Jaguar history, profile and history video
“Jaguar Cars has a rich and long history, from the humble origins of the Swallow Sidecar company in 1922 through to the successful multi-national company of today. A summary of Jaguar’s history is provided below. Click on the links to the left of this for more detail of specific eras.
In 2010, Jaguar celebrated its 75th anniversary. To commemorate this, we have compiled a video showcasing some of the highlights from the last 75 years.”
Birth of the cars
The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by two motorcycle enthusiasts, William Lyons and William Walmsley. leading to SS Cars Ltd. In 1935 the SS Jaguar name first appeared on a 2.5-litre saloon, sports models of which were the SS 90 and SS 100.
Cash was short after World War II, and Jaguar sold the plant and premises of Motor Panels, a pressed steel body manufacturing company they had acquired in the late 1930s when growth prospects seemed more secure. The buyer was Rubery Owen. Nevertheless, Jaguar achieved relative commercial success with their early post war models; times were also tough for other Coventry-based auto-makers and the company was able to buy from John Black’s Standard Motor Company the plant where Standard had built the six-cylinder engines it had been supplying to Jaguar.
Jaguar made its name by producing a series of successful eye-catching sports cars, the Jaguar XK120 (1948-54), Jaguar XK140 (1954-7), Jaguar XK150 (1957-61), and Jaguar E-Type (1961-75), all embodying Lyons’ mantra of “value for money”. The sports cars were successful in international motorsport, a path followed in the 1950s to prove the engineering integrity of the company’s products.
Jaguar’s sales slogan for years was “Grace, Space, Pace”, a mantra epitomised by the record sales achieved by the MK VII, IX, Mks I and II saloons and later the XJ6. During the time this slogan was used, but the exact text varied.
The core of Bill Lyons’ success following WWII was the twin-cam straight six engine, conceived pre-war and realised while engineers at the Coventry plant were dividing their time between fire-watching and designing the new power plant. It had a hemispherical cross-flow cylinder head with valves inclined from the vertical; originally at 30 degrees (inlet) and 45 degrees (exhaust) and later standardised to 45 degrees for both inlet and exhaust.
As fuel octane ratings were relatively low from 1948 onwards, three piston configuration were offered: domed (high octane), flat (medium octane), and dished (low octane).
The main designer, William “Bill” Heynes, assisted by Walter “Wally” Hassan, was determined to develop the Twin OHC unit. Bill Lyons agreed over misgivings from Hassan. It was risky to take what had previously been considered a racing or low-volume and cantankerous engine needing constant fettling and apply it to reasonable volume production saloon cars.
The subsequent engine (in various versions) was the mainstay powerplant of Jaguar, used in the XK 120, Mk VII Saloon, Mk I and II Saloons and XK 140 and 150. It was also employed in the E Type, itself a development from the race winning and Le Mans conquering C and D Type Sports Racing cars refined as the short-lived XKSS, a road-legal D-Type.
Few engine types have demonstrated such ubiquity and longevity: Jaguar used the Twin OHC XK Engine, as it came to be known, in the Jaguar XJ6 saloon from 1969 through 1992, and employed in a J60 variant as the power plant in such diverse vehicles as the British Army’s Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family of vehicles, as well as the Fox armoured reconnaissance vehicle, the Ferret Scout Car, and the Stonefield four-wheel-drive all-terrain lorry. Properly maintained, the standard production XK Engine would achieve 200,000 miles of useful life.
Two of the proudest moments in Jaguar’s long history in motor sport involved winning the Le Mans 24 hours race, firstly in 1951 and again in 1953. Victory at the 1955 Le Mans was overshadowed by it being the occasion of the worst motorsport accident in history. Later in the hands of the Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse two more wins were added in 1956 and 1957.
In spite of such a performance orientation, it was always Lyons’ intention to build the business by producing world-class sporting saloons in larger numbers than the sports car market could support. Jaguar secured financial stability and a reputation for excellence with a series of elegantly styled luxury saloons that included the 3 litre and 3½ litre cars, the Mark VII, VIII, and IX, the compact Mark I and 2, and the XJ6 and XJ12. All were deemed very good values, with comfortable rides, good handling, high performance, and great style.
Combined with the trend-setting XK 120, XK 140, and XK 150 series of sports car, and nonpareil E-Type, Jaguar’s Elan as a prestige motorcar manufacturer had few rivals. The company’s post-War achievements are remarkable, considering both the shortages that drove Britain (the Ministry of Supply still allocated raw materials) and the state of metallurgical development of the era.
In 1951, Jaguar leased Browns Lane from The Daimler Company Limited, which quickly became its principal plant. Jaguar purchased Daimler—not to be confused with Daimler-Benz or Daimler AG—in 1960 from BSA. From the late 1960s, Jaguar used the Daimler marque as a brand name for their most luxurious saloons.
An end to independence
Pressed Steel Company Limited made all Jaguar’s (monocoque) bodies leaving provision and installation of the mechanicals to Jaguar. In mid-1965 British Motor Corporation(BMC), the Austin-Morris combine, bought Pressed Steel. Alarmed by Jaguar’s relegation to the position of non-preferred customer by the maker of the largest part of its product Sir William Lyons elected to not fight BMC’s offer to buy Jaguar and BMC took control in September 1966. In view of these significant acquisitions, Pressed Steel and Jaguar, BMC changed its name to British Motor Holdings at the end of 1966.
