7 Fascinating Facts About Jaguar Motor Company

The last 130 years of automotive invention have given us some iconic car brands. We have featured some of them in this blog, namely Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

They often represent the top tier of automotive design and are now household names. We add one more to that list: Jaguar. Since its founding in 1922, this automaker has had a tumultuous history of facing and overcoming struggles.

During this time, it has developed several spectacular car models. Here are seven of the most interesting facts you may not have known about Jaguar.


1. Jaguar’s Start Was Making Sidecar

Swallow Model 4 Sidecar Taken at the British Motor Museum

Swallow Model 4 Sidecar Taken at the British Motor Museum

The brand was founded in 1922 under the name Swallow Sidecar Company. When it was the Swallow Sidecar Company, Jaguar specialized in making sidecars for motorcycles.

Founders William Walmsley and William Lyons started the company with a £1000 loan taken out with help from their fathers. They began experimenting with cars in 1927 by building coach kits for the Austin 7 (one of the most popular British cars of the early 20th century).

The name Jaguar first appeared in 1935 on three models including the 2.5-litre SS Jaguar salon and two other sports cars.

However, it wasn’t until 1945 that the company name was changed to Jaguar, a moniker of admiration taken from the ferocious cat of African legend.


2. Jaguar Leapers Were Phased out Due To Safety Concerns

Jaguar Mk II Mascot "Jaguar Leaper" (1964)

Jaguar Mk II Mascot "Jaguar Leaper" (1964)

In the early years of automotive design, the radiator cap on most cars were located on the front of the hood and a hood ornament was placed on the radiator cap for a more appealing style.

In Jaguar's case, it was the Jaguar leaper hood ornament that was used for decades and became an iconic part of Jaguar cars. The ornament was a golden cat with razor-sharp claws and fangs poised to pounce at any car in sight.

It leapt with grace and power as if it had been released from a cage. 

In 2005, however, it was removed to comply with new European Union safety standards for automakers. This was done out of concern for head-on collisions causing more harm to pedestrians in particular.

Also, the radiator cap is now mounted under the hood and no longer needs to be embellished. In addition, hood ornaments were often a theft risk.

Of course, there are exceptions like the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy, which automatically retracts under the hood if someone tries to touch it.

3.Jaguar Has Changed Hands Multiple Times

Jaguar Land Rover Manufacturing Facility

Jaguar Land Rover Manufacturing Facility

So who owns Jaguar? Over the years, Jaguar has cycled through many mergers and owners.

Jaguar was founded in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company. The business expanded to developing passenger cars under the name S.S. Cars Limited, which, as we mentioned earlier, was renamed Jaguar Cars in 1945.

The company cemented its place in history as a performance-oriented luxury brand with classics like the Jaguar E- TYPE. Jaguar Cars merged in 1966 with British Motor Corporation, which for a time owned Jaguar Motors.

British Motors in turn merged with Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968 to form British Leyland.

After spinning off from British Leyland, the iconic British marque was sold to a consortium of Ford Motor Company and British Aerospace PLC in 1990.

The new owners in turn sold Jaguar to Tata Motors in 2008. Despite the change in ownership, Ford continues to develop and supply Jaguar models with various technologies and components. 

Tata Motors, the largest automobile manufacturing company in India, also bought Land Rover in the same year. The two British brands were combined into a subsidiary holding company, Jaguar Land Rover Limited, in 2013.

In fact, Jaguar and Land Rover have shared development facilities in engineering centres at Whitley and Gaydon in the United Kingdom

4. Jaguar Cars Are Tested for Quality in Extreme Weather

Jaguar Testing in Harsh Weather

Jaguar Testing in Harsh Weather

Each Jaguar is made with great care. Each stage of design, development and production of a Jaguar goes through thousands of tests and checks for safety, durability and quality.

For instance, prior to painting, each Jaguar is brushed with ionized Emu feathers to remove any dust particles that may have settled on the surface of the car. Once the paint is applied and dry, the car is run through an oil bath and hosed down with soapy water in a high-pressure wash.

The car's systems especially the climate control and infotainment systems are also tested to their limits in conditions as cold as -40°C at Jaguar Land Rover's facility in Arjeplog, Sweden and as hot as 50°C in the  Dubai testing centre.

The car is put into a wind tunnel where 0-degree cold air and water is sprayed on it. This process ensures that all cars perform properly in harsh weather.

5. Steve McQueen Once Owned the Most Sought After Jaguar: XKSS

Steve McQueen with his horse, Doc, and his Jaguar XK-SS

Steve McQueen with his Jaguar XK-SS

The XKSS story began in 1950 when Jaguar built its D-Type - a sporting racing car for the 24 Hours of Lemans race.

In 1957, Jaguar decided to convert the D-Type into a road car, and the 25 D-Type race cars at its factory were transformed into the XKSS.

Unfortunately, a fire broke out and only nine remained. One of these cars belonged to Steve McQueen, one of the most famous XKSS owners. His car was originally white with a red interior, but he had it repainted green and nicknamed it the Green Rat.

During his time with this rare Jaguar, he received two speeding tickets and eventually sold it. He loved the car so much that he bought it back and drove it until his untimely death in 1980.

Today, it sits in the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles and, with a price tag of around $30 million, is one of the most expensive classic cars around.

6. Jaguar Last Won the Lemans 24-hour Race More Than 30 Years Ago

Peter Whitehead crosses the line to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1951,

Peter Whitehead Wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1951,

Jaguar has won the 24 Hours of Lemans,  seven times. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an endurance sports car race held annually near the French city of Le Mans. Starting in 1923, it is the oldest active endurance racing event.

Unlike fixed-distance races, where the winner is determined by the minimum time, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is won by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours. 

The 1950s were a golden year for British motorsport. Between 1950 and 1959, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was dominated by Jaguar cars.

Five of the 10 races were won by drivers in Jaguar cars, including a hat trick between 1955 and 1957 for the Jaguar D-Type. In fact at the 1957 Le Mans race, five of the first six places were taken by D-Types.

Thirty years later, Jaguar won the Le Mans race again in 1988. Unfortunately, Jaguar has not won the race since.

Jaguar currently competes in Formula E under the name Jaguar TCS Racing. Hopefully, they will have better luck there.

7. Jaguar Interiors Are Made With Bespoke Leather

Jaguar XF Interior

Jaguar XF Interior

Jaguar is incredibly about its high-end luxury car business. The interior of these cars is as much a masterpiece as the exterior. No expense is spared in ensuring that only the finest leather is used.

The leather comes from a special herd of Angus bulls bred in the north of Scotland where flying pests like mosquitoes are less likely to cause damage and flaws in the hide with their bites.

The leather is only made after a thorough inspection of each hide. The hide from the neck and belly of the bull is soft and ideal for doors and dashboards.

When it comes to choosing the leather for the seats, Jaguar's hide specialists prefer a tougher and more durable cut. This is taken from the hide areas that cover the animal's spine and rump.

This is to ensure that the leather seats will hold up under frequent use.

Final Thoughts

I personally think that what makes Jaguar such a special brand is how they pay homage to the past while still pushing the envelope and making something even more beautiful.

Most of Jaguar's designs are elegant, timeless, and technically refined. 

Every detail is important. The technical design of the car is just as gorgeous as the outward appearance.

Jaguar has a longstanding legacy of high-quality, luxury products and its reputation speaks for itself.

What do you like the most about Jaguar cars, Let us know!

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