The 1930s and 1940s
Early success, innovation and speed records
After the glittering launch of the SS Jaguar 2.5 Litre Saloon in 1935, Jaguar quickly moves into sports car production and pioneering work on new engines.
1935 – JAGUAR BURSTS ONTO THE MOTORING SCENE
The first car to bear the Jaguar name was the SS Jaguar 2.5 Litre Saloon, unveiled at an exclusive event in London’s Mayfair Hotel. It cost a mere £385. William Lyons’ SS Cars company also produced a 1.5-litre version, and a 3.5-litre model followed two years later.
1938 – THE FIRST JAGUAR SPORTS CAR
The open-topped Jaguar SS100 had been released three years earlier but 1938 saw the launch of a 3.5-litre version that offered the classic Jaguar combination of comfort, usability and powerful sports performance. With its sweeping profile and elegant detailing, the SS100 was designed for competition and won prizes in the Alpine Trial and RAC Rally.
1943 – THE ENGINE THAT MADE JAGUAR’S NAME
The straight-six engine was first developed by engineers on night-time firewatch at the Jaguar plant during World War Two. The XK version, introduced in 1949, went on to power Jaguar cars for more than four decades.
1949 – THE ORIGINAL XK
The XK120, designed by Jaguar’s founder William Lyons, caused a sensation when it was launched at the British Motor Show. Although the name XK120 was a combination of its engine and its planned top speed, a model with no windshield was tested on the Ostend-Jabbeke motorway in Belgium and reached 132mph, making it the world’s fastest production car.
See XK120 launch film >