Jaguar: The birth of the beast
Like many other famous car brands, Jaguar started out as a wheelchair company rather than a car manufacturer. In the old photo below you can see two good friends and future companions William Wolmsley (driving) and William Lyons. The whole Jaguar range.
At that time, inexpensive, but spacious motorcycles could easily replace a car that most Europeans couldn’t stand up to. Motorcycles were experiencing a real boom in popularity.
Not devoid of commercial grip, Lyons suggested that Walmsley set up a workshop to produce motorcycles. The guys received a loan of £1,000 from the bank for their debts, and in early 1922 they entered a small workshop on the outskirts of Blackpool. On September 4, during the celebration of Lions’ 21st birthday, the first Swallow’s wheelchair was manufactured. However, the company was also named Sidecar Swallow.
In 1926, Sidecar Swallow expanded its range of products. In addition to the production of wheelchairs, the namesakes decided to start repairing cars. They installed folding roofs, made interior tuning and other trifles. However, Lyons had a very different idea in mind. In the winter of 1927, he bought the chassis of the popular in those years small car Austin Seven and got behind the blueprints, planning to do with the car the same “trick” as with a motorcycle pram.
For that time Austin Seven Swallow car turned out to be more than successful. Angular small car was given graceful smoothly rounded features, awarded with an oval window, reduced the area of glazing. The rounded “swallow” was noticed and appreciated.
Ambitious dealer Burt Henley immediately ordered 500 cars for Lyons. Companions could only dream of such success! However, the constant arms race William Walmsley could not withstand and in 1935, he left the game, giving up his share of Lions.
Jaguar Mk IV
If you look at the photo of the postwar Jaguar Mk IV, you will immediately realize that the car is only a slightly modified version of the early model SS 2.5-Liter Jaguar.
The young company has confidently trampled its path to the world market, first producing the roadster HK (1948), and then the sedan Mk VII. These cars became real hits. In Great Britain, William Lyons gained fame as an incredibly successful businessman. Not surprisingly, in 1956, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the title of knight.
The most popular car of the 60s was the Jaguar Mark II. And of course, it is necessary to remember the famous E-Type, which Sir William Lyons personally presented to the press in 1961.
However, it turned out to be much easier to destroy the Jaguar company than to build it. When Lyons left the business and plunged into the pensioner’s joy, Jaguar began to bend over. The lineup was getting slower and slower, and the quality of the cars was falling.
In 1983, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. Literally from the bottom of the company was picked up by the energetic director John Egan. Six years later, Jaguar becomes a part of the Ford Motor Company and, judging by the photos, is going through a renaissance.