Jaguars offer oodles of luxury and style in their makeup and design. Not many cars can match Jaguar’s unique ability of high speed cruising in complete grace and luxury.
Jaguar cars success was driven by one man, William Lyons. William Lyons was, in his early years, a “side car” maker in the 1920s. A side car is the additional passenger compartment that is attached to the side of motorcycle. If you have ever have had the chance of riding in such a crazy invention, you will understand the meaning of filling one’s pants. This is mainly due to having no control over how your rapid progress is tamed and being at the total mercy of your maniac motorbike driver (and there’s nothing much between you and the unforgiving tarmac). But even this experience could not divert William Lyons’ side car expertise. But his aspirations were not fully reached, so he started building his own car based on the mass-produced Austin Seven, but with his own chassis and body.
During 1928, the company moved from Blackpool to Coventry which was in the heart of the British motor industry. In 1932, William Lyon’s side car company launched a car of its own, the SS1, which had a 2 or 2.5 Litre side valve, six cylinder engine.
William Lyons was able to lead the company well through the depression years by making a series of beautifully styled cars offering outstanding value for money. In 1935, the first sports car came out. The car was called the SS90, and was called this because of its 90 mph top speed. In 1936, Jaguar SS100 replaced the SS90 and was the first car to bear the name Jaguar. This was, and still is indeed, one of the finest looking cars of all time. Yes, this model is still highly sort after and with a 100 mph top speed and 0-60 mph time of 11 seconds (that’s from a 1930s car and it’s as good as some modern numbers), one can understand why.
In 1948, Jaguar produced the fastest production car. The XK120 stunned the world with its high performance and low price. It had a head-turning design that was created by Lyons himself. These two assets enabled sales of the car to be a worldwide phenomenon. Around 12,000 units were sold up until 1954, when the car was face lifted and upgraded to the XK140 and then XK150.
With the launch of the Mk VII big saloons, sales were not hugely successful. William Lyons then tried his hand at a smaller saloon with the powerful XK engine. The classical styling was brilliant and a massive 123,000 cars were produced. Not only were many touring car races won with this model, but it became the best selling Jaguar until the introduction of the XJ6.
The XK150 was replaced by the E-type in 1961. The E-type remains a truly exciting and expensive classic car. It was a car that epitomized beauty (and that long bumper has given more than one psychoanalyst and body language expert something to talk about) and was once recorded at a top speed of 150 mph. This once again gave Jaguar the acclaim of having the world’s fastest production sports car. At least 70,000 E-types left the factory. In 1975, the very smooth V12 version rolled off the factory floor and offered sublime straight line speed. These models are still prized today and can be found in class ic car dealers’ yard. The Jaguar Drivers’ Club, which has its headquarters in Sydney, has special events exclusively for E-type Jags, along with other Jaguar classics.
Jaguar has won a total of 5 Le Mans championships: two in the C-type (1951, 53) and three in theD-type (1955, 56, 57). After a rest of two decades, the partnership with TWR won another pair of Le Mans trophies in the XJR-9LM (1988) and the XJR-12 (1989), and two World Sports Car Championships in the XJR-8 (1987) and XJR-14 (1991).
During the 1970s, Jaguar’s reputation had been declining until the revival in the mid-90s. Sir William Lyons retired in 1972, and, sadly, the build quality and production efficiency of Jaguar were not enhanced and tended to lag behind other world leaders
But this was to change. The nineties was a good decade for Jaguar. Having leaders with vision and goals created an environment for the Jaguar marque to grow and be nurtured back to some of its former glory. In 1993, a new production line opened at Browns Lane which signaled the improvement of build quality. The first new engine for about twenty years was created – the advanced AJ-V8. The engine was produced by Ford and has certainly brought reliability and swiftness to Jaguar’s cars that rival that of the top German cars from BMW and Mercedes Benz. The launch of the S-Type in 1998 certainly challenged BMW and Mercedes’ supremacy in the luxury car world.
Currently, Jaguar is owned successfully by the the Tata Motor Company in India, having purchased it from long time owner Ford in 2008. The cars on offer have colossal power output and loads of style that are similar to William Lyon’s superb cars of old. Jaguar cars have handling and performance to rival the top performance cars, but now lack the unreliability problems that plagued the big cats a few decades ago. Drive a Jag and you just might be hooked for life.
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