🇬🇧 1948 Jaguar ‘Mark IV’ 3½ Litre Drophead Coupé
The name ‘Jaguar’ was first used by SS Cars Ltd in 1936 to denote its new high-performance sports model, the SS100; company founder William Lyons later recalled: ‘I immediately pounced on Jaguar as it had an exciting sound to me.’
‘SS’ originally stood for the Swallow Sidecar & Coachbuilding Company, which had been founded in Blackpool, England by William Walmsley. The company branched out into motor manufacture in 1926, its first major success being an attractive sports saloon on the Austin Seven chassis, the design being the work of Walmsley’s partner, one William Lyons. Relocation to Coventry followed and the Swallow range expanded to include models on Morris Cowley, Wolseley Hornet and Standard Sixteen chassis. Marque status arrived in October 1931 with the launch of the SS1, the chassis of which was supplied exclusively to Swallow by Standard, who also provided the six-cylinder sidevalve engine and four-speed gearbox. Although unspectacular in performance, the SS1 went some way towards establishing the pattern for future Jaguars, combining sporting good looks with a better-than-average specification and all at a bargain price. (‘Jaguar’ would be adopted as the marque name in March 1945, ‘SS’ having by then acquired a somewhat tarnished reputation).
When peace came some six months later, the newly renamed Jaguar Cars, like the majority of Britain’s motor manufacturers, commenced post-war production with a range of pre-war designs, albeit with some minor improvements. Essentially stopgap models pending the arrival of an entirely new generation of Jaguars, these comprised the compact 1½-Litre and the 2½/3½-Litre model, retrospectively known as the ‘Mark IV’, which still enjoyed an enviable reputation for strong performance, good road manners and well appointed interiors.
Top the Mark IV range was the decidedly voluptuous 3½-Litre Drophead Coupé, a full five seater that boasted an ingenious three-position hood giving occupants the choice of open, closed or coupé de ville motoring. Utilising the same all-steel body construction as its late 1930s SS Jaguar forebear, the newcomer appeared even more svelte thanks to a revised hypoid bevel rear axle that allowed the floor to be lowered by two inches.
Produced from 1945 to 1949, Jaguar’s 3½ Litre (referred to today as the Mark IV) was offered as either a sports saloon or a traditional Drophead Coupe with a three position convertible top. Only 664 Drophead Coupes were produced with 407 of them being left-hand drive export models. As stunning of a design today as it was then, the Jaguar Mark IV offers pre-war British motoring appeal with post-war refined mechanicals. It is no wonder why examples are cherished by collectors and enthusiasts throughout the world.