The Fanciest Pre-Jaguar

1939 SS 100 2.5-Litre Roadster by Van den Plas

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

We’ve featured another SS 100 before, but that was the larger-engined 3.5-litre model. This car is actually powered by a 2.7-liter straight-six (even though it’s called a “2.5-litre”) making 102 horsepower.

The SS brand, as we all know, became Jaguar after WWII and the Nazi connection those two letters had. This particular car is thought to be the final 2.5-litre SS 100 chassis built in 1939 and it was purchased by Van den Plas, the Belgian coachbuilder. But war broke out and they weren’t able to do anything with it until after things had settled down, so this car with this fantastic, Figoni-esque body debuted in 1948 at the Brussels Motor Show.

Van den Plas began in Belgium in 1870 and a British arm, Vanden Plas, opened in London in 1917. Jaguar had a long associated with that brand through its British Leyland ownership and beyond. You can see the underlying SS 100 under the added swoopy fenders – the grille and hood line is still intact.

This car arrived in the U.S. in the late 1980s or early 1990s and it was then restored. It still wears that restoration that shows well. It is one-of-one and will cost you a pretty penny. Click here for more info and here for the rest of RM’s lineup.

Update: Sold $1,402,500.

The 6th Austin-Healey Built

1953 Austin-Healey 100 Special Test Car

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | July 12, 2013

1953 Austin-Healey 100 Special Test Car

You’re looking at one of the first Austin-Healeys built. It was the sixth Austin-Healey built and it was one of several pre-production cars that were to be used “testing” on famous race tracks all over Europe. They are referred to as Special Test Cars and, while they look nearly identical to production cars, they were lighter (thanks to a lot of aluminium) and faster on the track. Only four Special Test Cars were built. The first three were eventually road-registered. This car has always remained in race/testing guise.

The engine began life in Austin’s “experimental shop.” The 2.7-liter straight-four received a special camshaft, a lighter flywheel and spruced up carburetors. Power was more than the production car’s 90 horses – it was rated at 103 for Le Mans. This car also has a significant competition history:

  • 1953 Mille Miglia – 417th (seriously), DNF (with Bert Hadley and Bertie Mercer – yes, two people named Bert shared this car. The 1950s were a different time)
  • 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans – 12th overall, 2nd in class (with Maurice Gatsonides and Johnny Lockett)

After Le Mans, the car had its appearance changed to that of a road car and was used in testing for the media (although they didn’t know they were testing a lightweight racing special all gussied up to look like a road car). Later, it was used to test new braking systems for future Healey models and it was also used as a personal car by the Healey family. The first private owner acquired the car in 1962.

It passed through many owners before it was restored in the mid-1990s in Australia. That restoration was “refreshed” in 2009 and was painted to look like it did at Le Mans in 1953 – and it’s a wonderful color. This is the only Special Test Car that looks anything like it did in 1953 – it has almost all of its original bodywork and parts. It has never been molested, wrecked or altered. It is super rare and very important in the world of Healeys and it should command it in price with an estimate between $780,000-$1,100,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Bonhams’ Goodwood sale lineup.

Update: Sold $1,186,763.

SS100 Roadster

1938 SS 100 3.5-Litre Roadster

Offered by Bonhams | Brooklands, U.K. | December 3, 2012

Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by William Walmsley and William Lyons – and they built, well, sidecars. 1926 brought coachbuilding into the business. In 1932, they introduced their own car, the SS I and in 1934 Lyons founded SS Cars Ltd to continue the line of sports cars.

The SS 100 was introduced in 1936 and was nicknamed “Jaguar” by Lyons. The 100 referred the car’s capability to hit or exceed 100 mph. The engine was originally a 2.5-liter unit, but in 1938 a new 3.5-liter straight-six was introduced, making 125 horsepower. These cars were sporting: racking up victories around the U.K. and continental Europe. It’s one of the fastest, best-handling cars of the era.

The styling is superb and this one, in light green metallic, looks stunning. Only 116 3.5-liter cars were made and they command a price premium, with an estimate on this car for between $320,000-$400,000. The model lasted through 1940 and in 1945, the company changed its name to Jaguar, mostly because the initials “SS” had a much more sinister connotation thanks to the Second World War. For more information on this car, click here. And for the rest of Bonhams lineup at Mercedes-Benz World Brooklands, click here.

Update: Sold $402,800.