By 1927, he had progressed to building special-bodied cars, which in 1931 resulted in the launch of the legendary SS1 - a car which set the stage for the first true Jaguar. As the range improved and expanded, it needed a name to reflect its speed, power and sleekness and in 1935 the Jaguar name was born.
During World War II, while concentrating primarily on the manufacture of sidecars for military use, the company also became versed in aircraft design and production techniques. When Jaguar subsequently introduced its new XK120 at the 1948 Motor Show - with an engine output of an unprecedented 160 hp - it was destined to become one of the greatest sports cars of all time.
The Mark VII was unveiled at the 1950 Motor Show and once again Lyons "stole the show."
Jaguar now had a fine reputation, a superb large sedan and a very fine sports car, but it needed a high volume smaller car. In 1955, the company invested millions on designing and developing the Jaguar 2.4 to fill the gap.
After an exploratory trip to Le Mans in 1950, it was realized that Jaguar had the makings of a successful competition car. Consequently Lyons was persuaded that a car should be produced solely with racing in mind. Hence was born the XK120C or, as the car is more generally known, the C-Type.
Three C-Types were finished just in time for Le Mans in 1951. The Jaguars were an unknown quantity, yet the C-Type driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead recorded a remarkable victory on its racing debut.
Meanwhile Jaguar engineers had been working in conjunction with Dunlop on a new development: the disc brake. This was to be Jaguar´s secret weapon upon their return to Le Mans in 1953. With their fade-free brakes the C-Types could decelerate at the end of the three and a half mile Mulsanne Straight from speeds of around 150 mph with complete confidence, and they could leave their braking far later than their rivals. The result was a complete walkover, the Jaguars finishing first, second and fourth.
If further proof were needed that Jaguar was now a world force and the XK engine a world beater, then the emphatic triumph of ´53, against one of the strongest fields any race had ever seen, provided it. By the end of the decade, Jaguar C-Types, and the D-Types that followed, had achieved a total of five victories at Le Mans.
By the 1960s, Jaguar needed to make another quantum leap forward. The E-Type, announced in 1961, was just that. Like the XK120 in 1948, it was an absolute sensation, perfectly capturing the spirit of its time. A true automotive icon, and arguably the most famous sports car of all time, some 70,000 Jaguar E-Types were built over the next 13 years, with around 60% being shipped to the United States.
In 1968, the XJ6 arrived. It was without question the finest Jaguar sedan yet, and met with instant praise. First and foremost, the shape was another Lyons masterpiece. In an era when cars were starting to lose their character, the Jaguar strongly retained its identity.
In 1972, aged 71, Sir William Lyons retired. Innovation and development continued under Lofty England, and 1975 saw the launch of the XJ-S, a sports coupe and convertible that boasted sedan refinement and quietness. A new era began in 1980, when John Egan was appointed Chairman and Managing Director.
Throughout the nineties Jaguar underwent a program of modernization and expansion that saw the introduction of the new XK8 and XKR sports coupes and convertibles and the launch of the new mid-sized S-TYPE sports sedan, ensuring that Jaguar would enter the new millennium with record levels of production and the broadest product range in the company´s history.
In 2002, the all-new XJ, featuring a revolutionary aluminium body construction, was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show to great acclaim. Worldwide sales of the all-new XK range of sports cars, the most technically advanced Jaguar´s ever built, began in March 2006.