Shifting into Reverse and 1938 Owners Handbook

(Rob Reilly) #1

I have to laugh at myself today, and you can all laugh with me. Since the SS arrived in January I have not been able to get it into reverse gear. Tried rolling the car, jacking up and turning a wheel, no joy.

Today I took off the trans tunnel and the two bolts that hold the shift lever and round cover to the top cover. Got a surprise answer. You have to PULL UP on the knob to get the lever to go into reverse.

I guess I’m so accustomed to my Mark V and XK120 where you push to the left against a spring that I assumed the SS would be the same. Fatal assumption.

So I got out my photocopy of what I believe is the 1938 Owners Handbook. I say “believe” because the cover and first few and last few pages are missing. It shows the 1938 spare tire tray and the rotary vane type LUVAX shocks which I believe were only used that year before they went to Luvax/Girling piston type. So it must be the right one.

Anyway it describes how to use the sychro gears, but says nothing about how to shift into reverse. I wonder, was this pull up design so common at the time that they felt they didn’t need to describe it?

The good news is it shifts fine and the reverse light switch works. :grin:

(Peter Scott) #2

The old SS gearchange is much nicer than the post war cars. You are not likely to slip into reverse by mistake in the SS unlike the later cars. It also has much shorter travel and so is slicker. Note the difference in fulcrum points that is substantial in the fore and aft direction.


(Ed Nantes) #3

The SS gear lever knob has “ LIFT” next to the ” R” on the shift pattern. And a very distinctively different shaped knob.

(Rob Reilly) #4

Very interesting, I see what you mean.
Are you or anyone else able to send me a pdf or photo of the cover and first and last pages of the '38 handbook?
The first page I have is Driving Hints and the last page I have has Performance Data with brakes on the 2-1/2 Litre and 100.

(Rob Reilly) #5

It came to me with the half a raindrop style knob from the 1950s Jags. The right knob would have saved me a lot of anguish. Does anyone have a picture?

(Ed Nantes) #6

Geoff Asher has just made his last , before retirement, batch of SS gear lever knobs for Simon Whitworth.
They are quite perfect.

(Peter Scott) #7

Not a very good photo I’m afraid and I’m not sure the letters and numbers are quite big enough in the first picture.


here’s couple more that I think are originals…

(Ed Nantes) #8

Here’s one of Geoff’s repros . moulded from an original.

(Roger Payne) #9

See attached - .jpg of 1938 SS Jaguar 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 litre Handbook; there is a totally different handbook for 1-1/2 litre.

There is also a 1938-9 edition, and a 1940 edition which are 100% identical to the pictured 1938, apart from two things only.
The 1938-9 edition has an identical grey paper label with 1938-9 printed on it in lieu of the 1938, with the 1938-9 label simply glued directly over the top of the existing 1938 label. The 1940 edition has the same artwork label but on yellow paper and with 1940 printed on it in lieu of 1938 or 1938-9, and again is simply pasted over the top of the 1938/9 label pasted over the 1938 label. See attached picture of 1940 edition:-

The 1940 label is slightly larger all around than the 1938-9 which in turn is slightly larger than the original 1938 label, so when pasted over, you can just make out the outline of the covered over labels.

Inside, the same.
The original 1938 edition has 1938 printed mid way down/centre of the face/titles-page 1938, with the 1938/9 edition simply having a small 1938-9 errata pasted over the printed 1938, and indeed the 1940 edition now adds a small 1940 errata pasted over the 1938-9 errata.

Otherwise, all 76 pages plus black card cover are identical, and after many yeras collecting/researching, I am unaware of their being any other variations/errata’s/amendments than these three 1938, 1938-9 and 1940 editions.

There is a post-war 1938-9-40 edition, reprinted in 1.10.1948 but quickly identified by deletion of the SS badge, and replaced with JAGUAR - much easier and cheaper to find than an SS Jaguar original handbook.

(Rob Reilly) #10

Thanks friends for the pix of the knob and instruction book covers.
I knew the knob was shaped like a squashed balloon but did not know it had the shift pattern and LIFT.
76 pages! I only have 46 pages. :cry:
Has anyone reproduced the 1938 Instruction Book?
Even a scan would be good.

Interesting that the 3 years are identical contents. This Luvax vane type shock absorber was only used on 858 saloons and 136 DHCs before they went to the piston type front and rear around summer or autumn 1938, and the piston type is not mentioned.

(Peter Scott) #11

I’d like a copy too.

Peter :wink:

(Denis Foxley) #12

I have a reproduction 2½/3½ Litre handbook with the label 1938-9-40 on the front cover. It has “Jaguar”, not “SS Jaguar” on the winged badge, and “Jaguar Cars Limited” on the first page as if it were produced by Jaguar after the war. At the bottom of the Preface page is written:

The Classic Jaguar Association

Westchester, Illinois, USA

Technical Reprint No. 23


It only has 62 pages, compared with 70 pages for the original 1940 1½ Litre one that I have. It is the last few pages which are missing, and on the original these consisted of a “Copy of Guarantee”, a list of SS dealers, and a wiring diagram. The page size is also slightly smaller, but apart from that it appears complete and identical with the original.

