Jaguar Company

Sir William Lyons  William_Walmsley

The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded in 1922 by two motorcycle enthusiasts, William Lyons and William Walmsley. In 1934, Walmsley elected to sell out and, to buy the Swallow business (but not the company which was liquidated), Lyons formed SS Cars, finding new capital by issuing shares to the public.


SS Jaguar 2½-litre sports saloon and 3½-litre SS100

Jaguar first appeared in September 1935 as a model name on an SS 2½-litre sports saloon.  A matching open two-seater sports model with a 3½-litre engine was named SS Jaguar 100.  On 23 March 1945, the SS Cars shareholders in a general meeting agreed to change the company's name to Jaguar Cars Limited. Said chairman William Lyons, "Unlike SS, the name Jaguar is distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name."

SS Jaguar 3½-litre, 125 hp drophead coupé 1940

Though five years of pent-up demand ensured plenty of buyers, production was hampered by a shortage of materials, particularly steel, issued to manufacturers until the 1950s by a central planning authority under strict government control. Jaguar sold Motor Panels, a pressed steel body manufacturing company bought in the late 1930s, to steel and components manufacturer Rubery Owen, and Jaguar bought from John Black's Standard Motor Company the plant where Standard built Jaguar's six-cylinder engines. From this time, Jaguar was entirely dependent for their bodies on external suppliers, in particular then independent Pressed Steel, and in 1966 this carried Jaguar Cars into BMC, BMH and British Leyland.

XK120 Coupe  XK140 Front  XK150 Front  E-type S1 OTS

Jaguars XK120, XK140, XK150 and E-type Series 1

Jaguar made its name by producing a series of successful eye-catching sports cars, the Jaguar XK120 (1948–54), Jaguar XK140 (1954–57), 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.

Mk VII  Mk X  Mk 1  XJ6 S1

Jaguars Mk IV, Mk X, Mk 1 and XJ6 Series 1

Jaguar's sales slogan for years was "Grace, Space and Pace", a mantra epitomised by the record sales achieved by the MK VII, IX, Mks I and II saloons and later the XJ6.

The core of Bill Lyons' success following the Second World War 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 configurations were offered: domed (high octane), flat (medium octane), and dished (low octane).

XK engine in a Jaguar E-Type

The main designer, William Heynes, assisted by Walter 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 Jaguars, 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.

Despite 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 cars, and the E-Type, Jaguar's elan as a performance 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.


Daimler SP250  Daimler 250  Daimler DS420

Daimlers SP250, 250 V8 Saloon, DS420 Limousine

In 1950, Jaguar agreed to lease from the Ministry of Supply the Daimler Shadow 2 factory in Browns Lane, Allesley, Coventry, UK, which at the time was being used by Daimler, and moved to this new site from Foleshill over the next 12 months. 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.

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) and the Austin-Morris combined bought Pressed Steel. Lyons became concerned about the future of Jaguar, partly because of the threat to ongoing supplies of bodies, and partly because of his age and lack of an heir. He therefore accepted BMC's offer to merge with Jaguar to form British Motor (Holdings) Limited. At a press conference on 11 July 1965 at the Great Eastern Hotel in London, Lyons and BMC chairman George Harriman announced, "Jaguar Group of companies is to merge with The British Motor Corporation Ltd., as the first step towards the setting up of a joint holding company to be called British Motor (Holdings) Limited". BMC changed its name to British Motor Holdings at the end of 1966. BMH was pushed by the Government to merge with Leyland Motor Corporation Limited, manufacturer of Leyland bus and truckStandard-Triumph and, since 1967, Rover vehicles. The result was British Leyland Motor Corporation, a new holding company which appeared in 1968, but the combination was not a success. A combination of poor decision-making by the board, along with the financial difficulties of, especially, the Austin-Morris division (previously BMC) led to the Ryder Report and to effective nationalisation in 1975.
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 London Stock Exchange (one of the Thatcher government's many privatisations) to create its own track record. Installed as chairman in 1980, Sir John Egan was credited for Jaguar's unprecedented prosperity immediately after privatisation. In early 1986 Egan reported he had tackled the main problems that were holding Jaguar back from selling more cars: quality control, lagging delivery schedules and poor productivity. He laid off about one-third of the company's roughly 10,000 employees to cut costs. Commentators later pointed out that he exploited an elderly model range (on which all development costs had been written off) and raised prices. He also intensified the effort to improve Jaguar's quality. In the US, the price increases were masked by a favourable exchange rate.


