Jaguar – A brief history

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One of the most famous motoring names out there, Jaguar cars are synonymous with performance, style and luxury. Headquartered in Coventry and currently owned by Tata Motors of India, Jaguar has a rich history that spans world wars and sporting triumphs.


Beginning in Blackpool

The year was 1922 and motorcycle enthusiast William Lyons went into partnership with his friend, William Walmsley to launch The Swallow Sidecar Company. Right from the word go, Lyons had an eye for style and his range of sidecars saw strong sales thanks to their superior design and aesthetics. Before long, the company turned their attention to developing attractive chassis for automobiles built by other manufacturers. In 1931 they joined forces with the Standard Motor Company to build their first car, The Standard Swallow. The name Jaguar was adopted in 1935 and the new range of cars known as the SS Jaguar were among the world’s first sports cars.

From the wars to races

During the Second World War, Jaguar went back to their roots to help with the war effort, and began to build sidecars once again. In 1945, things went back to normal and the Jaguar name was changed to Jaguar Cars Ltd. The following year saw the release of their first sports car, known as the XK 120 which was initially intended to be a limited edition, but following huge interest and demand it entered mass production.

The success of the XK120 was followed by a series of competition-type cars (C-types) with new aerodynamic bodies. The C-type made its debut in the 1951 Le Mans race and went on to win with legendary British driver, Stirling Moss at the wheel.

Rocky roads and recovery

The company continued to enjoy success until 1972 when Chairman Sir William Lyons retired and the company began to have issues, leading to the closure of several departments. By 1975 it looked like Jaguar wouldn’t be able to continue and morale was at an all-time low following strikes by workers over pay issues. A new full-time Chairman was appointed in 1980, and John Egan began to steer the company back to success.

The Ford Motor Company entered the picture in 1990 and a hefty cash injection was used to continue producing new Jaguar models. In 2008, Jaguar was sold again, but this time to Indian giant, Tatar Motors who continue to champion luxury, development and quality with current productions.

With such a rich history and solid sporting heritage, Jaguar continues to be a household name and with such a large backer in Tata, the future of the name looks bright.

If you have a classic Jaguar, protect your pride and joy with our  classic car insurance policies. Why not join up with other passionate Jag-fans and find out more about The Jaguar Enthusiasts club or The Jaguar Drivers Club.