The Steadman Jaguar TS100 is a rare British sportscar that was designed and built by Ottercraft in Cornwall during the late 1980's and early 1990's. It was never intended to be a replica of the SS100 built by Swallow Sidecars in the 1930's. It was produced as an exclusive hand-built aluminium bodied turnkey sportscar in its own right, using more modern mechanical parts and build methods.
A number of other attempts have been made to build a car in the style of or replicating the original SS100, but in most cases their styling differed considerably. Many did not use Jaguar mechanical parts and were purposefully designed kit cars with fibreglass bodies.
Steadman TS100 Chassis & Body
The lower chassis sub-assembly refltects the standard twin rail design of the 1930s, with cross bracing added to improve tortional stiffness. The upper subassembly is constructed using both round & square section tubing, as opposed to a wooden ash frame. This provide a strong, secure passenger cell to which the aluminium bodywork is attached and is also fitted with a heavy aluminium firewall between the engine bay & the cockpit.
Steadman TS100 Mechanical Specification
The cars are fitted with either 2.8, 3.8 or 4.2 litre Jaguar XJ6 DOHC inline 6-cylinder engines, with manual or automatic transmissions. Similarly, the front and rear suspension, brakes and steering are also taken from the Jaguar XJ6 which has basically been rebodied, retaining its original wheelbase and therefore its tested and approved road holding capabilities.
Only 28 Steadman TS100's were built before the bank foreclosed the company in 1991.The Steadman Jaguar TS100 Enthusiasts Club maintains a record of all the known TS100 cars around the world, and is endeavouring to trace the remaining cars. The Club also holds and collects all known TS100 promotional literature, media articles, videos and associated documentation which are freely accessable to Club Members. Membership of the TS100 Club is 100% free, so please sign-up and support us.
The cars were built entirely to order, by The Steadman Motor Company / Ottercraft Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall, UK.
A self-build option was offered but it is not believed that any cars were actually sold in that form. The rolling chassis with body already attached was to be the basis of a self-build project. However, taking into account the cost of all the ancillary TS100 specific parts including the engine, gearbox. upholstery & paintwork the cost would have risen dramatically.
In 2015 a large quantity of original specific TS100 parts, which included all the aluminium body panels, lights, fitments and build plans were traced to the USA. These have now been returned to the UK and are available through the club.
Prices for a complete car rose from £36,000 in 1989 to £49,500 by the time the company ceased trading in the early 1990's. Each car took some 1850 skilled man-hours to complete.
(The following, is an edited and updated article, originally written by Ottercraft Ltd, circa 1989, describing the rationale for the building of the TS100.)
The Jaguar Steadman TS100
A handcrafted, aluminium bodied, Jaguar based thoroughbred, British built in the best British tradition.
We make no claim that the Steadman TS100 is a replica. In appearance, however, it is a faithful reproduction of the SS-Jaguar of the 1930’s. We could very easily have produced a car that was authentic in almost every detail – but what would have been the point? It would neither have been a true SS100, nor a modern car, but a modern fake with all the disadvantages (except the looks) of a car built 75 odd years ago. We maintain therefore, that those changes which we have decided to make at the time, in the light of 50 years of development in the design, layout and construction of motor cars since the SS100 was first built, have resulted in an altogether better car. But we steadfastly retained the poise, balance and lines – and above all the individuality – of the breathtakingly beautiful car conceived by ‘Bill’ Lyons so long ago.
We could, for example, very easily have used the leaf springs and beam axles of the original, with the limited spring deflection and bumpy, ‘quick’ ride that the old-type suspension provided. But why use out-dated layouts when more modern all-round independent suspension does the job so much better? And, to provide the absolute rigidity required if all-found independent suspension was to do its work properly, we based the car on an extremely stiff, fabricated modern chassis-frame.
We could have retained the externally-mounted, 17 gallon fuel tank at the rear, unprotected except by the spare wheel – a layout much favoured by British sports car manufacturers in the 1930’s. But why adhere to a layout that is frowned upon by more recent Construction and Use Regulations on the grounds of its vulnerability and consequent fire risks.
With no difficulty at all we could have mounted the engine in its original position, too far forward in the chassis-frame and retained the SS-100’s undesirable feature of inherent under-steer.
But why perpetuate handling shortcomings when a slight repositioning of the engine will change the weight distribution and produce a much better balanced car? And, had we been real sticklers for originality, we could have retained the old Girling rod-operated drum brakes – but they would have been wholly inadequate in today’s traffic conditions on a very high-performance car. If the truth were known, they were scarcely up to their job on the SS100 itself – so the TS100 has modern disc brakes front and rear.
By incorporating these and other improvements, the results of more up to date know-how and techniques, we achieved something of which Sir William Lyons might have approved – a car perhaps that he would have produced himself in the 1930’s, if those components and knowledge had been available to him at the time. From the TS100’s earliest conception, we sought to reproduce the beauty-of-line of a singularly beautiful car – but not its out-dated short-comings!
So far as the TS100’s specification is concerned, components from the production Jaguar XJ6 were used almost throughout – either completely reconditioned, or brand new, with the price adjusted accordingly. The carburettor version of the 4.2 litre (258 cu. In.), twin-o.h.c., 6 cylinder engine, with its power output of 180 b.h.p. (DID) at 4,500 r.p.m., and 232 1b./ft. of torque at 3,000, gives a power to weight ratio on the XJ6 of 104 b.h.p. per ton – and a top speed of almost 120 m.p.h.
For the TS100, with a kerb weight only two-thirds that of the XJ6, the power to weight ratio increases to the impressive figure of 160 b.h.p. per ton. The effect of this increase upon the XJ6’s already impressive acceleration figures can be imagined – and, for those more concerned with the out-and-out maximum speed, the reduced weight means that the engine will pull a higher axle ratio. The gearbox – 4 speed manual or 3 speed automatic – is standard XJ6, with standard ratios.
Front and rear suspension units are also standard XJ6 – double wishbones at the front, with coil springs, lower wishbones a t the rear with fixed-length drive-shafts, and telescopic dampers all-round. Combined with these suspension units are the standard XJ6 power-assisted all-round disc brakes (285 mm dia. front: 264 mm rear). With the reduced weight of the TS100, these give a truly impressive braking performance.
To suit this reduction in weight and to lower the car slightly on the suspension, after extensive experiments we settled upon slightly softer springs of reduced length,. The effect of this change has been two-fold – not only does it improve the ride, but it has enhanced the look of the car aesthetically. At first we had wondered how the ‘wheel arches’ beneath Bill Lyons’ beautifully proportioned, flared wings would match-up with the smaller diameter and much wider wheels and tyres of the XJ6. The outcome has been very successful, with the wheel-arches better filled, yet still allowing plenty of room for the increased suspension deflections.
The body is panelled throughout in 16-gauge aluminium, mounted on the fabricated steel chassis-frame. To give protection to the steel fuel tank, we slightly altered the rear-end treatment so as to contain it within the luggage boot. Tank capacity has had to be reduced to eight gallons; but with the ‘easy driving’ fuel consumption of slightly over 20 m.p.g. for the XJ6, and allowing for the reduced weight of the TS100, this should give a brim-to-brim mileage of around 200. The single spare wheel, gives added protection to the fuel tank, is mounted in the traditional SS100 position, vertically at the extreme rear of the car.