History of the British car brand of Jaguar began in Blackpool in September 1922, when William Lyons and William Walmsley founded the company for the production of motorcycle sidecars. They were sold under the brand name of Swallow, which was consistent with their graceful form. The company was called the Swallow Sidecar. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), the production of sidecars was unprofitable, and the Swallow Sidecar engaged in production of bodies for the popular at that time and low-cost car Austin Seven, and then they started the assembly of motor vehicles based on the units of Austin.
Product of a young company «Swallow Sidecar» immediately attracted attention with both beauty and elegance and the comparably low price - although the car with a body of Austin Swallow was sold at a bigger price than the original, still it has been one of the cheapest custom built cars. At the same time the company also produced bodies for Fiat 509A, Morris Cowley and Wolsely Hornet.
In the summer of 1931 at the London Motor Show there came the first car designed by the company - SS I. No one could say it definitely what was the meaning of the abbreviation SS - according to different opinions it could mean -- Standard Swallow or Swallow Special. Small car, which gave a start to the history of Jaguar as a car manufacturer, has become one of the most notable exhibits. Low and elongated body and a six-cylinder inline engine gave the SS I a look of an expensive sports car, but its performance did not meet the appearance - the car could hardly develop 113 km/h. That has been enough for everyday use, but could not serve as a pass to the class of sporting elite.
Meanwhile, the work on improving the car continued, and by the end of 1935 there was created a model of SS100. It had the radiator protected with a metal grill and huge head lights, beautiful fenders over spoke wheels of large diameter and car body with pure English cutouts for elbows (they simply had no space for elbows in the narrow cockpit) and the impressive size of the tank, covered with the spare wheel. Under the low hood, making the half of the length of the vehicle there was installed a 104-strong, inline-six, overhead valve, 2.5-liter engine. The index in the name of the model stood for the maximum speed of the car, but in reality only the model version designed three years later and having 3.5 liter engine displacement appeared to be able to overcome the magic threshold of 100 miles (161 km/h).
Model SS100 was series produced until 1939. It was the very model on which there appeared the word “Jaguar” in addition to the alpha digital index, thanks to William Lyons. This car was distinguished by elegant lines of the body and those years it had won many victories at top competitions of elegance while a powerful engine, partially synchronized transmission, suspension semi-elliptic leaf springs, Girling drum brakes and wise weight distribution provided it prizes in international rallies and competitions for climbing uphill.
Corporate identity style of many cars in those days was mostly discriminated by head figure adorning the radiator filler cap like a forward overhang of sailing ships. Mr. Rankin - the Head of advertising and marketing department of the company scribbled a sketch of a jumping cat and showed it to the sculptor Gordon Crosby. This was how the figure of a jaguar appeared.
During the Second World War the company produced bombers and light off-road vehicles with a Ford engine. After the war, Lyons, anticipating a negative reaction to the name of the company, similar to the name of the elite units of the Third Reich, replaced the abbreviation SS by Jaguar Car Limited.
The first post-war sports car Jaguar was the model of XK120 in 1948. For the first time the heart of the Jaguar has become the engine of its own design, the work on which began in Coventry in the years of war. The project was named X. It should be noted that only the eleventh version of the engine named “K” has been adopted for the series production. This engine was so efficient that it was mounted not only in the coupe, but also in the first post-war sedan Mk V in 1949.
The series inline six with the HC index, which first appeared under the hood of the new sports roadster Jaguar HK120 in 1948, had many features characteristic of modern powertrains - an aluminum cylinder head, hydraulic lifters in the valve mechanism located in the center of a hemispherical combustion chamber and spark plugs. The main technical highlight was the two overhead camshafts - bold and unusual solutions for engines in those years.
With the displacement of 3.4 liter the engine developed 160 hp. and accelerated the roadster up to 192 km/h (120 miles/hour – which is reflected in the numeric part of the model name) and it pleased the driver with high-torque and elasticity. In various versions it was used in all cars of Jaguar - executive class sedans, sports coupes and race cars - for 38 years! Even after the debut of the new AJ6 engine mounted in the sports coupe of Jaguar XJS of 1984 and the subsequent complete replacement of the old fellow XK at all Jaguar cars it has been still used with Daimler cars in Great Britain within a few next years. Originally the XK120 was planned as a small series car (200 units), but demand for this model had exceeded all expectations, and until 1954 there were manufactured about 12,000 units.
In 1954 to replace the XK120 there has come XK140, which was the first to have the engine power of 190 hp, and then of 210 hp. Just three years later it has been replaced with the model of even more powerful engine - XK150. With the 265-horsepower engine it accelerated to 210km/h. It was for the first time in the world that the series car was equipped with disc brakes on all the wheels.
Participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in1950 Jaguar HK120 kept within a group of leaders for quite a long time, but failed to reach the finish line. Lyons decided that if a serial car showed such good results, then a specially prepared car has all the chances to win the first place.
So, in 1951 the XK120C or C-Type entered the road. Boosted up to 210 hp by increasing the engine displacement, three Weber carburetors instead of the two SU and the body with a lightweight space frame made of pipes allowed one of the cars to setup the record of the circle, and another one had easily managed to win the race.
