The History of Jaguar

The Swallow Sidecar CompanyThe Swallow Sidecar Company was set up by two motorcycle enthusiasts in Blackpool on 4th September in 1922 by William Lyons & William Walmsley which made sidecars until 1939.

The company then changed its name to the Swallow Sidecar andCoachbuilding Co. and then again changed in 1933 to SS Cars Ltd.
In 1934 one of the industry's top engine experts, Harry Weslake was introduced to the company. In 1935 the name changed again to Jaguar and William Heynes was introduced as chief engineer.

By this time the company was producing limousines, sports cars and convertibles with 3 engine sizes: 1.5L, 2.5L and 3.5L. The fastest being the 3.5 SS 100 capable of speeds of 100mph and a 0-60 time of about 10.5 seconds. The SS 100 had plenty of success with wins at the Marne Grand Prix at Reims, the Alpine rally, the Villa Real International Event and the RAC rally.

In 1939 with the start of World War II, production was altered to help the war effort but in 1945 things returned to normal and the company changed its name again to Jaguar Cars Ltd.

The Jaguar XK120
The Jaguar XK120
1946 saw the introduction of the XK120, developed by William Lyons, inspired by the BMW328. The XK 120 was fitted with a 3442CC Straight Six DOHC engine.

By 1948 the XK120 Roadster was capable of 120mph and yet combined road holding with a comfortable ride. The XK120 Fixed Head Coupe was introduced in 1951 and was better trimmed with a veneer dashboard and wind-up windows. The XK120 Drophead Coupe followed in 1953. It had a convertible hood which was fully trimmed. The Drophead turned out to be a great competitive race car.

These models where followed in 1954 by the XK140 and in 1957 with the XK150. The XK range continued until 1961, halted by its aging design.

In the mid Fifties the company decided to increase its share of the market. Precarious because of only selling sports and luxury models Jaguar decided to aim at the home market and the MKI was first shown at the 1955 Motor Show. It was a the first Jaguar to have a monocoque chassis.

The MK 1 Jaguar
The MK 1 Jaguar
Instant success was the achieved with the introduction of the MKII an evolution of the earlier Jaguar 2.4 and 3.4 models. It had a better vision with more glass, better dashboard and leather seats as standard until 1967 when leather became an optional extra.

The MK II Jaguar
The MK 2 Jaguar
The Mk II featured the same engine sizes, plus the addition of the 3.8 from the XK150. It also spawned a host of variants during the 1960's such as the 1963 S-Type and the 1966 420. Each model went upmarket, filling perceived gaps between the compact Jaguars and the MKX (later renamed as the 420G).

In 1960 Daimler was bought by Jaguar.

Sir William Lyons stepped down in 1966 as Managing Director of the Jaguar Group, but he remained Chairman and Chief Executive. Joint management was taken up by Grice and England and later the company merged with The British Motor Corporation.

They then merged with Leyland in 1968 to form the largest British production company.

Sir William Lyons retired in 1972, 50 years after starting the company. This threw the company into disarray resulting in the loss and closure of various departments. By 1975 it was declared by the Ryder Report that Jaguar would not continue as an entity. Leyland Cars was then formed which produced the Jaguar XJ-S. Percy Plant became the chairman of Jaguar in 1979 and rumours of closure lowered the workers morale. The workers went on strike in 1980 over grading and pay. Morale was at an all time low when a new full-time chairman, John Egan was appointed in April 1980. With him came new blood, optimism which was well rewarded with better production figures and a new stability realised by 1985. That same year Sir Williams Lyons died

Jaguar Type Production years Length (Inches)Weight (Pounds)
SS Jaguar 100 1935-1940    
Jaguar Mark IV
Jaguar Mark V1948-19511873700-3860
Jaguar XK 120 1948-1954 1742855-3080
Jaguar VII/VIIM 1950-1957196.5 3865
Jaguar C-Type 1951-1953 157 2075
Jaguar XK 140 1954-1957 176 3135-3250
Jaguar 150 1957-1961 177 3220-3520
Jaguar Mark II 1960-1969 181 3200-3360
Jaguar E-Type (XKE) 1961-1971 175-184.5 2690-3100
Jaguar Mark X 1961-1965202 4175
Jaguar S-Type/420 1963-19691873585-3700
Jaguar Mark X & 420G1965-19702024300
Jaguar XJ6/XJ121969-1973 189.5 3885-3950
Jaguar E-Type Series III V-12 1971-1975184.4-189.63380-3450
Jaguar XJ6/XJ12 Series II 1973-1979 194.8 3950-4300
Jaguar XJC 1975-1978 195 4195