Jaguar Cars Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury and sports cars founded in 1922 and headquartered at Browns Lane, Coventry, England.
Because Jaguar occupies both the performance and luxury markets, its competition is particularly diverse. It includes BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti, as well as Lincoln in the U.S..
The name is pronounced Template:Jag-u-ar/ in the UK, Template:Jag-w-ar in the USA.
Founded as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, by two motorcycle enthusiasts, William Lyons and William Walmsley, the Jaguar name first appeared on a 2.5 Litre saloon in 1935. This name was given to the entire company when SS Cars Ltd was renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd after World War II because of the unfavourable connotations of the initials, SS.
Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation (BMC), the Austin-Morris combine, to form British Motor Holdings (BMH) in 1966. After merger with Leyland and Rover, the resultant company then became British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) in 1968. Financial difficulties and the publication of the Ryder Report led to effective nationalisation in 1975 and the company became British Leyland Ltd (BL).
In 1984, Jaguar was floated off as a separate company on the stock market – one of the Thatcher government’s many privatizations. It took the Vanden Plas name with it. It was then taken over by Ford in 1989-1990. In 1999 it was made part of Ford’s new Premier Automotive Group along with Aston Martin and Volvo Cars. Land Rover was added to the group in 2001 following its purchase from BMW.
The company was originally located in Blackpool but relocated to Coventry in 1928 to be at the heart of the British motor industry. Today, Jaguars are assembled at Castle Bromwich in Birmingham and Halewood in Liverpool. The historic Browns Lane plant closed as a vehicle assembly plant in 2005 leaving aluminium vehicle production at Castle Bromwich and steel at Halewood.
Jaguar also owns the Daimler car company (not to be confused with Daimler-Benz), which it bought in 1960 from Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA). Since the late 1960s, Daimler has been a brand name for Jaguar’s most luxurious saloons.
The Jaguar company started production with the pre-war 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 Litre models which used engines designed by the Standard Motor Company. The 1.5 Litre 4 cylinder engine was still supplied by Standard but the two larger six cylinder ones were made in house.
The first post war model was the 1948 Mark V available with either 2.5 or 3.5 Litre engines and had a more streamlined appearance than the pre-war models but more important was the change to independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes.
The big breakthrough was the launch in 1948 of the XK120 sports car with the new XK twin overhead cam, 3.5 Litre, six cylinder engine designed by William Heynes and Claude Bailey. This car had originally been intended as a short production model of about 200 vehicles as a test bed for the new engine until its intended home, the new Mark VII saloon was ready. The XK120’s reception was such that production continued until 1954 and it was followed by the XK140, XK150 and E-Type models, keeping Jaguar in the sports car market.
Introducing the large Mark VII Saloon in 1951, a car especially conceived for the American Market, Jaguar soon found itself overwhelmed with orders. The Mark VII and its successors gathered rave reviews from magazines such as Road and Track and Motor. In 1956 a Jaguar Mark VII won the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally.
The 1955 Mark 1 small saloon was the first monocoque (unibody) car from Jaguar and used a 2.4 Litre short stroke version of the XK engine. In 1959, the car was improved with a larger engine and wider windows and became the Mark 2, one of the most recognizable Jaguar models ever produced.
The Mark VIII of 1956 and Mark IX of 1958 were essentially updates of the Mark VII but the Mark X of 1961 was a completely new design of Jaguar large saloon with all round independent suspension and unibody construction.
The independent rear suspension from the Mark X was incorporated in the 1963 S-Type which closely resembled the Mark 2, and in 1967 the Mark 2 name was dropped when the small saloon became the 240/340 range. The 420, also sold as the Daimler Sovereign, of 1966 put a new front onto the S-type although both cars continued in parallel until the S-Type was dropped in 1968. The Mark X became the 420G in 1966.
Of the more recent saloons, the most significant is the XJ (1968-present), still the definitive Jaguar saloon car for many. Since 1968 the Series I XJ has seen major changes in 1973 (to Series II), 1979 (Series III), 1986 [Europe] / 1987 [United States] (XJ40), 1995 (X300), 1997 (to the V-8 powered X308), 2003 (the present model, X350). The most luxurious XJ models carry either the Vanden Plas or Daimler nameplates.
Most Important Models
• XK120 (1948-1954)
• XK140 (1954-1957)
• XK150 (1957-1960)
• Jaguar E-type (XKE) (1961-1975)
• XJ-S/XJS (1975-1996)
• XK8 (1996-2005)
• XK (X150) (2006 to present)
• 2.5 Litre (1935-1948)
• 3.5 Litre (1937-1948)
• Mark IV (1945-1948)
• Mark V (1949-1951)
• Mark VII(M) (1950-1957)
• Mark VIII (1957-1959)
• Mark IX (1958-1961)
• Mark X/420G (1961-1970)
• XJ6 (1968-1986)
• XJ12 (1972-1991)
• XJ40 (1986-1994)
• 1.5 Litre (1935-1949)
• Mark 1 (1955-1959)
• Mark 2 (1959-1966)
• S-type (1963-1968)
• 240/340 (1967-1969)
• 420 (1966-1970)
Jaguar has designed in-house four generations of engines.
• Historical engines:
• Jaguar XK6 engine – inline-6
• Jaguar V12 engine – V12
• Jaguar AJ6 engine – inline-6
• Current engines:
• Jaguar AJ-V8 engine – V8
• Jaguar AJ-V6 engine – V6
The current Jaguar line-up includes the following models:
• X-Type – mid-size saloon
• S-Type – luxury saloon
• XJ6/XJ8/XJR – large saloon
• XK8/XKR – sports car/convertible
Sports car racing
The company has had major success in sports car racing, particularly in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Victories came in 1951 and 1953 with the C-Type, then in 1955, 1956 and 1957 with the D-Type. The famous race was then left for many years, until in the mid-1980s Tom Walkinshaw’s TWR team started designing and preparing Jaguar V12-engined sports prototypes for European sports car races. The team started winning regularly from 1987, and with increased factory backing the team won Le Mans in 1988 and 1990. Jaguar Sport:
• Jaguar C-Type (1951-1953)
• Jaguar D-Type (1954-1957)
• Jaguar Lightweight E-Type
• XJ220 (1988)
• XJR-15 (1990)