Unusual Jaguar seen at the Swiss Classic British Car Meeting
I spotted this yesterday at the Swiss Classic British Car Meeting in Morges. From the French text on the car I think it was created around a Jaguar SS/100 sometime in the late 40's.
Jaguar or whatever it is, it obviously deserves further investigation. What can you tell us?
Looking like it would have been made by a one-off quality coachbuilder and therefore it would have merited a quality chassis - ie Jaguar - so now you have given us a tease we need to know more.
Like who, where, when and how?
As I mentioned my French isn't great and the info stuck to the car was all in French...so maybe if anyone else was there or knows the car maybe they can add to the thread.
I've attached a crop of the info stuck to the car and tried my best to translate it...it's not perfect but it's a little more information.
"A Funny Jaguar
Among the cars that participated in the magnefiques Concouurs d'Elegance Cannes in the years 1945-1955, there is one that is like no other. After research, we have obtained the following information.
This is a Jaguar 3L 5.6 cylinders fitted at the request of the owner of a compressor, If it is rare to find a Jaguar bodied outside the factory, it is even rarer to see Munise a compressor that significantly increase the performance of this car already.
Remember that these large Jagiar were animated by the same engine that dervires SS/100. We do not know to this day, the name of the coachbuilder who created this convertible in cream with a garnet leather interior .
The photograph shows Mr and Mrs Piatti, of Geneva, presenting this car April 10, 1947 in Cannes. If any of our readers possesses some information on this vehicle, we thank us know...
We continue research"
I love a good detective story, this one should get a few heads scratching. The reference to compressor is just the French term for supercharger and likewise 'munise' is probably a mis-spelled munis, the French word meaning equipped. The reference to the engine says it is a 3.5 litre six of the type used in the SS100 but given that the same motor was used in the more common sedan both pre and post war, and of course the Mk V I would guess the proportions of this car suggest that is was based on one of the latter. The clues regarding the original owners being from Geneva are the best lead. Of the better known Swiss coachbuilders, Beutler, Graber, Langenthal were all prolific, while Ghia Aigle did not start up until 1948. Gangloff were already history by that time, but there was a Willy Bernath operating out of La Chaux De Fonds between 1945 and '47 who is known to have built cabriolet bodies on various chassis including Jaguar. I would suggest the owners start their enquiries there (should they be reading this).
Otherwise, there many small firms around Geneva at the time of which little is known; Faurax, Heber, Moret, Secheron and others.
Keep us informed if you hear any more about it.
Willy Bernath started his business in La Chaux de Fonds (home of Girard Perregaux, Breitling and TAG Heuer as well as Louis Chevrolet’s birthplace) in 1938 at the age of 24 rebodying second hand chassis, whether to modernise older cars or just to reuse damaged ones is not clear.
He had been influenced by the glamorous art deco styles of Figoni & Falaschi and the cars he had seen while studying in the USA. He patented a system of aluminium panelling and designed and built 25 cars in total. As there was a shortage of new cars after the war he made these sporty designs on, among others, Lancia, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo chassis.
A quick Google turned up a few photos.
The best known survivor seems to be the white one based on a 1938 Citroën 11BL. This car was built in 1944 for a Chilean diplomat who never collected it. It was then bought by a Countess de Castillon and by the seventies was in the care of Geneva based collector Jean Tua until it appeared at auction with Osenat of Paris in 2006. Later, in 2011 it was featured in the German magazine Die Welt as being owned by a Dr Kai Desinger of Berlin. There was a claim of only three known survivors, but whether that was three Bernath cars, or three Bernath Citroëns is not clear.
Another creation of which photos exist was based on an Alfa Romeo 6C and I am convinced this Jaguar was designed and built by the same hand.
Hopefully Redranch can make contact with the owners and pass this on. That car is certainly a major contender for the high profile show circuit once restored, and if C&SC can get in touch it would make a great story – maybe Mario Laguna can follow it up, he would be the ideal candidate to investigate further.
Bernath bodied Alfa Romeo 6C - is the NE registration prefix from Neuchatel?
Another Alfa Romeo.
The Citroën as photographed in 2006 above and below;
and this was probably another Citroën.
Hope we can find out more.
ps - I have emailed the Veteran Car Club Romand with further info as the car appears to be in their marquee.
Through a bit of detective style digging I have made contact with the owner, and he confirms it is by Willy Bernath.
I have asked him to keep us up to date on any progress with this rare find.
Thanks Redranch, that was maybe the best discovery yet on this forum!
Chris, you certainly did some detective work...love some of the old photos of similar cars. You can certainly seem similar styling in the front grill.
I love finding things like this, even though I didn't find it as such but it was on show at the Swiss meeting...but thanks for all the hard work tracking it down. I'd love to know what the plan for the car is...maybe it deserves a feature in the magazine?