BMH was pushed by the government to marry up with relatively well-managed prosperous Leyland Motor Corporation Limited, manufacturer of Leyland bus and truck, Standard-Triumph and, since 1967, Rover vehicles. The result was British Leyland, a new holding company which appeared in 1968, but the combination was not a success. The continuing management and financial difficulties of, especially, the Austin-Morris division (previously BMC) led to the Ryder Report and to effective nationalisation in 1975.
Temporary return to independence
Over the next few years it became clear that because of the low regard for many of the group’s products insufficient capital could be provided to develop and begin manufacture of new models, including Jaguars, particularly if Jaguar were to remain a part of the group.
In July 1984, Jaguar was floated off as a separate company on the stock market – one of the Thatcher government’s many privatisations– to create its own track record.
Installed as chairman in 1980, Sir John Egan is credited for Jaguar’s unprecedented prosperity immediately after privatisation. In early 1986 Egan reported he had tackled the main problems that was holding Jaguar back from selling more cars: quality control, lagging delivery schedules, poor productivity, and laid off about a third of the company’s 10,000-some employees to cut costs. Commentators have since pointed out he exploited an elderly model range on which all development costs had been written off and raised prices as well as intensifying the push to improve Jaguar’s quality but in the USA the price rises were masked by a favorable exchange rate.
Ford Motor Company era
Ford made offers to Jaguar’s US and UK shareholders to buy their shares in November 1989; Jaguar’s listing on the London Stock Exchange was removed on 28 February 1990. In 1999 it became part of Ford’s new Premier Automotive Group along with Aston Martin,Volvo Cars and, from 2000, Land Rover. Under Ford’s ownership, Jaguar never made a profit.
Under Ford’s ownership Jaguar expanded its range of products with the launch of the S-Type in 1999 and X-type in 2001. Since Land Rover’s May 2000 purchase by Ford, it has been closely associated with Jaguar. In many countries they share a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships), and some models now share components, although the only shared production facility was Halewood Body & Assembly, for the X-Type and the Freelander 2. However operationally the two companies were effectively integrated under a common management structure within Ford’s PAG.
On 11 June 2007, Ford announced that it planned to sell Jaguar, along with Land Rover and retained the services of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and HSBC to advise it on the deal. The sale was initially expected to be announced by September 2007, but was delayed until March 2008. Private equity firms such as Alchemy Partners of the UK, TPG Capital, Ripplewood Holdings (which hired former Ford Europe executive Sir Nick Scheele to head its bid), Cerberus Capital Management and One Equity Partners (owned by JP Morgan Chase and managed by former Ford executive Jacques Nasser) of the US, Tata Motors of India and a consortium comprising Mahindra and Mahindra (an automobile manufacturer from India) and Apollo Management all initially expressed interest in purchasing the marques from the Ford Motor Company.
Before the sale was announced, Anthony Bamford, chairman of British excavator manufacturer JCB had expressed interest in purchasing the company in August 2006, but backed out upon learning that the sale would also involve Land Rover, which he did not wish to buy. On Christmas Eve of 2007, Mahindra and Mahindra backed out of the race for both brands, citing complexities in the deal.
Tata Motors era
On 1 January 2008, Ford formally declared that Tata was the preferred bidder. Tata Motors also received endorsements from the Transport And General Worker’s Union (TGWU)-Amicus combine as well as from Ford. According to the rules of the auction process, this announcement would not automatically disqualify any other potential suitor. However, Ford (as well as representatives of Unite) would now be able to enter into detailed discussions with Tata concerning issues ranging from labour concerns (job security and pensions), technology (IT systems and engine production) and intellectual property, as well as the final sale price. Ford would also open its books for a more comprehensive due diligence by Tata. On 18 March 2008, Reuters reported that American bankers Citigroup and JP Morgan would finance the deal with a USD 3 billionloan.
On 26 March 2008, Ford announced that it had agreed to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover operations to Tata Motors of India, and that they expected to complete the sale by the end of the second quarter of 2008.Included in the deal were the rights to three other British brands, Jaguar’s own Daimler, as well as two dormant brands Lanchester andRover. On 2 June 2008, the sale to Tata was completed at a cost of £1.7 billion.
The Swallow Sidecar company (SSC) was originally located in Blackpool but moved to Holbrook Lane, Coventry in 1928 when demand for the Austin Swallow became too great for the factory’s capacity. In 1951, having outgrown the original Coventry site they moved to Browns Lane, which had been a wartime “shadow factory” run by The Daimler Company. Today, Jaguars are assembled at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham. The historic Browns Lane plant ceased trim and final operations in 2005, the X350 XJ having already moved to Castle Bromwich two years prior, leaving the XK and S-Type production to Castle Bromwich
In 2000, Ford turned its Halewood plant over to Jaguar following the discontinuation of its long running Escort that year for Jaguar’s new X-Type model. It was later joined by the second-generation Land Rover Freelander 2, from 2007. Jaguars ceased being produced at Halewood in 2009 following the discontinuation of the X-Type; Halewood now becoming a Land Rover-only plant.
A reduced Browns Lane site operates today, producing veneers for Jaguar Land Rover and others, as well as some engineering facilities. A new assembly plant was opened atPune, India in April 2011.
Jaguar will begin producing the Jaguar XE – the replacement for the X-Type – at Land Rover’s Solihull plant in 2015, the first non-4×4 passenger car to be produced at the plant since the Rover SD1 in the late 1970s.”
*Information from Jaguarheritage.org and Wikipedia.org
**Video published on YouTube by “Jaguar“