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Motor Mouth articles 2010

Jaguars parade to mark a milestone

Masterpiece: a classic Jaguar

JAGUAR, a truly iconic name in the history of motoring, has celebrated its 75th anniversary with an appropriately spectacular two-day parade.

A convoy of 75 Jaguars of all vintages marked the milestone with a crowd-stopping run from CoventryTransportMuseum, through London and on to Goodwood during the Sussex circuit’s recent Revival gathering.

The drivers were waved off by the Mayor of Coventry, who spoke of the pride the city has in the Jaguar. It was at the famous Browns Lane factory in 1935 that Sir William Lyons created the Jaguar brand.

It was born after he took sole control of his previous SS Cars firm the year before. To mark the next step in the company’s development – and steer clear of the inevitable Nazi connections – he realised a name change was necessary.

That new name was revealed at a special dinner at The May Fair hotel in London, and this was also the chosen venue for the overnight stop on the two-day 2010 Anniversary Rally.

Most of the cars were privately owned examples, driven by their owners, joined by some of the most famous cars from Jaguar’s own heritage collection, including the E-Type, C-Type, pre-war SS saloons and some of its latest models. 

The celebration was brought to life by a succession of fascinating snippets of information from Jaguar’s distinguished past. For instance, when Lyons unveiled the first-ever Jag, he asked the gathered audience to guess the price tag on the stunning SS 2.5-litre saloon. The average guess was £632 – the actual cost was only £385. Value for money has been a Jaguar hallmark ever since.

For the 1938 British Motor Show, Lyons designed a coupé version of the SS100. With beautiful sweeping curves and Art Deco detailing it proved a sensation but, with the outbreak of war the following year, the show car was the only one ever built.

At Le Mans in 1953 Jaguar C-Types finished first, second and fourth, and the company sent a telegram to the Queen, dedicating its win to her in her coronation year. Enzo Ferrari proclaimed the E-Type to be ‘the most beautiful car ever built’, a judgement that has been echoed by many people since.

One of the 16 XKSS cars produced was bought by actor and racing driver Steve McQueen, who kept it for 10 years and picked up two driving bans in it, before selling it on. He later bought the car back and owned it until his death.

The XJ220 was developed by a group of Jaguar employees known as the ‘Saturday Club’ who dedicated their spare time to special projects. The introduction of disc brakes was thanks to Jaguar. They were first fitted to the C-Type raced by Stirling Moss and Norman Dewis in the 1952 Mille Miglia.

Jaguar reached a low ebb in recent years, in line with most British marques, and turned out a few models unworthy of bearing the famous name and emblem. It is wonderful to see it in such storming form again under its new ownership, producing fantastic cars that enthusiasts will surely still be worshipping in another 75 years.

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