1938 Jaguar SS 2 1/2 Litre Drophead Coupe

Before Jaguar was called Jaguar, the company founded by William Walmsley and William Lyons had several changes of identity. Lyons and Walmsley founded Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922 to produce high quality and distinctly stylish motorcycle sidecars. Much of the creative energy came from Lyons, whose keen sense of style helped drive Swallow Sidecar forward. Soon, customers wanted more, and Swallow moved into the coachbuilding business, creating gorgeous bodies for the vastly popular Austin 7, as well as larger cars like the Wolseley Hornet. By the mid-1930s, SS Cars, Ltd was a full-fledged marque, producing stylish, high-performance saloons and tourers. By 1935, Walmsley departed the company, and the Jaguar name first appeared as a model designation for a four-door sports saloon with a 2,663 cc engine supplied by Standard and modified to produce 104 horsepower. The engine modifications by Harry Weslake and William Heynes resulted in 100-mph performance and galvanized the company’s sporting reputation. When naming SS’s most recent and most potent creation, William Lyons stated, “I immediately pounced on Jaguar as it had an exciting sound to me.” By 1943, the company made one final transition, officially dropping the SS moniker in favor of Jaguar, since “SS” now had a particularly negative connotation in the aftermath of World War II.

Living up to its evocative name, the SS Jaguar was a thrill to drive. Sporting a powerful, twin-carbureted, 2,663 cc 6-cylinder engine fitted in an agile 120-inch chassis, the SS Jaguar was a superb driver’s car. In 1937, SS Cars introduced a companion to the roadster and saloon. The Drophead Coupe combined the best of its siblings with luxurious trimmings and a 3-position convertible top, blending the enjoyment of an open roadster and the elegance and comfort of the saloon.

We are pleased to present this superb SS Jaguar 2 ½ Litre Drophead, one of 20 known survivors from a total production of approximately 270 cars. This gorgeous prewar SS has the distinction of Full Classic status with the Classic Car Club of America, making it eligible for some of the most prestigious and most enjoyable classic car events in the country. According to the Jaguar heritage certificate, chassis 46037 was completed in June 1938, destined for the home market. It was sold through dealer Glovers of Ripon in Yorkshire to a Mrs. A. Sidi, although little else of the early history is documented. The recent history picks up in 2001, when a Jaguar enthusiast, collector, and restorer acquired the car and proceeded to treat it to a ground-up, nut-and-bolt restoration. The project spanned several years, between 2001 and 2005, with detailing, service, and concours prep work continuing through today. The owner selected a striking color combination of two-tone black with French gray side panels and wheels, accented by a gorgeous dark red leather interior. A large binder includes photos and receipts from the restoration, as well as an impressive stack of JCNA Concours judging sheets, spanning at least ten years.

Since the restoration, it traded hands once, and the most recent owner continued to cherish and enjoy the car to the fullest. This SS Jaguar appeared at numerous concours and club events around the country in the past ten years. Highlights include appearances at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours, Milwaukee Masterpiece in 2010 and 2013, Santa Fe Concourso in 2011, Cars on Kiawah 2017 (People’s Choice and 1st in Class), and the 2018 Hilton Head Concours where it earned a Palmetto Award. In JCNA concours competition, the car scored consistent high 99-point finishes, with multiple 100-point scores, including one at the 2015 Challenge Championship, where it earned Best in Class.

Through regular care and maintenance, the previous owners have ensured this SS Drophead remains in superb condition. The restoration still looks remarkably fresh, with only a few indications of use visible on the engine and undercarriage. Paint and brightwork quality is excellent, and the car is equally suited for show or touring. Details include beautiful chrome Lucas P100 headlamps, twin Lucas horns, and painted wire wheels shod with whitewall Firestone tires. Red leather upholstery adds a pop of color and completes the striking presentation. As with the exterior, the soft trim is superb and faithful to factory specifications. The woodwork is also finished to a high standard, along with the original instruments and controls. This car features the full complement of original tools, arranged correctly in the green-flocked compartment built-in to the boot lid. The Heritage Certificate verifies the 2 ½ -litre engine as the original unit, and it is tidy and presented with correct finishes and fittings. The chassis is also well detailed, and shows signs of light use since the restoration, but remains in excellent order.

Equally at home on the show field as it is on long drives through the countryside, this versatile and elegant motorcar offers both performance and style in abundance. The opportunity to acquire a prewar SS Jaguar does not present itself often, and this lovely example is one of the best of the breed.


Offers welcome and trades considered



Stock number 6950

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