This was William Lyons's first complete car. After having offered special bodies on chassis from other manufacturers since 1927, by 1931 Lyons wanted to become a car maker. He negotiated a deal with the Standard Motor Company who would supply a new special chassis, unique to Lyons's Swallow company, as well as engines and other components. The result was the SSI car, launched in October 1931 in time for the London Motor Show, together with the smaller companion model called the SSII.
Lyons had wanted to build the car as low as possible, but when he was struck down with appendicitis during the development period, his partner William Walmsley raised the roof of the prototype, to provide adequate headroom! The result was still a striking looking car, the height of fashion at the time. The close-fitting helmet wings were a unique feature, found only on the first year's production of 500 cars. Similarly, the chassis which went above the rear axle, was found only on this batch of cars. The 1933 models featured an underslung chassis, and flowing wing lines.
Priced at £310 with the 2 litre 16hp engine, the SSI was labelled as 'the car with the £1000 look', and offered a top speed of 75mph (120km/h). A bigger 20hp engine was available at extra cost. What did the initials SS really mean? Since Lyons had earlier used an 'SS' badge on the Swallow-bodied Standard, we may speculate that these initials were still supposed to mean Standard Swallow, or perhaps Swallow Special.
This car was originally delivered through Henlys in London and was subsequently owned by an Italian Princess who took it to the USA with her. It was re-discovered by a leading collector, who later sold it to the JDHT. After its return to England, it was restored by the SS specialist David Davenport to its original condition.
Registration mark: not road registered
Chassis number: 135248
Owner: Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
Inventory number: 140/J.84
(bought in 2003 with the aid of a grant from the PRISM fund)