Gotta love an old Jag.
Kevin Taylor must have really liked his because he hung on to it for 55 years and it has
been in the same family for 77 years.
The gorgeous 1935 Swallow (Jaguar) SS1 ‘Airline’ Coupe is thought to be one of just a
handful in Australia. Kevin passed away a few years ago, but it must stand as something
of a record.
To put the car in perspective, the company was originally named the Swallow Sidecar
Company and built sidecars for motorcycles. It was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and
William Walmsley, becoming S.S. Cars Ltd in 1934, before eventually coming to be Jaguar
Cars in 1945. In September, 1932 an SS1 appeared on the cover of “The Autocar”
Originally sold under the Swallow brand, the SSI Airline was produced for a period of just
two years, from 1934 to 1936. The cars were noted for their styling and low cost rather
than outright performance. Like many cars of the period, the style was heavily influenced
by the then current fashion of streamlining and it is reflected in the Art Deco style.
It is reported that stylist and company director William Lyons was not a huge fan of the
The Airline design has instead been attributed to the influence of Lyons’s partner William
Walmsley. It is without doubt the most striking of all the SS1 body styles, with many unique
features such as the twin wing mounted spare wheels.
From the beginning, in 1931, with a single, rather ungainly looking coupe-shaped body,
the SS1 became available with several different body styles over the next few years.
The 1933 models acquired a new chassis, under-slung at the rear, with long flowing
fenders and a lower roof line.
An alternative body in the shape of an open, four-seat tourer was also offered. The 1934
SS1 models had larger engines, while further models were added in 1935, including a
drophead coupe, the now legendary SS90 open two-seater sports car – and the Airline
The 2.5 litre Saloon was unveiled on the Swallow Sidecar stand at the London Motor
Show in October 1935, with a revised version of the overhead-valve engine mated to an
uprated Standard synchromesh gearbox.
Engineer William Heynes developed the new model, revamping the existing SS1 chassis
frame with perimeter members boxed-in for added rigidity, improved damping and the
latest Girling hydraulic brakes.
Badged as a Jaguar for the first time, the beautifully proportioned SS1’s elegant
coachwork featured an integrated boot complete with a tray of tools, the start of a long-
standing Jaguar tradition.
Only 614 SS1 Airlines were produced, out of a total 4254 SSI cars of all types.
The SS1 was originally dispatched from the Swallow factory in July, 1935. Kevin Taylor
purchased the car in July, 1946 from a used car yard in Elizabeth St, Melbourne, at the
age of 24.
Being a machinist and able to keep the car going and drove it for many years which
included a number of interstate trips.
After almost 20 years of continuous service the gorgeous Airline was benched as family
and life intervened, before work began on a full restoration after an 11-year hiatus around
The SS1 Airline Coupe was completely rebuilt and restored to factory specifications.
Kevin tracked down many original and rare parts that had gone missing during its earliest
He did all the mechanical refurbishment himself, including reconditioning the engine, while
a new timber frame was made and the bodywork, preparation, paint, and trim were handed
over to specialists. Kevin then did the final assembly.
Originally leaving the factory in black and silver, it is now presented in bright red (replacing
a slightly darker hue) with pale yellow wheels.
It looks simply stunning, like the restoration was done last week — not 40 odd years ago.
The tan leather trim and beige carpets are just as good, while the interior has been
restored to factory specifications after earlier owners made modifications.
Its chrome work gleams, including a pair of second-hand headlights bought in London and
the world “immaculate” somehow seems inadequate a description.
Significantly, the engine runs its original RAG carburettors (most SS cars have been
converted to SUs) and recent engine work has included a replacement cylinder head and
gasket, and re-seated valves.
The SS1 Airline comes with photos of its display at Motorclassica (where it was shown
twice), as well as various correspondence from Kevin outlining its history and work done.
There’s also a copy of a magazine feature on the car, a copy of the owner’s manual and,
rarest of all — a genuine owner’s manual which is believed to be the last remaining original.
Previously on Victorian club registration, the 1935 SS1 Airline Coupe is being offered for
sale unregistered. Auctioneers Shannons estimate the car has a value of between
$270,000 and $290,000 and it will go to auction on February 21.