The story begun when Sir William Lyons (1901 – 1985) joined forces with William Walmsley to found the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922. They produced high-class coachbuilt sidecars for the huge motorcycle market. In 1927 they began manufacturing increasing numbers of low-cost coachbuilt cars based on the Austin Seven.
In 1931 Swallow started production of the SS 1, also changing the company name to SS Cars Ltd. Walmsley left the company the following year. In 1935 the first car bearing the name `Jaguar` was introduced. Production and sales were good and continued until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Car production ceased in favour of war production until 1945.
The company name was then changed to `Jaguar Cars Ltd` due to the unfortunate echoes of the name `SS`. Jaguar`s first production run in 1946 resulted in the 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 litre saloons and tourers, often incorrectly called MK4. It was a good starting effort after the war and the cars were well received. Prior to 1948, Standard Cars Ltd had supplied most of the SS/Jaguar engines. In that year Jaguar unveiled the revolutionary `XK` engine that had been under development since the 1930s. With six cylinders, twin overhead camshafts and cross-flowed hemispherical heads the new engine needed a new car worthy of it.
In 1948 the XK120 appeared with the revolutionary new engine. Production took off and Jaguar entered it`s golden era. In 1961 the E type and MK X were introduced. Both cars were well received but the E type was an enormous success, instantly becoming the cult car that everyone wanted. From 1961 both cars used the 3.8l engine replaced by the 4.2l in 1966. In 1966, in difficult financial conditions, Jaguar merged with British Motor Corporation (BMC) to form British Motor Holdings (BMH). In 1968 Jaguar produced the XJ6 saloon with the 3.4l and 4.2l XK engine. It was an immediate success, replacing the 420G (the facelifted MK X). In terms of units sold the XJ6 was Jaguar`s most successful model, offered with the 5.3l V12 in 1972 alongside the V12 E type.
With fuel costs rising fast after the Israeli/Arab Yom Kippur war neither were great sellers anymore. In 1975 BMH was nationalized and became British Leyland plc. BL created a specialist car division within the main group, called Jaguar-Rover- Triumph Ltd. These were dark days for the British motor industry. In early 1980 BL created a new group, Austin Rover and floated Jaguar on the stock market in 1984.
In 1989 Ford US bought up all available shares and took Jaguar over. After much wheeling and dealing Ford set up a new division in 1999. This division was called Premier Automotive Group. PAG included Aston Martin, Volvo and Land Rover. Ford invested huge amounts of money in the group but always maintained that it never made any money out of the business. New models were introduced, `S`type in 1999 and the `X`type in 2001, both designed in UK.
In 2007 Ford announced it`s intention to sell Jaguar/Land Rover. Many large companies showed great interest but the final buyer was TATA Motors of India paying the 1.7 billion USD price tag. All Jaguar and Land Rover production still remains in the UK. At the time of writing the companies are healthy with full order-books.
Every week we will bring you one model of Jaguar so don’t forget to check for your next favorite!
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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.
In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.
As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.
At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!
When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.
I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.
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