Historic Car Brands



As a company, Jaguar has been operating since 1945, but its roots go back to 1922, when the Swallow Sidecar Company was founded. It graduated from making cycle and car bodies to producing its own SS-brand cars before Word War II.


SS sidecar on a 1935 Norton Model 18 – Coventry Transport Museum


The business was founded by William Walmsley and William Lyons in September 1922. Walmsley had previously been making sidecars and bolting them onto reconditioned motorcycles. Lyons had served his apprenticeship at Crossley Motors in Manchester before moving to a Blackpool Sunbeam dealer, Brown & Mallalieu.


1931 Austin Seven Swallow – Red Simon


The first car that Lyons and Walmsley worked on was the Austin 7, a popular and inexpensive vehicle. The result, the Austin Seven Swallow, was announced to public in May 1927. Priced at only £175, the Swallow, with its brightly coloured two-tone bodywork and a style that imitated the more expensive cars of the time, proved popular in the prosperous late twenties and in the following Great Depression. Soon after, the Austin Seven Swallow Saloon was produced.

in 1929 the owners took a stand at the London Motor Show and introduced three new Swallow models on Standard, Swift, and Fiat chassis. 

Bodies on the Wolseley Hornet chassis became the first six-cylinder Swallows. 

Also, John Black and William Lyons produced a one of a kind sports car: the  first SS (Standard Swallow) was a boat-tail roadster and this car is believed to have been shipped to Australia in the late 1940s.


1933 Jaguar SS1 – Aka


The first of the Standard-powered SS range of cars available to the public were the coupe or tourer bodied 1932 SS1, with two-litre or 2½-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine and the SS2 with a four-cylinder, 1½ side-valve engine. A saloon was added in 1934, when the chassis was widened.

However, William Walmsley wished to leave the business and new outside shareholders were brought into a brand-new incorporation, S S Cars Limited.

‘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.


SS Jaguar 100


The expansion of the SS Jaguar range inspired the post-War company’s name change to Jaguar Cars Limited. (Obviously, Hitler’s infamous ‘SS’ divisions had made ‘SS’ an impossible brand.)

In post-War Britain, steel was in very short supply, so Jaguar sold Motor Panels, a pressed-steel, body-manufacturing company that it had 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 its six-cylinder engines.

From this time, Jaguar had its own engine plant, but was entirely dependent for its bodies on external suppliers: in particular, then-independent Pressed Steel. That reliance later carried them into the BMC, BMH and British Leyland tie-ups.


1949 Jaguar XK120 Roadster ex-Clark Gable – Rod Hatfield


Jaguar became world famous for its value-for-money sports cars. The succession of models –  the Jaguar XK120 (1948–54), Jaguar XK140 (1954–57), Jaguar XK150 (1957–61) and Jaguar E-Type (1961–75)  – offered super-car performance for reasonable money.

The heart of Jaguar’s success was its original 3.4-litre, twin-camshaft, straight-six engine, conceived pre-War. 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.


Jaguar XK6 engine – Morven


As fuel octane ratings were relatively low at the time, three piston configurations were offered: domed (high octane), flat (medium octane), and dished (low octane).

Later derivatives were 2.4-litre, 2.8-litre and 4.2-litre versions.

Few engine types have demonstrated such ubiquity and longevity: apart from powering saloons and sedans, as well as its sports and racing cars, Jaguar also used the XK Engine in various military vehicles.


Jaguar C-Type – Eagleash


Jaguar arrived on the road-racing stage with factory-entered wins in the Le Mans 24-hour race: firstly in 1951 and again in 1953 and 1955. Later, in the hands of the Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse, wins in 1956 and 1957 were recorded.

The racing success began with the limited-production, high-performance, 1951 C-type. Only 53 of these tubular-frame-chassis cars were made, between 1951 and 1953 and, while they were powered by the XK-120’s 3.4-litre engine, it was tuned to produce an initial 205hp and, finally, 220hp.

In 1953, the C-Type introduced disc brakes to the racing world. 


1956 Jaguar D-Type Le Mans Winner – Alf van Beem


The C-Type was followed by the D-Type in 1954 that shared the XK engine and many mechanical components with its predecessor. However, it had innovative monocoque construction and improved aerodynamics that included a distinctive vertical stabiliser on some versions.

Engine displacement was enlarged to 3.8 litres in 1957 and reduced to three litres in 1958 when Le Mans rules limited engine size.

After Jaguar retired from factory-team racing, the company modified the remaining unfinished D-Types as street-legal XKSS versions that were eligible for production sports car races in America. In 1957 25 of these cars were in various stages of completion when a factory fire destroyed nine of them.

