March 03, 2006

Today in Automotive History

1985 Lyons and Jaguars and cars, oh my!

Sir William Lyons, founder of Jaguar Motors, retired as Chairman of Jaguar Cars Ltd. on this day. Lyons got his start making motorcycle sidecars in Blackpool, England. In 1926, he co-founded the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company with William Walmsley. Recognizing the demand for automobiles, Lyons eventually built wooden frames for the Austin Seven Car, calling his creation the Austin Swallow. Spurred on by the warm reception of his Austin Swallows, Lyons began building his own cars, which he called Standard Swallows. In 1934, his company, now SS Cars Ltd., released a line of cars called Jaguars. After WWII, Lyons dropped the "SS" initials that reminded people of the Nazi SS soldiers. Jaguar Cars Ltd. went on to produce a number of exquisite sports cars and roadsters, among them the XK 120, the D Type, and the XK-E or E Type. Perhaps Lyons' most monumental achievement, the E Type was the fastest sports car in the world when it was released in 1961. With a top speed of 150mph and a zero to 60 of 6.5 seconds, the Jaguar made a remarkable 17 miles to the gallon and suffered nothing in its looks. In spite of Jaguar's distinguished record on the race track, the company is associated most with the beautiful lines of its car bodies--appropriate considering Lyons's first offering to the automobile industry was a wooden frame bolted to another man's car.

Posted by Quality Weenie at March 3, 2006 07:58 AM | TrackBack