Jaguar, the well known brand is a name enough! The brilliant idea of the founder, Sir William Lyons (1901-1985), started with the sleek XK120 two-seater and Mark 1 saloon to the sexy E-Type sports car, JAGUAR designed and built many of the best-loved British cars of the mid-20th century. The flair of its dynamic founder William Lyons and his strategy of a billion dollar brand made the Jaguar synonymous with seductively designed and sharply priced cars. But the brand was not built overnight, the obsession of motorcycles of its founder rose to such a level that it settled for nothing less that Jaguar! Born in 1901 in Blackpool, where his father ran a music store, Lyons became obsessed by motorcycles as a teenager. At the age of 20 he bought a stylish aluminium Swallow sidecar made by a neighbour William Walmsley to add to his Norton motorcycle. The following year - 1922 - Lyons suggested that they went into business together and found a workshop for them to move to from the garage of Walmsley’s parents’ home. Swallow Sidecars flourished and in 1927 they diversified by adding their own bodywork to the chassis of an Austin Motors’ Austin Seven, the first affordable car to be made in Britain. Their work flourished and they started to build stylish cars by adding flamboyant bodywork to cheap chassis bought from Austin, Wolseley, Morris and Fiat. By 1928 orders were so brisk that they moved Swallow from Blackpool to the Foleshill Factory in Coventry, in the heart of the British motoring industry. In 1931 Lyons persuaded the Standard Motor Company to manufacture engines and chassis to their specifications and they produced their own branded cars, the SS1 and SS2. Three years later he bought out Walmsley’s share of the business, and renamed Swallow the S.S. Company. And then the story of a new brand name never stopped. The business grew! Soon they realised that the next logical step was for S.S. to develop its own engines, Lyons assembled a talented team to do so. Lyons already employed a talented coach builder to oversee the bodywork in Cyril Holland, and hired a brilliant design engineer William Heynes. In 1935 the S.S. Company introduced a sleek, low-slung car which its advertising agency christened the SS Jaguar. The following year Bill Rankin, the company’s public relations officer and a keen amateur sculptor, designed a mascot for the car’s radiator in the form of a leaping Jaguar.
By the early 1950s Lyons was investing heavily in motor racing, knowing that success there would enhance Jaguar’s appeal to ordinary motorists. Determined to win at Le Mans, he hired Malcolm Sayer (1916-1970), a gifted design engineer who had worked in the aviation industry for the Bristol Aeroplane Company, to develop the C-Type racing car. Believing that aerodynamic efficiency was of the utmost importance to a car, Sayer employed many of the techniques he had learnt at Bristol, including wind tunnel and smoke tests, to his work at Jaguar and based his designs on mathematical principles. The C-Type won at Le Mans in 1951 and 1953, and Sayer was given the go-ahead to develop a second racing car, the D-Type. It won at Le Mans three times in four years,
During the 1960s the company became embroiled in mergers and acquisitions. Lyons bought the Daimler marque in 1960, principally to secure access to its factory and skilled workforce in Coventry. When Jaguar Cars prepared to unveil its new sports car at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show, the founder, Sir William Lyons (1901-1985), insisted that an early production model was driven there all the way from the Coventry factory. The new E-Type only just got to Geneva in time. The suspense ensured that Jaguar’s sexy new sports car was a media sensation even before it was unveiled In 1966 Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation and, two years later, became part of British Leyland. That year it launched the XJ6, developed by a team led by William Heynes. Quieter and less flamboyant in style than the E-Type, the XJ6 and Heynes’ powerful XK engine proved to be exceptionally popular. Lyons then focussed on the next step, the development of the yet more powerful V12 engine under Walter Hassan, which was launched in 1971.
Lyons announced his retirement in 1972 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the year that he had founded the company with William Walmsley. Having built Jaguar from scratch, Lyons had moulded the company in his image and fired it with his ambition, yet had the good sense to hire and reward gifted designers and engineers such as Sayer and Heynes. He continued to offer advice throughout his retirement, notably on the development of the XJ coupé. Yet Jaguar floundered without Lyons, losing its identity and commitment to quality in the travails of British Leyland. Jaguar was privatised in 1984, the year before Lyons’ death, and sold five years later to the Ford Motor Company, thereby ensuring the survival of one of Britain’s most famous motoring marques under US ownership.
This is the story of a great brand “the Jaguar”. The cars that all of us desire! But how it started and flourished is what we want to share. An amazing brand is built in years...combining many brilliant brains...latest technology...and catchy designs. Jaguar followed the animal...its products were based on Jaguar, synonymous with speed, leap, power, fierceness, etc. A theme, an idea is important! A team is important! And the most important thing is your believe...your dream to do it! Had it not been Lyons idea, his courage, he too would have been a normal man, working somewhere or probably selling music like his father. But he chooses to be different. And that helped him. Jaguars designs are new, fresh, they have a feel attached, a sense of power to the owner! Jaguar...the name says it all!