Jaguar – The “Leaper”

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What started out in 1922 as British production of a motorcycle sidecar would later evolve into the company we now know as Jaguar. Swallow Sidecar Company was founded by two men, William Lyons and William Walmsley. Later Walmsley was bought out by Lyons and the company was renamed S.S. Cars Limited, but it wasn’t until 1935 the name S.S. Jaguar name appeared on the SS90 model. In 1936, to circumvent any implications of being associated with S.S. Nazi party, the S.S. was dropped and Jaguar (initially the model name of SS) and became the make we know today. The company officially became known as Jaguar Cars Limited in 1945.

“Grace, Space and Pace,” the slogan which summed up in four words their desire to provide an elegant- state of the art car, the company used a leaping jaguar to reflect the cars’ graceful design, strength and speed. The hood ornament, referred to as the “Leaper,” is the company’s symbol of “leaping forward.” Once a hood ornament whose beginnings date back to 1945, the silver plated feline emblem is presently housed on the trunk.

The “Grinner” or “Growler” as it has been termed, is the ferocious feline inset on the steering wheel and is proudly displayed on the front grille of the current Jaguar line-up. The silver chromed face is on a red back ground, silver representing sophistication and red representing the passion for the drive.

Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars (available now on Amazon)

Some Jaguar trivia; William Lyons, also known as “Mr. Jaguar,” was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1956 for his services to British industry. Further, Enzo Ferrari, the founder of Ferrari, has been quoted as saying “Jaguar’s E-Type is the most beautiful car in the world.”

Through the years Jaguar has been owned by several companies, including Ford from 1990-2008. Currently, Jaguar is owned by the Indian company Tata Motors which purchased the company in 2008 and is headquartered in Coventry, England.


Jason Paynter is a classic car appraiser, collector and unabashed enthusiast. He is also author of the book, Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars, available at Amazon. He lives in Louisville, KY with his beautiful wife and three sons who are (heaven help him) of driving age.

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