Way back in 1921, William Lyons, a 20 year old car salesman, bought a converted ex-army motorcycle with a stylish sidecar from one William Walmsley.
He liked it so much that he struck up a partnership with William Walmsley to mass produce the sidecars under the brand name Swallow Sidecars. A company launched in 1922.
It was a successful enterprise and the empire upon which the sun never set was at its zenith.
William Lyons became more ambitious and started coach building elegant car bodies for the Austin 7 Chassis and motor. The car sold under the name Austin Swallow.
From there it was a short step to building their own car based upon a chassis and engine from Standard motor company, sold in the early thirties SS1. The company soon changed its name to SS Motors.
William Walmsley was content to stop there and in 1935 sold his share of the company to William Lyons.
Who in 1935 went on to produce
the SS Jaguar.
A name that has been evocative of the finest in British automotive engineering ever since. Incidentally the SS was dropped from the name Jaguar in 1945. I wonder why?
In 1967 William Lyons, by the Sir William Lyons, retired and he died in 1985.
And had seen his company absorbed by the ill fated BMC, which became BMH and finally British Leyland, which of course was nationalized under a British Labour Government and effectively killed off most British marques.
Margaret Thatcher privatized Jaguar along with some of the other specialised parts of British Leyland including Land Rover.
And by 1990 Ford owned both Jaguar and Land Rover.
But Ford has never made a go of Jaguar so they have sold it along with Land Rover to Tata Motors of India, makers of the worlds cheapest car, the Tata Nano.
Who'd have thought way back in 1935, when the first Jaguar appeared, that India, then the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, would one day be lord over the best of British.
Just goes to show how times change.