by Joseph Scott
This one-off Graber-bodied 1938 SS Jaguar 3.5 litre FHC (Fixed Head Coupe) is a stunning example of a custom car that won a few prestigious awards.
This iconic Jaguar has won awards all over the country at national concours events, but had never been able to win Best of Show. This honour was finally taken in 2012 at the Concours d ’Elegance at Hilton Head and it was well deserved for such a beautiful car. The 1938 SS was never offered as a FHC, but Hermann Graber (Switzerland Based Coachbuilder) was commissioned by Monsieur Michel Dionisotti of Geneva to build this fixed-head two door 1933 Jaguar coupe. These touring cars were already a sought after car, but became a near work of art.
The car has a straight-six overhead valve 125 horsepower engine with a four-speed gearbox, which is much more than the original setup offered. The car was originally black with gray leather interior, but was restored in an exquisite royal blue with red leather and upon completion it immediately began winning awards. Gerald and Kathy Nell (Jaguar collectors from Illinois) had the car restored in 1990 from just parts in boxes. The Nell’s had RM restore the car to their wishes. Shortly after completion in 1994, the car placed third in the Jaguar class at the Pebble Beach Concours d ‘Elegance and won the Designers Choice Award at the Meadow Brook Concours d ‘Elegance that same year.
After Mr. Nell passed in 2006 the car was sold at RM’s Monterey for a reported $385,000 in 2010. The Jaguar changed hands again shortly after that and the Ricciardelli family bought it and continued to show the vehicle at Amelia Island and Hilton Head’s Concours events. Finally in 2012 the Jaguar took home the prestigious award of “Best of Show” at the Hilton Head Island Concours d ‘Elegance. The car impressed the judges and the crowds with its stunning looks and elegant styling.
This car surrounds you with an air of sophistication that takes you back in time and transports you into an era of days gone by. Seeing it makes me want to grab an old derby hat and a pipe and go for a Sunday drive.
It’s great to see cars like this resurrected from mere boxes to the present condition where all the world can see and appreciate its beauty. This car is often regarded as the most distinctive pre-war coachbuilt Jaguar and you can see why as you gaze at the craftsmanship in this vehicle. Let’s hope this car is still traveling the show circuit today.
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