A Brief History of Jaguar

We look at the history of the luxury brand...
  • 14th November 2017
A Brief history of Jaguar header image

Jaguar are one of the most prestigious car brands in the world, and are quintessentially British.

They hold many Royal Warrants and also provide vehicles for the British Prime Minister. You cannot get any more British than that.

But where did it all begin?

We take a look at the history of Jaguar, from the Swallow Sidecar Company to Tata Motors.

 

When did Jaguar start making cars?

Jaguar started out as the Swallow Sidecar Company, which was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley. Both were motorcycle enthusiasts and the company manufactured motorcycle sidecars and automobile bodies.

However, Walmsley sold out in 1934 in order to buy the Swallow business. Lyons then formed S.S. Cars Limited. They found new capital by issuing shares to the public.

Their first model as an SS 2 ½ -litre sports saloon. A matching model was an open two-seater sports model, of which was named as the SS Jaguar 100.

In March 1945, the S.S Cars shareholders decided to change the name to Jaguar Cars Limited. This was so it couldn’t be connected with any other foreign name which, given that it was 1945, we understand completely.

Jaguar then made its name producing successful sports cars, including the Jaguar XK120, XK140, the Jaguar XK150 and the Jaguar E-Type. The Jaguar slogan was “Grace, Space, Pace” and this saw record sales achieved by the MK VII, IX, Mks I and II and the XJ6.

In 1951, Jaguar won the Le Mans 24 hours race. They won again in 1953.

Jaguar SS100 in red parked outside an old building

When did Jaguar buy Daimler?

In 1950 Jaguar agreed to lease the Daimler Shadow 2 factory from the Ministry of Supply. They were still supplying raw materials to companies at this point, as it wasn’t too long after the Second World War.

Jaguar then purchased Daimler in 1960 from BSA. Jaguar used the Daimler marque as a brand name for their most luxurious saloons throughout the late 1960s. This is not to be confused with the Daimler brand.

When did Jaguar merge with the British Motor Corporation?

Pressed Steel Company Limited made all of the bodies for Jaguar, they simply installed the mechanics. In mid-1965, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) bought Pressed Steel.

Due to the threat of ongoing supplies of bodies, a lack of an heir to Jaguar and Lyons’ age, he accepted an offer made to him by BMC to merge. They then formed British Motor (Holdings) Limited. This was in 1965, and in 1966 they changed their name to British Motor Holdings.

Jaguar and Leyland Motor

The Government were pushing British Motor Holdings to merge with Leyland Motor Corporation. Leyland Motor produced buses and trucks as well as Rover vehicles from 1967.

Jaguar E-Type in dark green travelling fast on a road

The resulting merger became the British Leyland Motor Corporation, a new holding company. This appeared in 1968 but it was unsuccessful. This was due to poor decisions by the board and financial difficulties of the Austin-Morris division, mainly.

Jaguar models around this time included the S-Type, the 420, which was sold as the Daimler Sovereign and the Mark X.

The XJ was launched in 1968 and ran until 1992.

When did Jaguar become a separate company?

As part of the Government’s privatisations, Jaguar was floated as a separate company on the stock market in July 1984. This was to create its own track record and saw huge success after its privatisation.

Much of this was credited to Sir John Egan who was installed as chairman in 1980. It was reported that Egan had solved the main problems that were preventing Jaguar from selling more cars. These included quality control, poor productivity and slow delivery schedules. One third of employees were cut to save costs and the prices in the US were increased but were masked by the exchange rate.

It was around this time that the Jaguar XJ had a complete redesign and went under the name XJ40.

When was Jaguar bought by Ford?

In 1989, Ford made offers to Jaguar’s UK and US shareholders to buy their shares. The listing on the London Stock Exchange was removed in February 1990 and in 1999, Jaguar became part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group.

And it was in good company, Ford also owned Aston Martin, Volvo and Land Rover from 2000.

Models launched under Ford’s ownership included the S-Type in 1999 and the X-Type in 2001. After Land Rover was acquired by Ford, itself and Jaguar became closely linked. They shared many common sales and distribution networks, including shared dealerships and some models even had shared components. They shared production facilities for the X-Type and the Freelander 2.

