Based in the UK, in the Coventry suburb of Whitley, Jaguar was started by Sir William Lyons in 1922. Initially the company constructed motorcycle sidecars as the Swallow Sidecar Company or SS Cars Ltd, and later moved into automobile production. After the Second World War, feeling that the SS moniker would be unfavourably associated with Germany’s troopers, SS Cars Ltd decided to change their name. Taking inspiration from Swallow Sidecars’ premier vehicle, a 2.5-litre saloon sports model named the Jaguar SS90, the esteemed Jaguar brand was born.
The company’s ownership has had quite a turbulent history. Initially it was bought out by the British Motor Corporation in mid-1960s, then merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation, later to be nationalised as British Leyland in the 1970s. Today, as Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, they are a completely-owned subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors Limited.
The company still retains its Coventry connection, and the company’s design and development teams are based there, along with their Browns Lane plant that manufactures the cars’ beautiful, wooden veneers. Today the cars are assembled at their Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham and the new facility in Pune, India.
Jaguar cars have always had a strong, famous following amongst politicians, royalty, and celebrities, and they also have a long and prestigious history in racing. Jaguar cars won the Le Mons 24-hour race in both 1953 and 1955 and won part of Ecurie Ecosse in 1956 and 1957. It was on the back of their racing prowess that Jaguar introduced many revolutionary motoring developments.
Jaguar has always been a leading beacon in the motor industry, and their big breakthrough came in 1948 with the production of the XK120 sports car that sported a new six-cylinder, DOHC engine. The year 1961 saw the first of the memorable E-Type Jags.
Along with their reputation for sporty models, Jaguar have been renowned for their sumptuous saloon cars, summed up by the company’s motto of “Grace, Space, Pace”. For example, their XJ220 was clocked at 349km/h in 1992 at the Nardo Track in Italy, making it the fastest production car of the time, while the gorgeous trim and finish inside the XJ6 earned its reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious saloon cars.
The Jaguar F-Type, first unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, is designed as a successor to the mightily famous E-Type that was so iconic of the 1960s. Jaguar’s XF is the company’s mid-sized executive car that has been in production since 2008. This award-winning car comes with a wide selection of petrol and diesel engines, from the 2.2L 14 diesel to the powerful 5.0L V8 power unit.
The XJ, Jaguar’s full-sized luxury saloon, has a good track record and has been on the market in various guises since 1968. The 2003 generation cars were much criticised, and the more contemporary and stylish fourth-generation XJ hit the car yards in 2009 as a response. The 5.0L XJS is probably the mainstay of current Jaguar production, with an acceleration rate of 4.7 seconds to 100km/h.
The XK, Jaguar’s sporty, luxurious grand tourer, has been tearing up the tarmac since 2006 when it replaced the XK8 model. The head turning two-seat car is available in coupe or cabriolet versions. The R Models are powered by the growling XFR 5.0L supercharged 6-cylinder V8 engine that can run up to over 500hp, and when installed into the XKR-S coupe it can increase even further to 550hp.
In the marketplace Jaguar find themselves pitted against the might of German engineering, with the BMW, Daimler, and Mercedes cars competing on the same lines of quality, engineering, and style. The grace of Aston Martin and Audi as always come in with safety and value, while the Italian chic of Maserati is always a threat. Whilst Toyota and Nissan produce excellently-made vehicles, there is still a certain cache about the vintage European brand names that continues to hold strong today, as ever.
Jaguar cars are rightly perceived as stylish, chic, and well-appointed vehicles, and people automatically associate them with quality engineering and refined interiors. They are aimed at the high end saloon and sports car range of the market and are priced accordingly. While quality and prestige come at a price, Jaguars provide good status value for your dollar, and behind the wheel they give a comfortable, controlled, powerful drive.
If you want to be the envy of your neighbourhood and ooze sophisticated elegance, then a Jaguar car will provide that level of status symbol. The residuals on a Jaguar may be lower than other marques, but this is good news if you’re in the market for a second hand car. When Enzo Ferrari describes the E-Type Jaguar as the “most beautiful car ever made”, you know you‘ve got a winner.