Sunday, April 14, 2013

How did Jaguar get started as a car company, quite oddly, as a side car maker

The Swallow Sidecar Company was founded on 4 September 1922 by two friends, William Walmsley and William Lyons.

Both families lived in the same street in Blackpool, England. Walmsley had previously been making sidecars and bolting them onto reconditioned motorcycles. Lyons had served his apprenticeship at Crossley Motors in Manchester before moving to Brown and Mallalieu as a junior salesman.

 Lyons, having recognized the commercial potential for these sidecars, joined Walmsley and together they obtained premises in Blackpool. With a small team of employees they were able to begin commercial production of the motorcycle sidecars.

 The company diversified in 1926, changing its name to the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company and moved into the car coachwork business.

 In 1927 the "Sidecar" was dropped from the name, and it became the Swallow Coachbuilding Company. The increasing demand for Swallows made it necessary to move the company closer to the heart of the British car industry and so, in 1928, they moved to a part disused First World War munitions factory in Coventry. Business continued to grow and in 1929 the company was sufficiently confident to go to the expense of taking a stand at the London Motor Show.

In 1929 John Black and William Lyons realized a long standing dream and produced a one of a kind sports car, This "First" SS (Standard Swallow) was a sleek Boat Tail Roadster with a flowing, streamlined design and pointed to an obvious attempt at making a fast car, possibly with the intention of venturing into racing. This car is believed to have been shipped to Australia in the late 40s.

 Lyons wanted to move away from just being a coach builder and reliance on other manufacturers' existing chassis. He commissioned a custom chassis from the Standard Motor Company. At the 1931 Motor Show he unveiled the S.S.1 coupĂ© and a smaller 1 litre version, the S.S.II. The continued success and expansion of the SS range resulted in the creation of the S.S. Cars Ltd motor company by Lyons in 1934.

After the Second World War, due to the unfavorable connotations of the SS initials, the company was renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd in 1945.

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