Jaguar” cars that comes to my mind is the large headlights.  The headlights on this car do not completely fill the headlight pods.  I suspect that this is due to the difficulty of finding oversize headlights, but perhaps there are some legal issues here in the USA as well.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (6)

The SS 1 Has Rear-Hinged “Suicide” Doors

The SS 1 was available in three body styles:

  • Fixed Head Coupe
  • Tourer
  • Saloon

In September 1932, a SS 1 appeared on the cover of “The Autocar” magazine.  This was a great publicity move.  The cover shot featured the long wheel base and low-slung lines of the SS 1.  I suspect that many automotive enthusiasts began to save up for the 310 Pound Sterling that was the selling price for the 1932 Fixed Head Coupe shown on the cover of this magazine.

SS 1 Autocar Cover

SS 1 On The Cover Of The September 30, 1932 Autocar Magazine

Initially the base engine in the SS 1 was a 2054cc side-valve or “flathead” engine that produced 48 horsepower at 3,600 rpm.  A larger 2552cc engine that produced 62 horsepower was also available.  These early cars were based on the Standard Motor Company’s engines and transmissions.  After World War II, the Standard Motor Company acquired Triumph. Towards the end of the SS 1 availability the smaller engine was increased to 2,143cc and the larger engine became 2,663cc.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (4)

The SS 1 Had Modest Rally Success

The SS 1 did take part in several major rallies of that era, with some success.  An SS 1 driven by H. Lantlin with the 2,054cc engine finished second in the 1932 Ulster Rally.  In the 1933 Royal Scottish Automobile Club Rally Douglas Clease finished 6th Overall and 1st in class.. In 1934 Clease along with Charles Needham and Sydney Light finished 3rd in the team class competition at the Alpine International Trial.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (5)

The Trunk Has A Leather Cover

The trunk has what appears to be a leather cover.  I am not sure why the car would have this special cover.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (3)

Note That This SS 1 Model Has Right-Hand Drive

The dash of the SS 1 provides the driver with a great deal of information.  Swallow Sidecars did build and export cars for the American market, but this particular car, with its right-hand-drive steering,  appears to have been imported from England sometime after it was built.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (7)

Having The Convertible Top Is Nice On The Tourer

The Fixed-Head Coupe version of the SS 1, as shown on the cover of the Autocar magazine has some very nice lines, but having the ability to drive the car with an open top is persuasive as well.  I find it difficult to determine which would be a better car to own. I suppose that it is good that I could not afford either one; therefore I don’t have to choose.

Jaguar SS-1 Tourer 1934 (2)

The SS 1 Was The First In A Very Impressive Line Of Cars

In 1935, the Swallow Sidecars company first started to use the name Jaguar.  I have read somewhere that in the late 1030s in England the name “SS” had already begun to generate a negative response due to political changes in Germany at that time.  The Swallow Sidecars growing interest in performance cars lead to the development of the SS 100 which really got Jaguar started on their legendary range of performance cars.  These cars can all be traced back to the SS 1.

If you have any comments on this post then leave a comment below or send me a private email at: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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2 Responses to SS 1: The Original Jaguar

  1. Ross W. Lovell says:

    Some folk lore here.

    SS stood for Standard Swallow, there was a logo depicting this, though when Lyons talked to prospective buyers and loan officers it was sometimes changed to Swallow Sports. The logo tells the real story.

    SS1’s used Standard engines. There were both 16 and 20 taxable horsepower examples available early on, it was not a later year option.

    Those headlights likely came off a later car, as it was in the late 40’s early 50’s that the US mandated that conversion to sealed beams for fear that the Lucas products, especially the P100’s of the MKIV were too bright for use in the States. SS1’s had Lucas QKV496’s for headlights

    There is a fair bit wrong though some of it minor, with this car. I was impressed with it. The gauges and headlights along with those VW signal lights. The big issue was this car had a latter OHV engine from a MKIV/V.

    SS did make a version of this with their new OHV engine sometime late in ’35. SS Cars dropped the “1” and just called this an SS Tourer, not many made and they were only offered in 2.5 liter displacement.

    I own a SS1 with a factory shortened wheelbase, in the process of a very comprehensive restoration, though maybe not if I go with hydraulic instead of cable operated brakes. The shortened wheelbase, made the car a true sports car as there is no plus two seating. It also wears two hinge cut down doors, rear mounted twin spares and a vertical fuel tank, instead of the horizontal unit this one uses.

    Would have sent picture, but this doesn’t allow one.

    Still looking for a correct era Flathead, though a 2.5 and a 3.5 OHV are sitting in my shop just in case. Most likely looking at $7-10K for a “rebuildable” core.

    I’m on FB as Robert William Lovell and my e-mail is

    • Hi Ross,
      I sent you a private email so that you can send me a photo of your SS1 by return email. I’d love to see it! I also sent you a couple of photos that I took of a Standard Swallow that I saw in a museum in Mullhouse, France.
      Steve McKelvie

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