Jaguar, E type V12
William Lyons was only 21 years old when he founded the “Swallow Side-Car Company” with William Walmsley in 1922. The initiative was successful and the two partners then started to build special bodywork for custom-built vehicles. In 1926 the first Swallow bodywork on the popular Austin Seven frame was presented. Personalised bodywork on Morris, Swift, Wolseley and even Fiat frames soon followed.
In 1930 an agreement was reached with Standard, which was to build a special frame to fit Swallow bodywork, and SS Cars Ltd was thus established with SS standing for Swallow-Sport (for Lyons) and Standard Special (for Sir J. Black, president of Standard). The new SS cars were soon very much present on the market and Lyons himself never revealed the true significance of the initials. In 1935 the Jaguar made its first appearance with the 90 as SS’s new sports car. It was substituted by the Jaguar 100, a better performer and a two-seater roadster that could reach 100 mph (about 160 km/h). After the war, the SS initials were scrapped since they were a painful reminder of recent events. Sir W. Lyons chose the name that had been made his cars so successful – Jaguar.
The E-Type Jaguar was presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961 and immediately made the cars from other producers worldwide look old. The uncontested queen of the show, with its low and slinky lines, is still considered one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Originally produced with a 6-cylinder, 3800 cc engine, the E-Type was given a 4200cc engine in 1964 and, like the one in the Museum, a new V12, 5343cc engine in 1971.