02mBLlcD 1935 Jaguar SS1 ‘Airline Coupe 9
1935 Jaguar SS1 ‘Airline Coupe 9

Gorgeous ‘Jag’ goes to auction after 77 years

Riley Riley

Gotta like an old Jag.

Kevin Taylor must have really like his because he hung on to it for 55 years and it has been in the same family for 77 years.

The gorgeous 1935 Swallow (Jaguar) SS1 ‘Airline’ Coupe is thought to be the only one of its kind in Australia.

Kevin passed away a few years ago, but the family’s longterm ownership must be something of a record.

To put the car in perspective, the company was originally named the Swallow Sidecar Company and built sidecars for motorcycles.

It was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley, before becoming S.S. Cars Ltd in 1934 and eventually Jaguar Cars in 1945.

autocar cover
In September, 1932 an SS1 appeared on the cover of “The Autocar” magazine.


Originally sold under the Swallow brand, the SSI Airline was produced for a period of just two years, from 1934 to 1936.

The cars were noted for their styling and low cost rather than outright performance. 

The coupe was a real traffic stopper.

Like many cars of the period, the styling was heavily influenced by the then current fashion of streamlining and this is reflected in the Art Deco finish.

It is reported that stylist and company director William Lyons was not a huge fan of the SS1.

The Airline design has instead been attributed to the influence of Lyons’s partner William Walmsley.

It is without doubt the most striking of all the SS1 body styles, with many unique features such as the twin, wing-mounted spare wheels.

From the beginning, in 1931, with a single, rather ungainly looking coupe-shaped body, the SS1 became available with several different body styles over the next few years.

The 1933 models acquired a new chassis, under-slung at the rear, with long flowing fenders and a lower roof line.

An alternative body in the shape of an open, four-seat tourer was also offered.

The 1934 SS1 models had larger engines, while further models were added in 1935, including a drophead coupe, the now legendary SS90 open two-seater sports car — and the Airline coupe.

The 2.5-litre Saloon was unveiled on the Swallow Sidecar stand at London Motor Show in October 1935, with a revised version of the overhead-valve engine that was mated to an uprated Standard synchromesh gearbox.

Engineer William Heynes developed the new model, revamping the existing SS1 chassis frame with perimeter members, boxed-in for added rigidity, improved damping and the latest Girling hydraulic brakes.

Badged as a Jaguar for the first time, the beautifully proportioned SS1’s elegant coachwork featured an integrated boot complete with a tray of tools — the start of a long-standing Jaguar tradition.

Only 614 SS1 Airlines were produced, out of a total 4254 SSI cars of all types.

With its sweeping wingline and high-class cabin, the Airline by this stage had established itself as a vehicle to rival the best that Alvis and Bentley could offer.

According to the documentation, this particular car was sold new in Derby, UK in May, 1935.

Its first Australian owner was Mr J.S. McCarthy of Redfern in Sydney.

Kevin Taylor purchased the car in July, 1946 from a used car yard in Elizabeth St, Melbourne, at the age of 24.

It passed through a number of hands during the Second World World before Kevin bought it.

Being a machinist he was able to keep the car going and drove it for many years which included a number of interstate trips.

After almost 20 years of continuous service the gorgeous Airline was benched as family and life intervened, before work began on a full restoration after an 11-year hiatus around 1980.

The SS1 Airline Coupe was completely rebuilt and restored to factory specifications.

Kevin tracked down many original and rare parts that had gone missing during its earliest days here.

He did all the mechanical refurbishment himself, including reconditioning the engine, while a new timber frame was made and the bodywork, preparation, paint, and trim were handed over to specialists.

Kevin then did the final assembly.

Originally leaving the factory in black and silver, it is now presented in bright red (replacing a slightly darker hue) with pale yellow wheels.

It looks simply stunning, like the restoration was done last week — not 40 odd years ago.

The tan leather trim and beige carpets are just as good, while the interior has been restored to factory specifications after earlier owners made modifications.

Its chrome work gleams, including a pair of second-hand headlights bought in London and the world “immaculate” somehow seems inadequate a description.

Significantly, the engine runs its original RAG carburettors (most SS cars have been converted to SUs) and recent engine work has included a replacement cylinder head and gasket, and re-seated valves.

The SS1 Airline comes with photos of its display at Motorclassica (where it was shown twice), as well as various correspondence from Kevin outlining its history and work done.

There’s also a copy of a magazine feature on the car, a copy of the owner’s manual and, rarest of all — a genuine owner’s manual which is believed to be the last remaining original.

Previously on Victorian club registration, the 1935 SS1 Airline Coupe is being offered for sale unregistered.

Auctioneers Shannons estimate the value of the car at between $270,000 and $290,000 and it will go to auction on February 21.


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