All in all C-Type had 37 victories in international competitions. In 1954, to replace the C-Type there came Jaguar D-Type, the three consecutive first place winner in Le Mans. Boosted up to 277 hp the engine allowed the D-Type to move with the speed of 240 km/h and to have the acceleration to 100 km/h in 4.7 sec. For having restituted the former UK sports fame, William Lyons has been awarded a title of nobility.
Prototypes of E1A of 1958 and E2A of 1960 have laid down the groundwork for batch roadster Jaguar E-Type, which impressed visitors at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961. The two-sitter E-Type with a streamlined body, mounted on the spatial tubular frame, equipped with 3.8-liter engine and all-wheel independent suspension was able to reach a maximum speed of 240 km/h. This model has brought the Jaguar company worldwide fame. In total there were more than 75,000 E-Type cars manufactured up till 1975. Having received a 3.8 L capacity and 265 hp. engine at “birth” the E-Type then developed and acquired the 4.2 L first and then the 5.3 –liter V12 engine. The end to the story of the E-Type was brought by the oil crisis in 1975 as 12-cylinder engines appeared to be too greedy for petrol.
Unfortunately, the E-Type did not reach the sports fame of his predecessors, and in 1966 there was built the sports prototype XJ13 with the twelve cylinder mid set engine and all-aluminum body. But a top speed of 281 km/h at that time was not already enough to win the first places in international competitions and in 1971 all works on the XJ13 were winded up.
In 1988 at the British Motor Show there was presented the concept of four-wheel drive Jaguar XJ220 with V12 engine of 6.2 L displacement, but further works over the car resumed only after a year. It had been decided to produce a small series (350 units) of XJ220, and besides the V12 engine had been replaced with a 6-cylinder 3.5 liter capacity. Its engine of 540 hp geared the rear wheels only and accelerated XJ220 to 210 miles/hour.
It has been total sold 275 units of XJ220 at price 403,000 pounds during the period from 1992 to 1996. And in 1996 there appeared a completely new model of XK8, replacing the XJ-S badly out of date by the time.
In addition to sports cars, Jaguar also produces luxury executive cars, the luxurious interior and passenger compartment decoration and prestige of these cars is competing with such brands as Rolls Royce and Bentley. Their story began in September 1948, when it was announced about the creation of a new model of post-war Mk V. The car was offered to the market with the body of sedan and coupe, and was fitted with an engine of 2.5 and 3.5 liters capacity. Mk model has been produced in different versions and series. For instance, Jaguar Mk II, produced from 1959 to 1969, had in its arsenal a relatively low-speed 2.4 liter 120 hp engine along with engines, borrowed from the XK series of 213 and 223 hp. With the use of these engines Mk II was able to develop speed up to 195 and 200 km/h, respectively. Speed characteristics of the car had been high estimated even by Scotland Yard, which had bought a few cars of Mk II with the most powerful 3.8-liter engine.
Surprisingly, sedans Mk I and Mk II achieved great success in racing. Some of the most famous racers of the time -- Mike Hawthorne, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Roy Salvadori used these cars while taking part in racing competitions. Jaguar won the car races of «Grand Tourismo» class in Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania and made the international distance range record in Italy. The cars MkII have supported the Jaguar tradition of winning the annual races of series cars in Silverstone and have brought the company the thirteenth victory in 1961.
British motor car industry, reaching maturity in the 60s, gradually was becoming a victim of its own conservatism. Mass bankruptcies of companies began. Trying to maintain its status, the companies began to unite. In 1968 the company «Jaguar» joined the «British Leyland Motor Corporation» (BLMC), occupying the top of the model lineup: the most expensive Daimler (including a single model of Limousine, designed by this company without the help of Jaguar) and a more modest one - Jaguar. Moreover, because of the vested interests the top management of BLMC ceased production of no less luxury cars of Wolseley, which also joined the corporation. At this time, a group of Daimler/Jaguar was led by John Egan. It was he who, in 1984, in the midst of crisis of the UK automotive industry has signed a decision to quit the BLMC, believing that if the corporation starts saving then the most costly unit of the corporation would become first subject of reduction.
Within five years, Daimler/Jaguar was on its own. Fortunately, they had several good models in store. For example, a sedan XJ6, produced from 1968 with a 6-cylinder, and later - a 12-cylinder engine. Or XJ-S (1975), high-speed coupe with V12. This engine was notable for an unusually high 12.5:1 compression ratio achieved by a patented combustion chamber May-Fireball. Original independent rear suspension was installed at the model XJ-S. The role of the upper wishbone was performed by a semi-axle. The brakes (until 1994) were brought to the main transmission. The model was produced in small series in various versions until 1996, eventually receiving a 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine rated at 333 hp.
But, despite all the technical and aesthetic delights, in 1989 the company lost its independence and became part of Ford's empire.
The new owners did not radically change the model lineup, and followed the way of modernization of existing cars. Seven years have passed and only in 1996 a new Jaguar sports sedan S-Type appeared in the arsenal of the company. Today, buyers are offered the range of four families - XK8/XKR, X-Type, S-Type and XJ. A new series of F-Type is underway now.
Since the beginning of 2008 Jaguar is owned by the Indian automotive giant - Tata Motors.