The background of the brand Jaguar forms the conclusion to our fascinating series about the backgrounds of different car brands. They chose a proud animal as their corporate logo like Ferrari and Lamborghini did. But what’s the story behind it?
The Swallow Sidecar Company marks the beginning of Jaguar’s history. Originally, it was a motorcycle sidecar manufacturer broadening their work to car body repairs before finally getting into the production of entire car bodies. From 1929, they produced car bodies for the chassis manufacturer Standard Motor Company.
In 1931, they released their first car called Swallow. However, it was built on a chassis made by Standard. The two companies couldn’t agree on whether Swallow or Standard would be mentioned first in the model name. Therefore, the vehicle was called SS 1. In 1935, the successor SS 90 was released. It was criticized for making a great visual impact without providing sufficient horsepower. As a reaction to this, the SS Jaguar Series was created which lead to a jump from 70 HP to 102 HP. As many products in the thirties used to bear animal names in their description, the addition of “Jaguar” seemed appropriate.
From the beginning, Jaguar models were considered to be from highest quality and with a great price-performance ratio. After the Second World War, the manufacturer refrained from using the brand name SS anymore – the term was deemed too close to the Schutzstaffel from the Nazi Germany. Therefore, in 1945 the brand name was changed to Jaguar. Unlike SS, Jaguar was a distinctive name not mistakable for anything else. Besides, the term Jaguar was already tied to the successful and popular models SS Jaguar 90 and SS Jaguar 100. Like this, the brand name that is so familiar to everyone today originated from the Swallow Sidecar Company keeping up with the times on the one hand and giving in to social pressure on the other hand.
Not much has changed concerning the nomenclature since the older models like C-Type, D-Type, E-Type, S-Type and X-Type. Current models are the XE (sports limousine), the XF (business limousine), the XJ (luxury limousine), the F-Type (sports car) and the recently presented F-Pace (first SUV by Jaguar). The X originally stood for “experimental”, different versions of an engine were depicted with different letters after the X. Different developmental stages were called XA, XB and so on. To this date, Jaguar still uses the model name XK. The technical nomenclature of Jaguar probably won’t change anytime soon. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to new and elegant sports cars and limousines built by Jaguar.