Jaguar Car History, Quotes & More

Jaguar is one of the most popular and coveted luxury car models. Famous for its signature catlike style of construction, the brand has been the chosen vehicle of the rich and famous since its launch in the 1930s. It’s not hard to see why. Built to be faster, yet lighter, the British cars are definitely a worthy competitor to German and Italian brands.

Are you a fan of Jaguar yourself? Here is some interesting information you may want to know. Get to know the brand’s history from its origins in Coventry, England to its current status as a luxury car brand. We will cover information about the company’s history, as well as some of the best cars Jaguar has ever produced, and will even introduce you to Jaguar clubs that meet in the United States in case you want to get more involved.

History of Jaguar

Jaguar Cars Ltd. was founded by Sir William Lyons, a British motorcycle enthusiast, together with his best friend, William Walmsley, when he was just twenty-one years old. However, Lyons would only begin producing cars in 1931 after buying his partner’s share of the company.

The company was first known by the name of Swallow Sidecar Company and would produce the first Jaguar car called the Standard Swallow (SS). Proving to be a success, the SS would sell over 4,000 cars during its original production in 1932-1936. The next Jaguar model, the SS Jaguar Mark IV, would follow the SS-1 to also be a financial success, selling around 20,000 cars as the Standard Swallow began to increase in popularity.

Jaguar would finally get its current name after the Second World War when people began associating the acronym SS with Nazi Germany. Its success would continue after the war, coming up with one best-selling car model after another under the new company name.

The company would face its first major hurdle when its product quality and workmanship showed a noticeable decline during the 1970s due to the effects of the rising labor disputes in Great Britain which also affected American car companies at the time. But Jaguar would eventually pick itself up and continue to make high-quality vehicles undergoing developments in engine performance and redesigns during the 1990s.

In 2008, Tata Motors, an Indian multinational company acquired Jaguar operations from Ford for roughly 2.2 billion US dollars (1.7 billion British pounds). From then on, Jaguar has been known as Jaguar Land Rover Limited, as Land Rover’s assets were transferred and merged with the company.

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Famous Jaguar Models

With around 80 years in the motor industry, Jaguar has produced a long list of popular cars. Here are some of them.

Jaguar XK120

Produced from 1948 to 1954, the XK120 is actually the first sports car that Jaguar ever made. The iconic car is known for its wooden frame, handcrafted aluminum panels, and classic profile. Its intentionally light body was made with racing in mind.

Its name derives from the fact that it can go as fast as 120 mph making the Jaguar XK120 one of the fastest cars in the world at the time. The popular car also served as inspiration for American manufacturers to come up with their own versions resulting in the creation of two-seater Corvette roadsters.

It’s estimated that a vintage Jaguar XK120 would cost around $150,000 today.

Jaguar XJ6

In contrast with the XK120, the XJ6 is a full-sized luxury car originally released in 1968. Proving to be popular, the car is still being produced until today. The Jaguar XJ6 is the official vehicle of the British Royal family and Prime Minister.

Although the model is the first Jaguar produced without input from its founder William Lyons, he considered the XJ6 as the ‘finest Jaguar ever.’ The car is popular for its leather interior and a unique grille. Vintage XJ6s are estimated to cost $170,000.

Jaguar XKR-S

The XKR-S is a modern model which was produced from 2012-2014 by Jaguar. Featuring a low profile, the car focuses on increasing performance and power with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine and a sleeker aerodynamic design. It retailed for $130,000.

Jaguar XJS

The XJS is a luxury grand tourer model originally produced from 1975 to 1996. The model is Jaguar’s longest-running one. It isn’t unusual to encounter them on the road until today. It was made to replace the E-type which was quickly declining in sales at the time.

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Jaguar Quotes

“The art of performance:

Life. It’s not about figures. It’s about feelings. The moments that feed your soul. The occasions that take your breath away. The instances that leave you speechless. These are the moments we live for.”

  • Jaguar Slogan

"Unlike S. S. the name Jaguar is distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name."

  • William Lyons on the renaming of the company

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Jaguar Clubs

Because of its enduring popularity, a number of Jaguar clubs, comprised of owners and fans of the car brand, are still very active today.

If you’re interested in being part of one, check out the directory of Jaguar clubs in the United States. Most clubs regularly hold monthly meetings to talk about and plan out events like car shows, tours, and barbecues.

Membership in these clubs are usually small and include individuals who buy or collect luxury vintage cars. However, there are also clubs who are more open to accepting members who simply have an interest in the vehicles.

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Additional Resources

Want to know more about Jaguar cars? Here are some useful and educational links to trustworthy sites. You can find information on Jaguar’s history in the United States through America’s Car Museum and find written versions of former Jaguar car exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art.  You may also want to check out the Jaguar Heritage archive services.