Jaguar began life in 1922 as Swallow, a motorcycle sidecar manufacturer founded by William Lyons and William Walmsley in Blackpool. Soon the ambitious pair found success making coach bodies for existing car chassis, and the company relocated to Coventry. By the 1930s, William Lyons decided he wanted to make a whole car to his own design. He unveiled the SS Jaguar at the Mayfair Hotel in 1935 to great acclaim, and after the war Jaguar Cars was established – a new name for a new era.
The open-topped XK120 was launched in 1948 and took America by storm. It was followed by the equally popular Mark VII saloon. Success followed success: by 1952 Jaguar was world-famous and in 1956 Jaguar became the first car manufacturer to win Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally in the same year.
After the launch of the iconic E-type in 1961 and the XJ6 in 1968, a period of uncertainty followed when Lyons announced that Jaguar would merge with the British Motor Corporation. But the brand managed to hold firm. Ford purchased Jaguar in 1989 and immediately invested in new models, technologies and manufacturing techniques, resulting in the all-aluminium XK, the XF and the XJ.
Now owned by Tata Industries, Jaguar is still winning plaudits with its latest model – the exciting F-TYPE two-seater sports car.
The majority of the vehicles on display within this gallery belong to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, with a small selection being part of the Coventry Transport Museum collection. Established for the nation in 1983, the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust is a registered educational charity. Its purpose is to preserve the heritage of Jaguar Cars Limited and its predecessor companies, with the marque names of Swallow, SS, Daimler and Lanchester. The Trust's major objective is to collect and preserve vehicles and artefacts, both past and present, that relate to the history, industrial development and social impact of Jaguar and its associated companies.
The Trust maintains an extensive collection of over 140 classic vehicles, which it hopes will inspire future creators by demonstrating how flair, innovation, style and excellence in design can shape the future. In addition to this display at Coventry Transport Museum, vehicles from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection can also be seen at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, as well as at various motoring events around the country during the year.
Find out more about the Jaguar Heritage collection here.