Is Your Car Really British? Part Six – Jaguar

Sat 21st Apr 2018

The British Isles used to be one of the bastions of motor supremacy, some of the biggest car brands, names that go down in history. But no more – we may believe that the famous name brand car we are driving is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – unfortunately we are probably wrong.

The classic car manufacturer started life as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, making motorcycle sidecars, before progressing to full passenger vehicles. The company developed complete cars in partnership with Standard Motor Co, and it was from this point on they took Jaguar names.

It wasn’t until 1945 that the company actually became known as Jaguar, due to the name being ‘distinctive and cannot be connected or confused with any similar foreign name’.

Though there was a shortage of materials to meet demand for production immediately after the war, it did not stop the company making some seriously cool classics.

The XK120, XK140 and XK150 all followed in the next two decades, but it was the Jaguar E-Type which is one of the most sought after designs from the 1960s.

Jaguar’s manufacturing plant, Pressed Steel, was acquired by British Motor Corporation in 1965, which changed to British Motor Holdings one year later. The group struggled though and were encouraged by the government to merge with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968.

The brand gained independence again in 1984 when Jaguar was floated as a seperate company on the FT Index and new Chief, John Egan controversially made the brand more profitable, by laying off almost 10,000 workers, but also focusing on quality control, delivery schedules  and poor productivity.

The Ford Motor company made an offer to Jaguar’s UK and US shareholders to buy their stock in November 1989 and less than three months later the company was delisted. Jaguar never turned a profit under Ford’s ownership, though they did expand the range with an S-Type and an X-Type. In 2008, Ford sold the Jaguar brand to Indian car conglomerate, Tata Motors, to whom it belongs to this day.