Classic & Sports Car, Richard Heseltine August 2000
"I had to look underneath to see if it was the real thing." says one interested onlooker of Suffolk Sportscars impeccably turned out SS100 Jaguar facsimile.No great surprise as it's dimensionally accurate to the point that many parts are interchangeable with the original. All too often, SS replica's are over embellished with chromed everything, proportionally challenged by stubby 15in wheels parodying the car's good looks - witness the Panther J72. No such problems here as, from the beautifully crafted radiator cowling to the custom-made luggage rack, it looks every inch the caddish pre-war roadster. Only the dummy brake covers and badging give the game away. Negotiate the driver's suicide door and the cockpit doesn't let the side down. It's wall to wall Connolly hide and inch-deep Wilton carpeting: even the instruments have the correct silver faces, fronted by a period-looking four-spoked wheel.
The cabin reeks of quality and thoughtful design, although the narrow thrones offer little in the way of support. Turn the ignition key, prime the throttle a little and the 4.2litre straight six erupts on pressing the starter button. Robber from an XJ6 - along with the rest of the running gear - it makes a suitably bluff bark through the rear pipes. Select first on the wand-like lever, ease the light clutch and the car takes off with a pace at odds with its pre-war pretensions.
The big 'six' digs deeply from little more than tick over and the surge remains strong thereafter without a moment's hesitancy.Build up of momentum is beautifully sustained with instant throttle response regardless of gear, such is the engine's torque. According to Suffolk boss Roger Williams, you can: "Grab the car by the scruff of the neck and drift it beautifully, steering as much of the throttle as the wheel."
As a former historic ace in Listers and assorted Formula Juniors (and deviser of the much-missed Willhire 24-hour race), he should know but, somehow, you feel the need to drive it with a little more decorum. Should the rock ape in you rise to the surface, it's more than up to the task.
On the track, the car isn't upset by the camber changes or surface imperfections, despite the relative lack of grip from the skinny boots. Ride is a touch soft but undeniably sporting. Through Chobham's wide right-left S-bend, there's mild oversteer on entry that works to the drivers advantage, helping you to retain a tight line through the sequence although the driver's seat fails to rein you in, causing the pilot to slide around. The steering is wonderfully light, even at manoeuvring speeds, and always informative, only heightening the feeling of intimacy.
This isn't an out-and-out sports car - it's too comfortable; almost too refined for that. It's a fast grand tourer, ideal for travelling long distances in a relaxing manner, the view down the louvered alloy bonnet a rare treat. You simply cannot fault the quality of his car as a driving experience or for its build standards. It doesn't feel or ride like an old car, which to some punters is a positive bonus, so if you're after vintage thrills, look elsewhere. And how much will this vision of gorgeousness set you back? You could build your own upwards of £22,000 which surely makes a few bruised knuckles a small price.