Jaguar Cars Ltd (known simply as ‘Jaguar’) is a luxury car manufacturer based in Coventry, England.
Jaguar Cars Ltd was bought by Tata Motors in 2008 for approximately $2.3 billion.
Originally named the Swallow Sidecar Company, the company was founded in Blackpool, England in 1922 by two motorcycle enthusiasts: William Lyons and William Walmsley.
The company initially produced sidecars for motorcycles and continued to do so until the beginning of World War II.
Several years later, William Lyons saw an opportunity for Swallow Sidecar Company to build special bodywork for the Austin Seven and in 1927, created a two-seater body for the little car. A major London dealer placed an order for 500 of the cars.
In 1929, Lyons introduced three new bodies at the London Motor Show. These were the Fiat Tipo 509A, the Swift Ten and the Standard Big Nine.
In 1930, the company outfitted the two-seater Wolseley Hornet.
1931 saw the company build the body for the four-seater Wolseley.
In 1932, they created a sporty body for the Hornet Special.
Not content with just building body work, Lyons wished to become a car manufacturer in his own right.
By 1931, the company had joined with local chassis builder Standard Motor Company to build the SS1 (which stood for Standard-Swallow 1). The SS1 was based on a Standard six-cylinder engine and a modified Standard chassis.
The SS1 was introduced at the 1931 London Motor Show alongside the smaller SS-II which had a four cylinder engine.
When the production of Swallow cars stopped in 1933, the company changed its name to SS Cars Ltd and Lyons became managing director.
In 1934, Lyons decided that he wanted to take the company public but his partner, William Walmesley did not agree. Amicably, Walmesley allowed Lyons to buy him out of the company.
In 1934, Lyons asked engineering consultant Harry Westlake to help form an Engineer Department and William Heynes was appointed as chief engineer at SS Cars Ltd.
During the World War II, much of the work done by SS Cars Ltd was centred around the production of materials of war. Even before the war the company had began to manufacture wing components for the Stirling bomber.
Lyons changed the name of the company to Jaguar Cars Ltd in 1945 when he realised that the SS initials had become tarnished due to its association with Schutzstaffel (which is often abbreiviated to SS) - a major parliamentary organisation under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
In 1946, Jaguar developed the XK120, a new sports car named after its top speed which was fitted with a six cylinder x2 OCH engine with a capacity of 3442 cc. The Jaguar XK120 was the fastest car of its time.
The MkVII saloon was introduced in 1950, a five-seater powered by the XK engine. Within months of its introduction, some $30million worth of orders were taken.
1950s and 1960s
The 1950s also saw the introduction of the XK140, the XK150 and the Mk II Saloon.
In 1961 Jaguar released the E-type – or the XKE as it was known in the USA- arguably one of the most famous sports cars of all time. Jaguar described the model as being “developed from the famous “C” and “D” type sports-racing cars” because it has a monocoque chassis similar to the D-type.
Later in 1961, the MKX saloon was introduced which shared the same independent rear suspension and engine as the E-type.
Lyons stepped down as managing director of the Jaguar Group in 1966, but he remained chairman and chief executive.
On July 11, 1966, Jaguar Cars Ltd. and the British Motor Corporation Ltd. announced they would merge.
In 1968, Jaguar merged with Leyland to form the largest British production company.
William Lyons retired in 1972, 50 years after first forming the Swallow Sidecar Company. This caused much confusion and resulted in the loss and closure of various departments such as sales and service.
In 1975, the Ryder Report declared that Jaguar would not continue as an entity. Leyland cars was then formed which produced the Jaguar XJ-S.
Percy Plan became the chairman of Jaguar in 1979. In 1980 workers went on strike over grading and pay. In 1980, John Egan was appointed as chairman of Jaguar. At this time morale was at an all time low. However, with Egan came optimism and by 1985 it was clear that Jaguar was stable once more.
1980s and 1990s
William Lyons died in 1985.
In 1989 Jaguar was taken over by Ford Motor Company.
Ford's influence was not fully felt until 1997 with the introduction of the XK8 and supercharged XKR sports cars. They were powered by the new AJ-V8 engine which was promptly stuffed into the 1998 X308 body to form the XJ8. In fact, the 1990s saw a complete rework of the Jaguar brand when it underwent a programme of modernisation and expansion that ensured the broadest product range in the company’s history.
Ford bought Land Rover in 2000. From then on the Land Rover brand became closely linked with the Jaguar brand with some models sharing components are production facilities.
In June, 2007, Ford announced that it was to sell Jaguar. In January 2008 Tata Motors were named as the preferred bidder. Tata Motors officially acquired Jaguar in March, 2008.
Jaguar cars have appeared in many films and television series including the Benny Hill Show, Thunderbirds, The Avengers and Magnum PI
List of films featuring Jaguar cars
- Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1997) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1999) – Jaguar E-type – In this film, Austin Powers (played by Mike Myers) famously referred to his E-type as a “Shaguar”
- The Italian Job (1969) – Jaguar E-type
- Batman Forever (1995) – Jaguar D-type
- Ocean’s 12 (2004) – Jaguar MkII
- The DaVinci Code (2006) – Jaguar MkII
- The Punisher (1989) – Jaguar XJ6
- The Fast and The Furious (1954) – Jaguar XK 120
- Cruel Intentions (1999) – Jaguar XK 140 (replica)
Celebrity Jaguar owners
- Jay Leno – Jaguar XK120M
- Bill Murray – Jaguar E-type
- Elton John – Jaguar XJ220 and a Jaguar E-type
- Pamela Anderson – Jaguar XK
- David and Victoria Beckham – Jaguar XFR