Jaguar: A Legend of Grace and Pace

 

Very few automobile companies can boast the history and aura that the Jaguar brand evokes. Known for its graceful design, luxurious yet spacious interiors, and, of course, its unquestioned performance, one of Jaguar’s early tag lines said it all: “Grace, Space, and Pace!”

Jaguar the manufacturer was founded in 1922 by William Lyons and William Walmsley as the Swallow Sidecar Company of Blackpool, England. Lyons had to wait until he turned 21 so he could sign a note to obtain the money needed, which he borrowed from his parents.

By 1931 the Swallow Sidecar Company had developed its own line of high-performance cars, which they branded “SS.” The first complete vehicle produced by SS Cars was the Art Deco SS 1 Coupe.

The first use of the name Jaguar came in 1935 for the 1936 model year, and the products of the factory in the English Midlands city of Coventry became known as “SS Jaguars” until after World War II, when the name was changed simply to Jaguar.

The most famous pre-war Jaguar was the SS 100 two-seat sports car, but the company had also developed a reputation for rakish, high-performance sedans as well. After 1945, Jaguar built updated versions of pre-war models until 1948, when the XK120 two-seater sports car was introduced. Revolutionary in design, the XK120 was also the first Jaguar to use the soon-to-be-legendary XK twin-cam engine. The XK engine, in various forms, was to remain Jaguar’s standard power agent until 1987.

Jaguar grew in strength and popularity with every new model it introduced, from the Mark VII sedan to the ongoing range of XK sports cars.

A truly stunning debut was revealed at the Geneva Auto Show in 1961, when the Jaguar E-Type was introduced to the world. Perhaps no other car in history has captured the imagination of the public in the way that the E-Type did. Upon its release, even Enzo Ferrari commented that it was “the most beautiful car ever made.” It went out of production in 1974 but remains the model that people instantly associate with Jaguar. In 2004, Sports Car International placed the E-Type at number one on its list of “Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.” In March 2008, it was ranked first in the Daily Telegraph’s online list of the word’s “100 Most Beautiful Cars” of all time. This summer, the newly wed Duke and Duchess of Sussex drove off from Windsor Castle to their reception in a Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero, the brand-new, all-electric version that combines iconic ’60s chic with zero‑emission powertrain technology. It was a most fitting choice for both the royal couple and Jaguar, each signaling a step forward in a 21st-century world.

Apart from the E-Type and its most classic models, Jaguar has produced a seemingly unending series of world-class high-end sedans and luxury GT vehicles. From the XJS to the XJ6 and XJ12, Jaguar sedans have set the pace to this day. Jaguar has won time and again at Le Mans and at Daytona, and in 2013 the company returned to its spiritual roots with the introduction of the Jaguar F-TYPE, hailed by critics and owners alike as a true successor to the Jaguar sports cars of old.

In 2015, the company debuted its first crossover SUV with the Jaguar F-PACE, marking the first SUV in the brand’s history, to glowing reviews and numerous awards, including the 2017 World Car of the Year. This year marked another milestone for the luxury brand, with the introduction of the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE. Today, that original motto of grace, space, and pace remains truer than ever at the house of Jaguar, where a robust lineup of diverse luxury vehicles continues to inspire, thrill, and excite.