In 1935 when a small motorcycle sidecar company in Coventry, England, launched a sporting saloon called the Jaguar SS, few could have predicted it that it was the genesis of one of the greatest automotive icons of all time.
Next year Jaguar will celebrate its 85th anniversary, and to get in the spirit this September Motorbooks is coming out with the most impressive book on the marque to date, The Complete Book of Jaguar: Every Model Since 1935 by Nigel Thorley, now available for pre-order on Amazon.
Kicking off with the SS, it covers every single one of Jaguar's subsequent production models in beautiful detail, organized chronologically, with lavish photography and historic material drawn from Coventry's archives. More than 300 photos depict the cars inside and out while tables distill key technical and performance specs.
From the XK120 and XK140 models that put Jaguar on the map in the postwar years to bar-setting sporting sedans like the Mark 2 and Mark X and the incredibly beautiful D-Type and E-Type, Thorley takes us through eight decades of automotive excellence.
Even cars that seems to stray from the fold for a time like the XJ-S are put in context and take their rightful place in the sports car marque's canon.
"There’s always been something special about the Jaguar brand, even at the very start before World War II when the name was just getting established," Thorley writes. "At the time, it stood for sportiness and excellent value, attributes that continue to this day."
The E-Type of course gets its due. It "has become the benchmark by which all other sports cars in the world have been measured," Thorley notes. "As Enzo Ferrari once said, It is the best looking car in the world.'"
Nothing has approached the E-Type in terms of purity of style, and "its overall package of performance, practicality, comfort, and good looks plus value for money when new, and investment potential in recent years, shows that it has stood the test of time, a true icon."
These days, though the business (along with Land Rover) is now in the hands of the India-based Tata Group, it has "continued to develop the Jaguar reputation for 'best of British' engineering and styling," Thorley opines, and is "one of the few British manufacturers to have sustained all that has been thrown at it over the years. Success has bred success."
Even in the age of hybrids and EVs, Jaguar remains one to watch. We can't wait to see what year 85 brings.