Denis Foxley

(Rob Reilly) #13

I posted a query about this 1962 reprint on the CJA website, asking if there are any remaining copies or a master to make new paper or electronic copies, so if there is any response I will let you all know.
Westchester is a suburb of Chicago only a few miles from me, but I believe they are based in California now.

(Roger Payne) #14

OK, having a look at actual Handbooks now, rather than relying on spread-sheets and photos:-

First up, see attached scan of 1938-9 labelled original, which as before is identical to 1938 apart from new 1938-9 label simply stuck over existing 1938 label, with a similar 1"x1/2" 1938-9 errata stuck over printed 1938 in the lower-middle of face-page, or unnumbered p (i) …… (These three original 1938, 1938-9 and 1940 SS Jaguar Instruction Books all have the same 6" x 9-3/4" black-card cover, and are ‘perfect bound’…

There was a factory post-war edition dated irc as being 1.10.48, but more obviously having revised artwork label on front cover with JAGUAR replacing the SS-Wings badge, and now showing 1938-9-40 multiple dateing. I do have a mint example, but cant immediately locate to scan.

Over the years there have been a number of non-factory aftermarket REPRODUCTIONS made of varying quality and accuracy, of which I have three (so possibly more) ……………

  1. As mentioned and described by Denis, the first effort I am aware of was that done by the CJA in 1962, as identified at bottom-right of page (ii).

Good enough effort in its day, a copy of the factory post-war 1.10.48 issue, but only ii + 62 pages, compared with the originals ii + 86p (deleting all the Guarantee, list of Dealers and Wiring Diagram). This reproduction is much smaller at 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" staple-bound booklet, and the front label and internal pages are merely photocopy quality. The cover is a better textured black card. See scan below ….

  1. Next I have, is a grey-card covered stapled booklet still same undersize 5-1/2" x 8-1/2", with embossed into the rear cover 700-6806C Printed in U.S.A. 7-86
    Internally, it has the same photo-copied pages as the 1962 CJA example, clearly with identical stains and marks shown (notably p.31), and still only the same abbreviated ii + 62 pages. (I have to guess this is a 1986 reprint probably still done by CJA, if not identified as such on p (ii))

  2. The next one I have is a much more serious and far better quality reproduction of the 1.10.48 factory original. Still a stapled book of (ii) + 62 pages, but now 6" x 9" with front label now printed, and internal pages now properly printed on shiny/better quality paper, and seemingly based on a much better original, without any staining/marking reproduced, as with the CJA photocopied reproductions. The black card cover is also a better match……………… There is no identifications anywhere as to source/printer apart from I note that I purchased this example new out of USA in Oct 1999. See scan below …………

Now getting back to Rob’s initial advise - his first page is ‘Driving Hints’
This is page 9, so is missing p (i) - (ii) and p.1-8
Rob’s last page he says has ‘Performance Data and Brakes on 2-1/2 litre and ‘100’ Model’
Strange - this actually describes p.7 of the original and reproduction handbooks, and not as expected with the first five sheets missing, p52 of the reproduction covering MILEAGE and MAINTENCE, or p62 of an original covering ACCESSORIES AND EQUIPMENT.

As before, all the original 1938, 1938-9 and 1940 editions are the same, all showing the same ‘Luvax vane type shock absorber’ on page 39, and the same ‘Spare Wheel Housing’ on page 51, as does all the reproductions albeit poor photo reproduction/definition.

I do note there was a loose sheet supplied/available detailing LUVAX PISTON TYPE HYDRAULIC SHOCK ABSORBERS. This is a 5-7/8" x 9" single sided sheet, presumably to be inserted as required in an original 6"x9-3/4" handbook. The only example I have, or have ever seen is actually stuck inside the rear cover of a 1938-9 1-1/2 LITRE SS Jaguar handbook, that is denoted inside as being supplied with 51285, purchased on Dec 2nd 1938 and registered CWX 731. p.38 of the 1938 and the 1938-9 1-1/2 litre handbooks show the LUVAX Vane type shock absorber, but the 1939 edition now shows a completely reprinted page showing the Piston Type as per the loose sheet insert. The 1940 edition of the 1-1/2 litre Handbook is significantly revised throughout, and does not show anything on the Shock Absorbers (that I can quickly see).

There was a much better effort made keeping the 1-1/2 litre Handbook up-to-date with successive 1938, 1938-9, 1939 and 1940 editions, than was the case of the unchanged content of the 1938, 1938-9, 1940 2-1/2 & 3-1/2 litre editions.

(Paul Wigton) #15

Looks just like the shift knob off a Volvo Amazon!

(Rob Reilly) #16

Sorta close, but no LIFT.

(Rob Reilly) #17

Thanks for all that detailed info, Roger. I see now that my pages are out of order. I have no page numbers. I think I said before that it was a photocopy. Whoever did it put the book open on the Xerox machine and did 2 pages together, which cropped the page numbers, and since it was probably done in the days when Xerox machines were rare, and the places that had them charged 25 cents a page, he only did what was important to him. It was probably someone in the UK as the pages measure 8-1/4" x 11-11/16".
Well, I know what to look for now.

(Paul Wigton) #18

In a pinch… …:wink:

(Ed Nantes) #19

And no BSF threaded insert. Alternatively just buy the correct item.

(Rob Reilly) #20

This looks like it might be one of the reprints.

As to the asking price, PT Barnum said it best, there’s a sucker born every minute.