Jaguar is a British luxury car brand with a strong racing heritage and a reputation for designing opulent interiors.
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In 1922, motorcycle enthusiasts William Lyons and William Walmsley founded the Swallow Sidecar Company (SSC) which, as the name suggests, specialized in sidecar manufacturing. While working on their bikes, the two men managed to create a first automobile, the SS1. Equipped with a six-cylinder engine, it made its public debut at a London exhibit in 1931. The less powerful, four-cylinder SS2 followed soon afterwards.
The company became known as SS Cars in 1933 and William Lyons took the reins. Two years later, the first official Jaguar was born. Able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 10.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 160 km/h, the SS Jaguar 100 quickly made its mark in auto races.
Shortly before World War II, the ''SS'' designation was removed to prevent people from associating Jaguar with the Nazi regime. During the conflict, the company exclusively manufactured sidecars in an effort to support the nation.
In 1948, Jaguar's fastest automobile ever hit the stage. Inspired from the BMW 328 and featuring a 3.4-litre six-cylinder, the XK 120 could fly at 193 km/h. It spawned two variants, including the 1951 Fixed Head Coupe and 1953 Drophead Coupe.
The XK 120 evolved to become the 190-horsepower XK 140 in 1954, the same year Jaguar racing teams got the legendary D-Type.
At the start of the 1960s, William Lyons purchased Daimler (not to be confused with Daimler-Benz or Daimler AG) and developed the E-Type, the brand's most iconic model even to this day.
Jaguar then merged with British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1966. BMC, which already owned Austin-Healey and MG, in turn merged with Leyland (owner of Triumph and Rover) to form British Leyland Motor Company.
Meanwhile, the XJ6, XKE Series 1 and Series 2, and E-Type Series 3 landed on the market as the automaker faced serious financial problems. The British government unsuccessfully seized control in 1975 and Jaguar remained on the bubble for several years.
The launch of the XJ40 brought light at the end of the tunnel, freeing the company from federal stewardship in 1984.
Ford stepped in and purchased Jaguar for $2.56 billion in 1990. Production facilities received upgrades before giving birth to the XK8 and XKR sports coupes. The XJ220 concept unveiled in 1992 got mixed reviews, so the classic 6.2-litre V12 engine was replaced with a 3.5-litre turbocharged V6. All-wheel drive also was discarded in favour of rear-wheel drive.
From then on, the XJ, XK and XF became the only models sold by Jaguar, despite the brand being acquired by Indian automaker Tata Motors in 2008.
Consistency is a good thing. Familiarity is something we humans thrive on; we don't like change or at least we don't often welcome it with open arms. In the auto industry, change is often a necessary evil, but is also something (I've come to notice this) few do often.
Have you noticed Jaguar lately? I mean to say, as opposed to in the last two decades or so? Seriously, Jag is on the prowl (had to...), improving upon or introducing new products and a concept over roughly 24 months.
There are few manufacturers that can pull off a vehicle model that changes so sparingly over the years that one has a hard time distinguishing model year from model year. Porsche immediately comes to mind, their 911 is an automotive staple and one that's seen very few changes in its shape over the years. Even Ferrari tends to stick to a certain "routine" when it comes to their vehicles.
Jaguar announced at the 2014 Geneva Auto Show the name of its all-new midsize luxury sports sedan -- XE. Global deliveries will begin in 2015.
The new 2015 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake will soon make its world debut at the Geneva Auto Show. Set to rival other high-performance wagons like the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG, this 5-door model will go on sale in the U.K. on April 1st at £82,495 (roughly $153,000).
I was privileged enough to attend a special drive event hosted by Jaguar Land Rover Canada at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. Last week, I detailed my extreme off-road experience with big Land Rovers; now, as promised, it's time to focus on some adrenaline-packed 2014 Jaguar F-Type roadsters I also drove.