Total production was 71, or 75 D-Types, depending on whom you listen to at Jaguar.


1940 SS Jaguar drophead coupe – Sicnag


However, despite Jaguar’s prominent motor racing success, it was always Lyons’ intention to build the business by producing world-class sporting saloons to supplement the sports car business. Jaguar’s elegantly styled, luxury saloons included the the Mark V, VII, VIII and IX; the compact Mark I and 2, and the XJ6 and XJ12. 

The first Jaguar post-War saloon was the Standard-powered Mark IV, but it was replaced by the Mark V in 1949 that introduced hydraulic brakes, independent front suspension and more stylish faired-in headlights. It offered top-shelf styling, for around half the price of traditional luxury brands.


1954 Jaguar Mark VII Saloon  – Lars-Goran Lindgren


The XK engine powered the 1951 Mark VII that had all-new bodywork. It was called ‘Mark VII’ rather than ‘Mark VI’, because there was a Bentley Mark VI in the market. The launch horsepower figure of 160hp was upgraded to 190hp in 1954.

Despite its somewhat bulky appearance the Mark VII was a great performance vehicle and a post-1954 M version won the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally. The Mark VIII and IX models retained broadly similar body lines, but the 1958 Mark IX scored the 220hp 3.8-litre engine and all-wheel disc brakes.

The compact Jaguar 2.4-litre saloon was released in 1955 and was followed by the 3.4-litre version 18 months later. (Both models were retrospectively called ‘Mark One’, after the revised model was released in 1959.)


1955 Jaguar Mark I – Lars-Goran Lindgren


The unit-construction body was a Jaguar first and its independent wishbone front suspension was complemented by a D-Type, inverted semi-elliptic-leaf-sprung, live rear axle arrangement, with Panhard rod.

Interestingly, the bodywork was aerodynamically tapered aft and the rear axle track was 114mm narrower than the front. That invited some criticism about likely understeer, but didn’t hamper the Jaguar’s race-winning career, all around the world.

The Mark II was available from 1958 until 1967 and featured the 3.8-litre engine option, in addition fo four-wheel disc brakes and more glass area.


Jaguar S-Type – S Foskett


The 3.8 litre Jaguar S-type, an upscaled and refined version of the Mark II, appeared in 1963, well before the last of the Mark II models. The S-Type had the Mark X’s independent rear suspension.

The Jaguar 420, a more powerful and refined version of the S-Type, appeared in 1966. Both of those models remained in production until late 1968, when the Jaguar XJ6 appeared, midway between them and the larger Jaguar Mark X that had been produced since 1961.

Jaguar purchased Daimler – not to be confused with Daimler-Benz or Daimler AG — in 1960, from BSA. From the late-1960s, Jaguar used Daimler as the brand name for its most luxurious saloons.



The 1961 sensation was Jaguar’s E-Type, described by Enzo Ferrari as: “the most beautiful car in the world”. At a launch price of Stg£2100 it was unbelievable value for a 150mph sports car that featured all-wheel disc brakes and independent suspension.

In 1965 the 3.8-litre engine was replaced by the torquier 4.2 and the second series saw a high-roof 2+2 coupe model arrive. The third series was powered by a 5.3-litre V12.

The E-Type was replaced by the V12-powered XJ-S in late 1975, to mixed reception. In contrast to the beloved E-Type, people loved or hated the XJ-S. 

Pressed Steel Company Limited made all Jaguar’s bodies, leaving provision and installation of the mechanicals to Jaguar. In mid-1965, British Motor Corporation (BMC), the Austin-Morris combine, bought Pressed Steel, forcing Jaguar into a merger, forming British Motor (Holdings) Limited.

BMH was pushed by the British Government to merge with Leyland Motor Corporation Limited and the result was the disastrously incompetent British Leyland Motor Corporation. Sir William Lyons retired officially in 1972, but remained influential with Jaguar executives until his death in 1985.

In July 1984, Jaguar was floated as a separate company and Sir John Egan is credited for Jaguar’s later prosperity that attracted the interest of Ford.


1995 Jaguar XJ6 -Tttnis


In 1999 Jaguar became part of Ford’s new Premier Automotive Group along with Aston Martin, Volvo Cars and Land Rover. Under Ford’s ownership, Jaguar launched the S-Type in 1999 and X-type in 2001, but never returned a profit. 

In January 2008, Ford declared that Tata Motors was the new owner of a combined Jaguar Land Rover.


2017Jaguar F-Type ConvertibleV8 5.0 – Vauxford


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