Jaguar cars have a long history of elegant styling and sporting performance. The brand was born in the United Kingdom, and for years its vehicles were synonymous with the old-world luxury of the British upper classes.
The company traces its roots to the Swallow Sidecar Company, founded in 1922 by Bill Lyons and William Walmsley. Based in Blackpool, England, the company produced a popular line of aluminum motorcycle sidecars. Swallow eventually switched its focus to automobile production, changing its name to SS Cars Ltd. in 1933. The first vehicle to carry the Jaguar name was the SS Jaguar 100, released in 1935.
By the 1950s, Jaguar had begun exporting luxury vehicles to the United States. Created just for the American market, the Mark VII Saloon was introduced in 1951; Jaguar quickly realized it had a hit on its hands. In 1956, the car took the prize at the Monte Carlo Rally. Later in the decade, Jaguar added the Mark VIII and Mark IX to its lineup.The 1960s saw the launch of one of Jaguar's most well-known models. The E-type coupe, or XK-E as it was known in the U.S., blended performance and refinement, wrapped in a sexy package.
Decade later, Jaguar introduced the XJ6C and XJ12C coupes, as well as the XJ-S. A new V12 was put in the XJ12, making it the fastest production sedan of its day. The 1980s saw Jaguar continuing to raise the bar in performance with the launch of the XJ-S HE and a true world supercar, the XJ220.Ford's influence was evident with the 1997 launch of Jaguar's XK8 and supercharged XKR sports cars. Powering both was Jaguar's new AJ-V8, a compact yet powerful engine that was also used in certain Land Rover vehicles.
Sales plummeted, and Jaguar's financial problems caused further headaches for parent company Ford who was also in the throws of financial turmoil. In order to cut its losses and raise cash, the Blue Oval sold Jaguar and fellow British premium brand Land Rover to Indian manufacturer Tata.On 26 March 2008, Ford announced that it had agreed to sell its Jaguar and Land Rover operations to Tata Motors of India, and that the sale was expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008.Included in the deal were the rights to three other British brands, Jaguar's own Daimler, as well as two dormant brands Lanchester and Rover.