Founded as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, the brand now known as Jaguar did not assume its current name until after World War II. Today, Jaguar builds a line of automobiles and is tied in with Land Rover. Both British marques are now owned by Tata Motors, an Indian manufacturing conglomerate.
From motorcycle sidecars to automobiles, the Swallow Sidecar Company launched its first automobile, the Austin 7 in 1929. A number of two- and four-seat roadsters were built and in 1935 SS Cars purchased controlling interest in the company. That same year the new models were known as SS Jaguar and were produced until wartime hostilities commenced in 1940. As the war came to an end, the company was renamed Jaguar Cars Limited.
Beginning in 1948 and extending well into the 1970s, Jaguar produced a series of sports cars, including the Jaguar XK120 and the E-Type. Its motorsport success got started in the 1950s, when its C-Type and D-Type sports cars combined to win five 24 Hours of Le Mans races during that decade.
In 1966, Jaguar merged with the British Motor Corporation and two years later that company merged with British Leyland. In 1984, Jaguar was separated from the pack and operated on its own before the Ford Motor Company purchased it and Land Rover in 1989. Ford maintained ownership until 2008 when the two brands were sold to Tata Motors.
Jaguar has long been known as a builder of compact to large executive sedans, along with its sports models. Its longest continually running model line is the Jaguar XJ, a full-size sedan introduced in 1968 that also briefly spawned a coupe and a convertible. Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, the XJ line was the only Jaguar available for American consumers, available in coupe, convertible and sedan body styles with six- and 12-cylinder engines powering the line.
Under Ford’s management, new Jaguar models hit the market in the late 1990s, including the XK, Vanden Plas, and just before the start of the new millennium, a midsize X-Type to compete against the likes of the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Jaguar followed the X-Type with the S-Type, a compact sedan covering the entry-level luxury market. That model stayed in production until 2009.
Under its present owners, Jaguar has experienced many changes with supercharged six- and eight-cylinder engines powering most models. In 2011, its flagship XJ was modernized and its other models followed. A new F-Type was released based on its spiritual successor, the E-Type.