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The great Jaguar story started in 1922 when 21-year-old Billy Lyons formed a company in partnership with a neighbour to produce motor cycle sidecars in Blackpool where they lived. Following the war, the SS name was dropped, for obvious reasons, and the company became Jaguar Cars.
The new saloon was not ready and so several, more traditional models were introduced after the war. The Le Mans 24-hour race provided unparalleled publicity worldwide and Lyons was determined to win it. In 1961 the E-type was launched in Geneva and caused as big a sensation as the XK 120 had in ’48.
Once a showstopper, always a showstopperThe world-class restoration of 1961 Jaguar E-Type Chassis No.
The first and best known of these was the little Austin 7 Swallow, in open and saloon versions. During the later stages of the war Lyons and his senior engineers, Bill Heynes, Claude Baily and Walter Hassan designed a new engine for a planned radically new saloon car (sedan).
The competition model, designed the XK 120C or simply C-type, was based on the XK 120 but with a lighter body and chassis. A handful of roadgoing D-types were produced and known as the XKSS – the supercar of its age. The three carb 3.8 XK engine gave virtual 150mph performance and superb acceleration but also typical Jaguar docility and torque for high speed but relaxing motoring.


In ’67, the three styles were upgraded and named the Series 2 models (hence the earlier cars have become known as the Series 1 models). The smaller saloon range was supplemented by the S-type and 420 models, and the Mark X became known as the 420G. Until then they had been rather ugly appendages but the Swallow sidecars, as they were known, were very striking and attracted a lot of interest and healthy sales.
Lyons wanted a glamorous engine that would give real performance and offer potential for development.
In 1948 it was decided to launch the engine in a sports car which would gain some useful publicity, garner a few sales and enable Jaguar to try out the engine on a more tolerant bunch of customers.
With the powerful engine, the 120 promised racing car performance on the road, yet with practicality and comfort. Meanwhile, the XK was making a tremendous name for itself on the world’s race tracks and provided an important breakthrough for a young man called Stirling Moss.
The Mark XI followed the Mark VIII and was fitted with an enlarged 3.8-litre version of the amazing XK engine, this power unit also being optionally offered in the XK 150, the range being supplemented by the higher spec XK 150 S models. Once again, the engine was intended for the XJ12 saloon but was offered in the lower volume sports car first. A twin overhead camshaft configuration was chosen as it satisfied those criteria and gave the company great technical credibility. The orders flowed in and the XK 120 led Britain’s crucial post-war export drive, being especially popular in Hollywood.


XKs also distinguished themselves in rallying and record-breaking, proving the car was far more than a very pretty face.
The D-type, often dubbed an aircraft on wheels, came next missing a winning debut by seconds but won in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Introduced in Roadster and Fixed Head Coupe styles, both were blessed with pure, very beautiful sculptural shapes. Still powered by the extraordinary XK engine, the car offered new standards of ride and refinement, thanks to Bob Knight who was pre-eminent in this field.
With the announcement of the updated Series 2 XJs, an additional and very stylish 2-door Coupe model was added in six-cylinder- and V12-engined versions.
Models in 1931, Lyons evolved his thriving company a step further by arranging for the Standard Motor Company to produce engines and chassis of SS design for the company to fit long, low rakish bodies which suggested great performance but did not quite live up to that promise. Such a complex design had not really been produced in serious quantities before and it was a brave move. The Roadster was joined by the Fixed Head Coupe and Drop Head Coupe, before all three were succeeded in 1954 by the XK 140 range.
In 1975 the XJ-S replaced the classic E-type and the XJ saloon continued to be updated, including the very advanced all-aluminium cars, until replaced in 2009 by a completely new design.



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