From the start with a single, rather ungainly looking coupé body in 1931, over the next few years the S.S.I underwent considerable development and became available with several different body styles. William Lyons was not particularly happy with the style of the original car, and after production of only one year, the 1933 models acquired a new chassis, underslung at the rear, long flowing wings, and a lower roof line. An alternative body in the shape of an open four-seater tourer was also offered.
The 1934 S.S.I models had larger engines, although still rated at 16 or 20hp for taxation, and a saloon body became available, with rear side windows instead of the blind rear quarters. Further models were added to the 1935 range – a drophead coupé, the now legendary S.S.90 open two-seater sports car, and the Airline saloon.
Like many other cars of the period, the Airline paid lip service to the then current fashion of streamlining, and also reflected the Art Deco style. It has been said that William Lyons - stylist as well as company director - did not personally like the model, and the Airline has been attributed to the influence of William Walmsley, Lyons's original partner who would soon leave the Company. Whatever, it is without doubt the most striking of all the different S.S.I body styles, with many unique features, such as the twin side-mounted spare wheels in the front wings.
The Airline was only in production for a period of little more than one year from late 1934 to 1936 during which time 626 were produced, out of the total of 4250 S.S.I cars of all types. The price was initially £360 for the 16hp model and for £5 extra you got the bigger 20hp engine, although these prices were reduced by £20 for the 1936 season.
Registration mark: AWR 564 (7 March 1935)
Chassis number: 248916
Owner: The Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust
Inventory number: 026/J.03
(Purchased in 1994 with the aid of a grant from the PRISM fund)