Finishing lines – Jaguar SS entries on the Alpine Rally, 1934. Ian Appleyard’s successes on the Alpine Rally between 1950 and 1953 forever linked Jaguar’s association with the event to his famous cream XK 120, registered NUB 120.
Yet the company’s history on the rally stretches back to the Thirties when it was known as S.S. Cars Ltd. Although its foray into car manufacturing was fledgling, motorsport was still important to the Foleshill-based firm and it first entered the rally in 1933. Of the four factory cars that took part, two finished.
In 1934, it was back with three S.S.1 Tourers, although two of those cars were privately owned with works backing. Numbers were augmented with a privately entered S.S.1 and S.S.2 (the latter driven by well-known racing driver of the era, Norman Black). This image from Jaguar Heritage’s archive was taken just before the rally and shows the five cars at the company’s Foleshill factory (Black’s S.S.2 is closest to the camera).
During the first three days of the rally (which passes through France, Italy and into Switzerland), the cars performed well, but on Italy’s notorious Stelvio Pass they didn’t have the power for its steep climb and 48 corners. Disaster then struck Sydney Light in car 48 on a dusty road to Bassano del Grappa when his S.S.1 went off the road due to a puncture, damaging the car. On the fifth day, Norman Black and his co-driver, Reuben Harveyson, missed their morning call and made no attempt to continue the rally in their S.S.2 Tourer. The rest of the S.S. team finally reached the finish at Munich and, despite the setbacks, had scored enough points to take the coveted Silver-Gilt Alpine Plaque and third place in the 2.0- to 3.0-litre group.