Jaguar is a British automaker that produces a small range of luxury cars, including the Jaguar X-Type and the Jaguar S-Type. Jaguar was recently purchased by Tata Motors in a deal with Ford that also gave Tata the Land Rover business and several trademarks, including the venerable Rover name. Jaguar was formerly part of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, along with Volvo, Lincoln and Land Rover.
The transition from bicycle or motorcycle production into automobile production is a common story amongst automakers. In the case of Jaguar, the company was founded in 1922 as the Swallow Sidecar Company in Blackpool, England. The company produced streamlined aluminum-skinned sidecars. In 1927, the popularity of the aluminum sidecars led the company to produce the body for the Austin Seven. It was at that point the Swallow Sidecar Company became the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company. Over the next few years, the company would shift more toward automobile body production and even move to Coventry to be closer to the center of the British automobile industry. The company would build bodies for a variety of manufacturers.
The company changed its named to SS Cars Ltd in 1933 to signify a change from being a coachbuilder to full-fledged automobile manufacturer. The first car with the Jaguar name would come during this era in the form of the SS Jaguar 100. When World War II started, the company primarily produced sidecars and aircraft parts for the British military. The name of the company was also changed to Jaguar Cars, for obvious reasons.
After World War II, the sidecar business was sold and the company would focus solely on automobiles. It was shortly after the war that Jaguar would introduce its famous XK line and expand into North America. In 1954, Jaguar would establish Jaguar Cars North America to market and sell cars throughout Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
The next Jaguar milestone would occur in 1961, when the company introduced the E-type, which was a sleek and revolutionary design which would influence automobile stylists for decades. Even with the success of the E-type, the Jaguar division of what was now the British Motor Holdings (made up of Daimler, Jaguar, and Leyland) was floundering. Sales in the US during the "British Invasion" period of the 1960's kept the company afloat throughout these difficult times. Between 1972 and 1984, Jaguar featured a variety of innovations, including the introduction of the V12-powered XJ12 in 1972 at the time the fastest production sedan in the world. Jaguar world release V12-powered coupe versions of the XJ shortly thereafter.
A major event in Jaguar's history is the nationalization of the company by the British government in 1975. It would not be until 1984 that Jaguar would become an independent company, however independence would not last long. In 1989, Jaguar was acquired by the Ford Motor Company. Ford's mass-production and world car experience would forever change the face of Jaguar with the introduction of cars such as the S-type and the X-type.
On March 26, 2008, Ford announced it would sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors, India's largest automakers. Tata agreed to pay $2.3 billion cash for the two brands. After the sale is complete, Ford will contribute $600 million into Jaguar and Land Rover pension plans.