How did Jaguar cars begin?

One of the most storied names in British motoring began with a set of rather unfortunate initials. Founded in 1922 as Swallow Sidecars, Sir William Lyons' company didn't turn to cars until 1934, releasing the first SS Jaguar in 1935. Advertising with the tagline: "The car of the future has arrived. Swift as the wind--silent as a shadow come the SS Jaguars," they quickly built a reputation for performance.

What happened after the war?

The first order of business after the War was to drop the SS from the name and go by the Jaguar name alone. Lyons also sold off the sidecar business so as to focus on the growing car manufacturing industry. By 1948, Jaguar had the XK120 on the market featuring the first incarnation of the company's XK6 engine. The XK120 gave way to the XK140, XK150, and finally the E-Type. All four models used the same basic engine in the XK6, although later models of the E-Type used the company's V12 engine.

What was the XK6 engine?

The Jaguar XK6 engine was the key to Jaguar's success for over forty years. Produced from 1948 to 1992, it went into everything from sports cars to armored fighting vehicles. At a time when many cars still relied on side-valve designs, Jaguar was already working on a dual overhead camshaft design. It was the flexibility of this design that kept the engine alive through so many years and a wide range of different displacements:

  • 3.4-Liter: The original form, introduced with the XK120 in 1948, this was the parent of all later engines. It remained in production until 1968.
  • 2.4-Liter: Built for compact cars, this was the entry level engine from 1954 to 1969.
  • 3.8-Liter: The engine that powered the first E-Type, it was produced from 1958 to 1968.
  • 3.0-Liter: This very rare engine was first produced in 1959 and not used in any Jaguar production cars.
  • 4.2-Liter Produced from 1964 through 1992, this was the last main version of the engine. It powered everything from the later E-Types through the Scorpion light tank.
  • 2.8-Liter Only produced from 1968 to 1973, this was the least successful variant and quickly superseded.
  • 3.4-Liter The second generation 3.4-Liter was introduced in 1975 and remained in production until 1986. A new design, it served the same purpose as the original 2.4.

Where is Jaguar today?

After years of bouncing between owners, Jaguar is now owned by India's Tata corporation. Today's Jaguar has returned to its sports car roots with models like the F-Type leading the way.