Jaguar (UK: /ˈdʒæɡjuər/, US: /ˈdʒæɡwɑːr/) is the luxury vehicle brand of Jaguar Land Rover, a British multinational car manufacturer with its headquarters in Whitley, Coventry, England. Jaguar Cars was the company that was responsible for the production of Jaguar cars until its operations were fully merged with those of Land Rover to form Jaguar Land Rover on 1 January 2013.
Jaguar’s business was founded as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, originally making motorcycle sidecars before developing bodies for passenger cars. Under the ownership of S. S. Cars Limited, the business extended to complete cars made in association with Standard Motor Co, many bearing Jaguar as a model name. The company’s name was changed from S. S. Cars to Jaguar Cars in 1945. A merger with the British Motor Corporation followed in 1966, the resulting enlarged company now being renamed as British Motor Holdings (BMH), which in 1968 merged with Leyland Motor Corporation and became British Leyland, itself to be nationalised in 1975.
Jaguar was spun off from British Leyland and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1984, becoming a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index until it was acquired by Ford in 1990. Jaguar has, in recent years, manufactured cars for the British Prime Minister, the most recent delivery being an XJ in May 2010. The company also holds royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.
Ford owned Jaguar Cars, also buying Land Rover in 2000, until 2008 when it sold both to Tata Motors. Tata created Jaguar Land Rover as a subsidiary holding company. At operating company level, in 2013 Jaguar Cars was merged with Land Rover to form Jaguar Land Rover Limited as the single design, manufacture, sales company and brand owner for both Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.
Since the Ford ownership era, Jaguar and Land Rover have used joint design facilities in engineering centres at Whitley in Coventry and Gaydon in Warwickshire and Jaguar cars have been assembled in plants at Castle Bromwichand Solihull.
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 in order to buy the Swallow business (but not the company which was liquidated) Lyons formed S.S. Cars Limited, finding new capital by issuing shares to the public.
On 23 March 1945 the S. S. Cars shareholders in general meeting agreed to change the company’s name to Jaguar Cars Limited. Said chairman William Lyons “Unlike S. S. the name Jaguar is distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name.”
Though five years of pent-up demand ensured plenty of buyers production was hampered by 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 that carried them into BMC, BMH and British Leyland.
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.
Jaguar’s sales slogan for years was “Grace, Space, Pace”, a mantra epitomised by the record sales achieved by the MK VII, IX, Mks I and II saloons and later the XJ6. During the time this slogan was used, but the exact text varied.
The core of Bill Lyons’ success following WWII 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 configuration were offered: domed (high octane), flat (medium octane), and dished (low octane).
The main designer, William “Bill” Heynes, assisted by Walter “Wally” 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 Jaguar, 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.
In spite of 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 car, and nonpareil E-Type, Jaguar’s elan as a 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.
In 1950, Jaguar agreed to lease from the Ministry of Supply the Daimler Shadow 2 factory in Browns Lane, Allesley, Coventry, which at the time was being used by The Daimler Company Limited and moved to the 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.
An end to independence
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), the Austin–Morris combine, 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”. In due course 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 truck, Standard–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.
Temporary return to independence
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.Jaguar XJ (X300) a luxury sedan manufactured by Jaguar Cars between 1994 and 1997
Installed as chairman in 1980, Sir John Egan is 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, poor productivity. He laid off about one third of the company’s roughly 10,000 employees to cut costs. Commentators later pointed out 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.
Ford Motor Company era
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 along with Aston Martin, Volvo Cars and, from 2000, Land Rover. Under Ford’s ownership, Jaguar never made a profit.
Under Ford’s ownership Jaguar 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 purchase by Ford, the brand became closely associated with Jaguar. In many countries they shared a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships), and some models shared components, although the only shared production facility was Halewood Body & Assembly – which manufactured the technically related X-Type and the 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 Sachs, Morgan 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 Capital, Ripplewood Holdings (which hired former Ford Europe executive Sir Nick Scheele to head its bid), Cerberus Capital Management and One Equity Partners (owned by JP Morgan Chase and managed by former Ford executive Jacques Nasser) of the US, Tata Motors of India and a consortium comprising Mahindra and Mahindra (an automobile manufacturer from India) and Apollo Management all initially expressed interest in purchasing the marques from the Ford Motor Company.
Before the sale was announced, Anthony Bamford, chairman of 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.
Tata Motors era
On 1 January 2008, Ford formally declared that Tata was 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 at a cost of £1.7 billion.
On 18 January 2008, Tata Motors, a part of the Tata Group, established Jaguar Land Rover Limited 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. The company moved to Holbrook Lane, Coventry 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.
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; which had originally 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 now is the home of Jaguar Land Rover’s classic restoration operation.
In 2000, Ford turned its Halewood plant over to Jaguar following the discontinuation of its long running Escort that year for Jaguar’s new X-Type model. It was later joined by the second-generation Land Rover Freelander 2, from 2007. Jaguars ceased being produced at Halewood in 2009 following the discontinuation of the X-Type; Halewood now 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.