Sir William Lyons founded the Swallow Sidecar Company in September 1922 with fellow motorcycle enthusiast William Walmsley. Expansion came first in the addition of a coachbuilding segment. The first rebody undertaken by the company was on an Austin 7, and the success of that car, then called the Austin Swallow, changed the company's focus from motorcycle sidecars to automotive coachbuilding. It stayed that way until 1934, when SS Cars Ltd was created.
Jaguar was first used on a new model range in 1935, the SS Jaguar. Jaguar was chosen quickly by Lyons from a list prepared by Nelson Advertising Agency. "The car of the future has arrived. Swift as the wind--silent as a shadow come the SS Jaguars", was among the first of the advertisement taglines. The SS was dropped immediately after WWII due to the negative connotation with the Nazis' use of the letters. At the same time, the sidecar business was sold off.
The XK engine was a technical milestone, first designed in the late 1930s and powering vehicles well into the 1980s. It was built on the parameters of a minimum of 160hp, extremely smooth running, ability to be continuously developed, and "glamorous". Jaguar's C-type and D-type racers dominated international racing with this engine, and the XK 120, XK 140, and XK 150 became legendary sports cars in large part because of it.
Lyons saved one of his biggest surprises until 1961. The XKE, or E-type, would debut to some of the highest praise in automotive history. Enzo Ferrari famously called it "The most beautiful car ever made". Modeled after the Le Mans-winning D-type, it featured iconic swooping lines and excellent performance. To this day, it's among the most well known classic sports cars, and it continues to be extremely popular among collectors. Over its 15 year run, more than 70,000 units were sold.
Jaguar merged with British Motor Corporation in 1966 to form British Motor Holdings, which in 1968 merged with Leyland Motor Company to become British Leyland. Jaguar would go independent in 1984 through public sales of its shares. The company continued with its sporting luxury style, marketing cars like the XJ6 and the XJS through the 1980s.
Ford Motor Company would acquire Jaguar when they offered to buy the shares of U.S. and U.K. holders in 1989. Jaguar joined Ford's Premier Auto Group in 1999 with Aston Martin, Volvo, and beginning 2000 Land Rover. In early 2008, the Indian manufacturer Tata Motors purchased Jaguar and Land Rover. They remain closely tied, sharing dealerships, networks, and vehicle platforms.
Jaguar's current lineup includes the XF, XJ, and XK. The XF won several car of the year awards in its debut year of 2008. The XK, too, won several car of the year awards in 2006. With innovations implemented on the XK, Jaguar was one of the first to meet phase one of new European safety legislation requiring a range of active and passive improvements to pedestrian safety in the event of a collision.... View more