The Jaguar Motor Company

The Jaguar Histroy and Heritage - Part 1

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"There are lots of ways an Approved Used Jaguar can make you feel good. Naturally, there´s the sheer pleasure of owning one of the most desirable cars on the road. But there is also the peace of mind that comes from knowing your car". This is a quote from the official Jaguar UK website.

Jaguar UK Car Gap Insurance by 1922 the Swallow Sidecar company set up in Blackpool, by William Lyons & William Walmsley. At the same time, Herbert Austin was launching the budget motoring Seven. Lyons saw the potential in this little chassis, and decided to market his own coachwork for it in 1927. In 1928 a saloon variant came along, and introduced bright two tone paint finishes to this curvy little car. Demand was high, 14 cars-per-week put out of the Blackpool factory. Not long after Swallow and Lyons moved down to Coventry. By 1929 he was producing coachwork for the Austin 7 & for FIAT, Standard, Swift and Wolseley. Soon he was building nearly 100 bodies per week. Production continued of the Swallow Seven into 1932, when it made way for a new larger model. Approximately 3500 examples of the Swallow were built, and they are now a marque to be owed by enthusiasts. 

The S.S.1 was the first of Lyons production cars to be built on a chassis by his own design. These were built by Rubery Owen & were fitted with the engines and running gear from 16hp and 20hp Standard cars. The first car, a 16hp, was shown at the 1931 Motor Show, showing the swooping coupe bodywork. In 1933 the chassis was revised & the bodywork changed. In 1934 the SS saloon was produced & was then followed in '35 by the Airline SS. The cars were using the latest engines from John Black's Standard company, namely the 2.1 and 2.6 litre versions. 4,254 SS1s were constructed, production ending in 1936. 

The first sports car to come from the Lyons factory was the SS90 in 1935. Its top speed was 90mph from the open top SS90, based on a shortened version of the SS1 chassis. It was only available with a 2.6 litre side valve Standard motor. It also had a balanced crankshaft and high lift camshaft. Telecontrol and Hartford shock absorbers were standard fit. The bodywork included long flowing wings. There was a slab tank fitted behind the cockpit & behind it stood the spare wheel. Unfortunately its production didn't last the year. However, during this time, William Heynes joined the factory. He oversaw the development of an overhead valve engine for the following years' SS range. So, the SS100 came out in 1936 and, with this new engine it was capable of performing at 100mph. It was produced until outbreak of WW2. 

The Jaguar model was announced in 1935. It featured the overhead valve engine, made by tuning guru Harry Weslake who designed and built an OHV head that could fit to the Standard 2.6 block. 103bhp was the end result. The 2.5 engined car showed a useful increase in performance, the smaller 1.5 car sticking with the side valve unit for a while until 1938 when it too went over to OHV. In the same year the 3.5 litre OHV engine was rolled out, and headed the S.S. models. The S.S.90 was fitted with the new 2.6 OHV unit it became the SS100. Its top speed was now 95mph, increasing in 1938 to 100mph with the introduction of the larger 3.5 unit. It was also now being recognised by racers. 

In 1945, S.S. Cars changed their name to Jaguar Cars & showed their pre-war model line-up, although the SS100 had ceased, until 1948 when the new Mark 5 appeared. It was purely filling a gap until a new shell could be made. Therefore the Mark 5 only lasted between 1948 and 1951. The new MkVII model was soon in production, and was their first saloon to feature the twin cam six cylinder engine, the famous XK. 

So then with no SS100 in production, there was a shortfall in Jaguar's model range. This was filled in 1948 with the launch of the XK120, powered by the 3.4 litre XK engine. Designed by William Heynes, Walter Hassan, and Claude Baily during WW2. The XK used this engine, and featured the 2 seater bodywork along with a shortened Mark V saloon chassis. It was seen as a genuine 120mph motor car. In 1949 a standard 120 was fitted with a faired cockpit cover, and undershield, and taken to the Jabbeke - Ostend autoroute, where it cracked 139.59 mph. They were hand built in aluminium, as Lyons didn't imagine the production running for long. But soon enough demand bombarded supply & in 1950, mass produced steel body shells were used to speed up production. The fixed head coupe joined the roadster in 1951 and a drophead model in 1953. The 120 continued in production until 1955, when it was replaced with the similar looking XK140. 

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We continue our Jaguar article in Part II

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