Jaguars S-type and X-type

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 (PAG) along with Aston MartinVolvo Cars and, from 2000, Land Rover. Under Ford's ownership, Jaguar has never made a profit, but it expanded its range of products with the launch of the S-type in 1999 and X-type in 2001. After PAG acquired Land Rover in May 2000, Land Rover became closely associated with Jaguar. In many countries, these two brands shared a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships). Some models shared components, although the only shared production facility was Halewood Body & Assembly, which manufactured the technically related X-Type and the Land Rover Freelander 2. 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 SachsMorgan 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 CapitalRipplewood Holdings (which hired former Ford Europe executive Sir Nick Scheele to head its bid), Cerberus Capital Management and One Equity Partners (owned by JPMorgan Chase and managed by former Ford executive Jacques Nasser) of the US, Tata Motors of India and a consortium comprising Mahindra & Mahindra (an automobile manufacturer from India) and Apollo Management all initially expressed interest in purchasing the marques from Ford.

Before the sale was announced, Anthony Bamford, chairman of the 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.


On 1 January 2008, Ford announced Tata as 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 US$3 billion loan.

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 and Rover. On 2 June 2008, the sale to Tata was completed for £1.7 billion.

On 18 January 2008, Tata Motors, a part of the Tata Group, established Jaguar Land Rover as a British-registered and wholly-owned subsidiary. The company was to be used as a holding company for the acquisition of the two businesses from Ford – Jaguar Cars Limited and Land Rover. That acquisition was completed on 2 June 2008. On 1 January 2013, the group, which had been operating as two separate companies (Jaguar Cars Limited and Land Rover), although on an integrated basis, underwent a fundamental restructuring. The parent company was renamed to Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, Jaguar Cars Limited was renamed to Jaguar Land Rover Limited and the assets (excluding certain Chinese interests) of Land Rover were transferred to it. The consequence was that Jaguar Land Rover Limited became responsible in the UK for the design, manufacture and marketing of both Jaguar and Land Rover products.


From 1922, the Swallow Sidecar Company (SSC) was located in Blackpool UK. The company moved to Holbrook Lane, Coventry UK in 1928 when demand for the Austin Swallow became too great for the factory's capacity. The company started using the Jaguar name whilst based in Holbrooks Lane.

X350 Front

Jaguar X350 XJ

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. The Browns Lane plant ceased trim and final operations in 2005, the X350 XJ having already moved to Castle Bromwich two years prior, with the XK and S-Type following. The Browns Lane plant, which continued producing veneer trim for a while and housed the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Centre until it moved to the British Motor Museum site, has now been demolished and is being redeveloped.

Jaguar acquired the Whitley engineering centre from Peugeot in 1986, the facility having been part of Chrysler Europe which the French firm had owned since the late 1970s. The decision to offload the site to Jaguar came as Peugeot discontinued the Talbot brand for passenger cars. In 2016, Jaguar also moved into part of the old Peugeot/Chrysler/Rootes site in Ryton-on-Dunsmore which closed a decade earlier – this is now the home of Jaguar Land Rover's classic restoration operation.

Jaguar's Radford plant, originally a Daimler bus plant but later a Jaguar engine and axle plant, was closed by Ford in 1997 when it moved all Jaguar engine production to its Bridgend facility.

In 2000, Ford turned its Halewood plant over to Jaguar for Jaguar's new X-Type model (following the discontinuation of its long-running Escort). From 2007, it was joined by the second-generation Land Rover Freelander 2. Jaguars ceased being produced at Halewood in 2009 following the discontinuation of the X-Type, Halewood becoming a Land Rover-only plant.

Since Jaguar Land Rover was formed following the merger of Jaguar Cars with Land Rover, facilities have been shared across several JLR sites, most of which are used for work on both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.


Credit: Wikipedia