SS Jaguar and William Lyons - The Early Days
William Lyons, the founder of Jaguar cars pre-runner The Swallow Sidecar Company back in 1922 (where the SS came from), wanted to expand from manufacturing sidecars and start car production. They started to do so in the early thirties with a range of bought-in chassis and an engine from Standard but it was in 1935 that the first 'real' Jaguar appeared and was launched at the Mayfair Hotel in London. It was the SS Jaguar 2½-litre saloon. Very fast for its day with a top speed of almost 90 mph it also came with a low price tag of only £385.
The car was loved by all but lacked the power to really set it up in the prestige class that Lyons fancied running in. Then in the late thirties the car was revamped and the chassis and body construction updated and a new 3½- litre engine fitted. With 125 bhp available top speed now topped 90 mph and 0-50 mph was in 9 seconds, very fast for the day.
The sports car version, the Jaguar SS100, had the classic vintage sports car shape and with the 3½-litre engine was one of the fastest cars on the road, especially for the price of £445.
Lyons and the XK engines
By the time the Second World War started Lyons had built over 20,000 cars and during, and immediately after, the war years he designed the famous XK engine that was to largely power Jaguars for nearly half a century. The first test of a 3.2-litre 6-cylinder twin-cam version was in September 1947. It was quickly increased to 3.4-litres to improve torque output and later on (1954-ish) a short-stroke version was built at 2.4-litres. The engines which powered the new compact Jaguar saloons, the Jaguar Mark 1 and Jaguar Mark 2, also the Jaguar XK120, Jaguar XK140 and Jaguar XK150 and later the Jaguar E-type.
After the war the SS badging for the Jaguars was dropped due to the Nazi connotations.
Some other Jaguar hubs
- Jaguar XK150
Just for once it wasn't the speed of a Jaguar that go the headlines when it was introduced, but how it stopped. The Jaguar XK150 came with four-wheel disc brakes, at last tackling the problem of the old drum...
- Jaguar XK140 Classic British Sports Cars
Earls Court was to host the release of the new Jaguar XK140 in 1954. It had been designed very much with the needs of the American export market in mind and so Jaguar had worked to make the car easier to drive and more comfortable so naturally some o
- Jaguar XK120 - Classic British Sports Cars
The Jaguar XK120 hit the roads in 1948 and stunned a post-war public. A 120 mph top speed was astonishing in 1948 and for only 1,263. The XK120 was the first Jaguar to use the new DOHC 6-cylinder 3.4-litre engine with 160 bhp and it showed, with 0-60
- Classic Cars - Jaguar Mark 1 and Mark 2
The original Jaguar 2.4 saloon was released on the Jaguar stand at the 1955 British Motor Show at Earls Court in London in October of that year. Prices in the UK started at 1,343 but Jaguar had little trouble in selling their new car. The British mo
- Classic Cars - Jaguar E-type (Jaguar XK-E In America)
The Jaguar E-type (or Jaguar XK-E as it was known in America) was first revealed to the public in March 1961 at the Geneve Motor Show. Sir William Lyons, head of Jaguar, expected the car to sell a few...
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