The story of Jaguar Motors, one of the U.K.'s most glamorous car manufacturers began in the early Nineteen Twenties in the not so stylish setting of Blackpool, a seaside holiday resort on the north-west coast of England.
It was there that Billy Lyons, Blackpool born and raised decided to form a company in partnership with a friend and neighbour to manufacture sidecars for motorcycles.
Lyons, only 21 when he became involved in his first business venture, always had an eye for style.
The young entrepreneur soon decided that if he was going to be involved in the manufacture of something so fundamental as motorcycle sidecars, they would not only be soundly and solidly constructed but also aesthetically pleasing.
Lyon’s sidecars, manufactured under the Swallow label, were very well received and sold steadily, providing a young man with the confidence to diversify into producing motor cars.
By the early Nineteen Thirties S.S. Models, as his car manufacturing company was known, got underway, producing compact cars based on the Austin 7 Swallow, in open and saloon versions.
Once again the emphasis was on style, and the first Swallow “ mini” began to take a share of the market, particularly in the North West of England.
S.S. Models next big step forward was to form a working relationship with the Standard Motor Company to custom manufacture both the engines and chassis ,
These parts were produced according to SS design and specifications that would allow the Lyon’s company to attach their own bodies.
These bodies were in-house designed and manufactured, each to a sports car theme.
To add a little flair. Lyons decided to add the title Jaguar to the company, and from the mid-Thirties onwards, all of the cars produced were marketed as SS Jaguars.
Towards the end of the Thirties, the SS Jaguars company launched the SS100 sports car, which was the subject of tremendous critical praise thanks to its winning combination of exotic good looks and excellent performance.
SS Jaguars’ activities were put on hold during the Second World War years.
As peace returned to the British shores, Lyons was ready and willing to continue his dream of developing Jaguar Cars into a market leader not only in the sports touring sector but also to build luxury saloons.
With cars usually styled by Sir William himself, and the engineering department masterfully managed by William Heynes, almost every post-war Jaguar was not only a work of art but a fast car with colossal character.
In the Fifties, Jaguar reinforced that impression with a sports car racing program which saw C-Types and D-Types win the Le Mans 24 Hour race no less than five times in the space of seven years.
One vital factor was the reliable and powerful twin-cam XK engine, which powered every new Jaguar, either for the open road or the racetrack, in the Fifties and Sixties.
Milestones of the immediate post-war years for Jaguar, was the launch of the new XK engine, the move to a much larger and more modern manufacturing plant in Browns Lane in Coventry in 1951.
The only possible cloud on Jaguar’s horizon during the Fifties was having to overcome the upheaval and trauma of the major factory fire that caused severe damage to their factory in February 1957.
Jaguar learned a serious lesson from that fire, particularly in the significant production backlog that it caused.
To prevent the likelihood of such a situation happening again, Jaguar rounded off the Fifties nicely with the successful acquisition and absorption of the Daimler Car Company.