A collection of 12 historically significant Jaguars including the marque’s very first sports car have been put up for sale having never before been offered on the open market.
The unique 1935 Jaguar SS90 Prototype (above) was hand-crafted by the factory on an SS1 chassis that had been shortened by 15in, and effectively launched the marque’s motorsport ambitions.
It’s joined in the sale by the first E-type ever seen by the public and by a legendary C-type that was thought lost, in addition to nine other Big Cats spanning five decades of automotive history.
All are part of a collection owned by Switzerland-based Dr Christian Jenny that’s being offered, individually, for sale via Pendine Historic Cars.
The prototype SS90 stands out as something special even in this company. The car – chassis number 248436 – was revealed by Sir William Lyons to the motoring press in Coventry on 15 March 1935, months before the first SS Jaguar broke cover.
Later that year it was campaigned on the 1935 RAC Rally and also claimed a third-in-class finish at the Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in the hands of Brian Lewis, powered by a sidevalve 2.6-litre ‘six’ which helped it to a 90mph top speed.
The youngest of the three E-types in the collection is a close second behind it in terms of importance: this fixed-head coupé was the star of Jaguar’s Geneva show stand when the model was launched in 1961.
Although it started life as a roadster chassis, the car was taken from the Experimental Department at Browns Lane and prepared for the Geneva reveal.
One of a trio of E-types taken to the Swiss event, chassis number 885005 was the first example seen in public when it was unveiled to the press and VIP guests at the Parc des Eaux-Vives on 15 March 1961.
Two months on it was registered for road use, also in Switzerland, at which point it disappeared from view until 1999, when it was bought by an administrator at the University of Lausanne. It later moved to its current home and has recently enjoyed a careful restoration.
Also new to the market is the car known as ‘the lost C-type’ – and this might have the most fascinating (and convoluted) history of all 12.
Chassis XKC 023 was, for over three decades, the only one of the 53 C-types built that wasn’t accounted for.
While other examples of the model were winning Le Mans, this one was instead delivered new to an importer in Los Angeles, before going to Seattle dealer Joe Henderson.
Henderson wasn’t averse to letting his customers race it, and Hollywood scriptwriter Jack Douglas was one who tried it out. Around this time it was given a couple of ‘upgrades’ in the form of a Hillborn constant-flow fuel injection system and an XK140 head with larger valves.
Douglas’ race mechanic Ces Critchlow subsequently bought it and, following damage sustained on track, it also gained a glassfibre Devin body in 1957.
After a few further changes in ownership, it went to one Frank Schierenbeck in 1962. Not wanting to lose it in divorce proceedings, he squirelled it away for 30 years, much to the dismay of Jaguar enthusiasts who wondered where it was.
Fortunately it emerged in 1997 and it’s now for sale again, accompanied by an FIA Heritage Certificate; it also carries Jaguar test driver Norman Dewis’ signature inside the door.
To underline the jaw-dropping nature of this collection, also included are two XK120 Roadsters (one of which is alloy-bodied), an XK140 SE Roadster, an XK150 3.8 S Roadster and a pair of droptop E-types.
Oh, and there are also two SS100s and the 1935 SS90 ‘Captain Black’ – the first production sports car sold by the factory.
That’s quite a haul and all are being offered, individually, for sale at Bicester Heritage-based Pendine.
“This is without a doubt one of the most impressive and important collections of Jaguars in the world,” said James Mitchell, founder of Pendine Historic Cars.
“Each car in the collection represents a key milestone through the marque’s early history. Not only have some of these incredible cars played important roles in automotive cultural history, but they are also among the best examples in the world.”
If you’re lucky enough to have the wherewithal to buy one of these, prices are available on request from Mitchell.
Images: Michael Zumbrunn