10 November, 2017

Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer - Jaguar

The next manufacturer in our series is Jaguar whose phoenix-like story has made them a massive success and a worthy candidate in our series.

From Sidecars to Cars

Jaguar's heritage dates back to 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company. Founded by William Lyons and William Walmsley, they manufactured sidecars and also automobile bodies for the likes of the Austin Seven. 

William Lyons created SS Cars Ltd in 1934. Their first car was called the SS 90 which theoretically went 90 mph and then the SS Jaguar 100 which they claimed went 100 mph.

Jaguar is Born

After WW2, SS Cars changed their name to Jaguar Cars Ltd to no longer associate themselves with any negative connotations from the word SS. William Lyon's vision was to push the boundaries of what is possible by combining performance and beauty. 

An Icon is Made

The Jaguar E-type, produced in 1961, was the perfect illustration of William Lyon's vision. Baffingly pretty, it raised the bar and is widely considered a legend among British engineering.

“The most beautiful car ever made.” - Enzo Ferrari describing the Jaguar E-Type

The E-type boasted not only a striking appearance but its elegance and the fact it could go faster than more expensive sports cars.

Other Jaguars which have embodied the vision of their founder were:

  • The Xj220 introduced at the 1988 NEC Motor Show was the fastest production car in the world.
  • The Jaguar XJR-9 famously won the 24 hours of Daytona Race and Le Mans in 1988 and the 2010 Le Mans legend.
  • The Jaguar F-Type R is considered to be one of the most powerful and aesthetically pleasing Jaguars in recent times.

Troubled Times for Jaguar

Jaguar merged with British Motor Corporation in 1966 who merged with Leyland to become the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. They ran into financial difficulties and were nationalised in 1975. Jaguar was de-merged from their parent company in 1984 and later were acquired by Ford in 1990 where they made no profit and were sold in 2008 to TATA Motors. 

Jaguar in Motorsport

Jaguar has achieved numerous successes in endurance championships. Jaguar has 7 Le Mans wins. One of those winning cars, the Jaguar D-Type, was later sold for over $20m at auction. Jaguar would go on to make road versions of this car but 9 perished in a fire which makes this car incredibly rare as only 12 exist today. However, in March 2016, Jaguar made the pledge to finish the orders to the original specification.

Other ventures into motorsport include a brief stint in Formula 1 from 2000-2004 where they achieved moderate success with podiums at circuits considered jewels of the Calendar such as Monaco and Italy.

They have competed in Formula E since 2016 and are developing an international racing series for a battery-powered electric car, the I-Pace eTrophy. 20 cars will be on the grid of equal spec putting further emphasis on the driver. 

Links to Royalty

Jaguar is also the official car of the Royal Families and Prime Minister who gave them a Royal Warrant.

Trivia - The model they use is the XJ.

Jaguar is a revered brand and its elegance has resulted in cars such as the E-type being timeless classics. Has Jaguar's contribution to Britain made them the greatest of all-time? Or is there another worthy contender? Next in our series is Land Rover.

Britain's greatest car manufacturer Jaguar
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Jaguar
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Jaguar
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Jaguar
Britain's greatest car manufacturer Jaguar