British automaker Jaguar Cars Ltd. has been manufacturing cars under the Jaguar name since 1935. The company was founded in 1922 by William Walmsley and Sir William Lyons as the Swallow Sidecar Company. Since then, the company has produced a series of notable sports and luxury cars.
The original Jaguar models were the SS90 and the SS100. The SS90 was first sold in 1935 and featured a 6-cylinder engine with a 68-horsepower output. From its introduction, the SS90 met with mixed reactions. While many people complimented the car's styling, it was generally thought to be underpowered. Jaguar introduced the SS100 a year later in an attempt to produce a car whose performance matched its appearance. The SS100 featured a 100-horsepower 6-cylinder engine, as well as a host of new performance features including twin carburettors and synchromesh gears. The SS100 was produced until 1940.
Following World War II, Jaguar made a name for itself as a producer of stylish, high-performance cars. In 1948, the company introduced the XK120 roadster. The car's name referred to its top speed of 120 mph, which set a world speed record for a production car. The XK120 featured a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout and got power from Jaguar's 3.4-litre XK 6-cylinder engine. The car was a hit, winning numerous races and attracting the patronage of celebrities around the world. The XK140 followed in 1954, as did the XK150 in 1957.
Early Luxury Cars
Meanwhile, Jaguar continued to produce luxury cars. The Mark V was first sold in 1948 and was succeeded all the way to a Mark X model in 1970. These cars were designed and marketed as ultra-premium luxury cars and were consistently among the most expensive and exclusive cars available. By the mid-1950s, Jaguar cars were recognisable for their distinct styling cues, such as a chrome grill and the leaping jaguar emblem. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Jaguar luxury cars grew larger with each passing redesign, topping out at more than 200 inches in length by 1970.
Later Sports Cars
In 1961, Jaguar introduced the E-Type sports car. Produced until 1975, the E-Type was offered with a series of in-line 6-cylinder engines and even a 5.3-litre V12 late in its run. Offered as both a coupe and convertible, the E-Type typically ranked among the finest sports cars available in terms of appearance and performance. It became one of the most collectable sports cars ever produced. The E-Type was replaced in 1976 by the Jaguar XJS, which brought luxury refinements to the sports car segment and might be more properly categorised as a touring car. Still, the XJS, available with the same V12 engine as the E-Type, continued the tradition of high-performance cars from Jaguar.
Later Luxury Models
In 1968, Jaguar introduced its X Series of luxury cars. These included the XJ6, XJ12 and XJ8 (with names designating the number of engine cylinders). In continuous production since 1968, the X Series of luxury sedans have competed directly with luxury automakers such as Rolls Royce, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz. In the X Series, Jaguar brought many luxury features to its cars that would later become commonplace. Power steering, new manufacturing materials and digital displays all appeared in the X Series before making their way to other models.
Currently, Jaguar produces 4 distinct models. The XK sports car is available as a high-performance coupe and convertible. Jaguar's XJ fills the role of a flagship full-size luxury model. The XF is a mid-size "executive car" built in greater numbers than either the XK or XJ. Rounding out the line-up is the compact X-Type, an entry-level Jaguar that is still among the upper tier of luxury cars available today.