Jaguar X Type in red driving on a track in the rain

In 2007, Ford announced that they were intending to sell Jaguar and Land Rover. They had a huge amount of interest from the likes of Cerberus Capital Management and One Equity Partners, Ripplewood Holdings and Tata Motors.

Under Ford, Jaguar never made a profit.

When did Tata Motors buy Jaguar?

On January 1st 2008, Ford formally announced Tata Motors were to buy Jaguar from Ford. In March of the same year, it was reported that Citigroup and JP Morgan would finance this deal with a $3 billion loan.

Jaguar and Land Rover were sold to Tata Motors of India in March 2008, and the sale was expected to be complete a few months later. They also had the rights to Daimler, as well as Lanchester and Rover, both of which are dormant brands.

In 2008, as the sale was taking place, the Jaguar XF was launched. A mid-size executive car, it was introduced to replace the S-Type. It was awarded Car of the Year and Executive Car of the Year by WhatCar?. It was also awarded Car of the Year by What Diesel? From 2011, a diesel engine from Land Rover Freelander was added to the XF line-up as part of the facelift.

Could you see yourself driving around in the Jaguar XF Saloon? We can! Go check our Review of this model

When was the Jaguar XJ launched?

The first generation Jaguar XJ was the last Jaguar car to have creative input from Sir William Lyons and was first launched in 1968, and has been in production since.

Jaguar XJ Saloon in blue parked outside a modern building

The model was completely re-engineered in 2003 but stayed traditional in appearance, to much criticism from journalists. Many said that the car looked old fashioned and that the ‘Lyons line’ had been lost in translation.

In response to this criticism, Jaguar launched the fourth generation XJ which followed a design more in line with the XF and XK models.

The XJ are also offered in a longer wheelbase to cater to the limousine market.

When did Jaguar launch the R Models?

The first R Model was produced in 1995 with the XJR. It was powered by a supercharged 6-cylinder engine and produced 322 horsepower.

The XKR was introduced in 1997 and the S-Type R had a short run from 2003 to 2008. That too came equipped with a supercharged V8. It was then replaced by the XFR, a mid-sized saloon that boasted 510 horsepower.

When were Jaguar awarded Royal Warrants?

Jaguar hold three Royal Warrants, the first one was awarded in 1951 by King George VI. They also hold Royal Warrants from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales.

They also received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development for reducing their environmental impact in 2015.

The royal crest on the gates of Buckingham Palace, London.

Jaguar and the Prime Ministerial Car

The current vehicle used by the UK Prime Minister is a custom built Jaguar XJ Sentinel supercharged 5.0 litre V8.

The current model fleet was first used by David Cameron in May 2010.

Of course, we don’t know much about these vehicles, much of the details are classified. However, it is thought that the current Jaguar model costs up to £300,000.

The model comes with more than your average safety pack, and has a huge amount of security features that sound like they’re straight out of a Bond movie.

These include things such as an explosive resistant steel plate underneath the body, titanium and Kevlar lined cabins and bullet resistant windows. It also comes with ‘gun ports’ that enable bodyguards to return fire at any attackers, but they can’t shoot in.

There is also an oxygen supply to protect passengers against a chemical or biological attack. There are also HD televisions, night vision as well as massage seats.

Jaguar and the Present Day

Jaguar currently have a range of models out including saloons and SUVs. It has been reported recently that the Jaguar XJ will be Jaguar’s flagship SUV and that the J-Pace model will sit above the F-Pace.

The Jaguar I-Pace, the first fully electric Jaguar, is set to be launched next year. It is thought that this electric Jaguar will compete with the Tesla Model X and has a targeted range of approximately 220 miles. It is also thought that it will reach 0-60mph in about 4 seconds.

Jaguar are continuing to make class leading vehicles, and are competing with the likes of Porsche on a regular basis. Still quintessentially British, despite some rocky times in the past, Jaguar are going from strength to strength.

dark blue Jaguar F PACE driving along a road next to some mountains
Unsure whether Jaguar is the right brand for you?  Read our latest car reviews  to help with your decision
Holly Martin

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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