History : Jaguar in the 1990s – Part Five

Ian Nicholls, AROnline’s historian, turns his attention to Jaguar – and looks at its fall and rise in the 1990s, an era when the German manufacturers were beginning to take over the world.

Here, in Part Five – the final instalment – he recounts how the company ended up heading down today’s road to success under the tutelage of Tata Motor.

Substantial Sales


In the past four instalments, we have discussed Jaguar’s transition from private company into Ford’s flagship brand. However, we have not really discussed what exactly was Ford’s master plan for Jaguar?

From what was said by Ford and Jaguar executives and based on the excellent 1998 sales figures, we come up with this: the plan was that, by 2002, Jaguar would be selling 200,000 cars a year.

It would be achieved this way

X308/350 XJ 37,000
X100 XK 13,000
X200 S-Type 50,000
X400 X-Type 100,000

Total 200,000

The road to Ford’s sale of Jaguar to Tata in 2008 began in April 1999, when the new S-Type went on sale. The top of the range models featured the 4.0-litre V8 already found in the XJ8 and XK8 models mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

New to the S-Type was a 3.0-litre V6 based on a Ford bottom end, with a Jaguar cylinder head. This was known as the AJ-V6.
In the past, the use of a non-Jaguar engine would have been considered sacrilegious – Jaguar had, after all, spurned the Rover V8 and now had to accept a unit based on the Ford Duratec V6.

This impressive engine produced 240bhp at a high 6800rpm and could be had with manual as well as automatic transmission. As related earlier, there was no diesel option. The S-Type shared its underpinnings with the 2000 Lincoln LS and took advantage of the economies of scale offered by Ford.

S-Type leads the way


By the end of Friday 16 April 1999, Jaguar dealers had taken 20,000 firm orders for the new S-Type, worth some £650m at showroom prices. They had received a further 35,000 inquiries. This meant Jaguar was set to produce 80,000 cars in 1999, following record production of 50,000 cars in 1998. The company expected to meet its goal of selling 40,000 S-Types in 1999.

‘During the past six years, we have rebuilt the company, transformed our manufacturing facilities, rethought our production processes and listened to our customers. The S-Type is the beginning of a new period of growth,’ said Nick Sheele, the Jaguar Chairman.

On 11 June 1999, Jonathan Browning was appointed Managing Director of Jaguar and, five days later, Nick Scheele was promoted to the post of President of Ford of Europe. Jonathan Browning came to Jaguar from Ford where he had been Executive Director, Marketing in Ford’s European Marketing, Sales and Service organisation since July 1997. Prior to this he had been with General Motors since 1981.

Ian Callum arrives

ian-callumSadly, on 24 June 1999, Styling Director Geoff Lawson died of a heart attack at the Jaguar Technical Centre at Whitley, aged 54. Within a month, Jaguar named ex-Ford, TWR and Aston Martin man Ian Callum (right) as its new Design Director in succession to Geoff Lawson.

Ian Callum also had the authority to design the cars he wanted to and not continue with the retro theme – this would represent something of a sea change in Jaguar design. In the summer of 1999 the retro look still seemed to be a successful avenue of design exploration, but it would soon hit the rocks.

On 3 December 1999 Jaguar announced the appointment of Stuart Dyble to replace Joe Greenwell as Director of Communications and Public Affairs. After all the public relations effort leading up to the arrival of the X200, Jaguar’s 1999 sales figures were a bit of an anti-climax.

The other Jaguars underperform

Despite having not yet been on sale for a full year, the new S-Type sold an impressive 53,000 cars, so under the Ford master plan Jaguar should have sold 103,000 vehicles – except it didn’t. In 1999, Jaguar sold 86,325 units. X100 XK production slumped 13.61 per cent while that of the X308 XJ collapsed from 36,800 in 1998 to 21,900 in 1999, a fall of 40.48 per cent!

Quite clearly around 14,000-15,000 XJ customers had migrated to the new S-Type, and were not conquest sales from companies such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. These were what one might call substitutional sales. XJ sales would recover slightly to 23,100 in 2000 but, apart from 2003 – the first full year the X350 was on the market – XJ sales would never again top the 20,000 mark.

This sales slump would eventually lead to the closure of the Browns Lane plant in 2005. For many loyal Jaguar customers the S-Type offered all the traditional refinements they expected in a more compact package, which meant it was less cumbersome to drive in urban areas.

On 18 January 2000 Jaguar announced the appointment of Julian Thomson as Chief Designer, Advanced Design Studio.
Julian Thomson came to Jaguar from Volkswagen in Barcelona where he had been Chief Designer. He had also worked for Ford and Lotus.

Jaguar and Land Rover reunited

Land Rover range in the late 1990s

Since October 1998 and the botched Rover 75 launch, the motor industry headlines had been dominated by BMW and Rover. In early 2000, BMW announced it was disposing of the Longbridge plant and selling the Land Rover division. Ford quickly moved in to buy Land Rover for £1.85bn with effect from 30 June. Ford moved senior Jaguar engineer and former Land Rover man Bob Dover to take charge at Solihull.

Bob Knight, JaguarBuyers were increasingly switching to 4×4 vehicles instead of traditional saloon cars, something Land Rover was exploiting with its Freelander and Discovery models, while the Range Rover had been moved upmarket to compete in the luxury car sector and was now a direct XJ competitor.

Land Rover was the future of the passenger car, as dictated by market forces, and Jaguar would struggle in the shadow of its new partner in the Premier Automotive Group. Eventually, a policy of part sharing would see Jaguar engines being used in a new generation of Land Rovers. It also meant the two companies were now intertwined.

On 31 August 2000, Bob Knight (right), former Jaguar Managing Director and  brilliant Chassis Engineer died. He was the last of the old guard of Jaguar’s brilliant engineers and was credited by Geoffrey Robinson as being the man who made the original XJ saloon the outstanding car it was.

Then, on 20 September 2000, Jaguar Finance Director Bibiana Boerio was appointed as the Executive Vice-President and CFO of Ford Motor Credit. She would return to Jaguar as Managing Director.

X-Type: final piece of the jigsaw


The Jaguar X-Type was launched in February 2001, the final part of the Ford jigsaw that would establish Jaguar as a viable player in the premium sector. There was no doubting that the new baby Jaguar was a well-built and competent machine, but it was probably the most controversial car ever to wear the Jaguar badge.

The fact that it shared a floorpan with the Ford Mondeo MkIII resulted in the public at large pouring scorn on its breeding, despite the fact that some of its German rivals also shared major components with more humdrum family cars. Then there was the styling… The shrivelled XJ look screamed old man’s car at a time when companies such as BMW were adopting more progressive, forward-thinking designs.

The 2.5- and 3.0-litre versions used the AJ-V6 engines already seen in the S-Type but with the addition of four-wheel drive. The top of the range 3.0-litre was no slouch. In manual form it could match the Series III E-type Roadster for both top speed and acceleration, such was progress over three decades.

The 2 .0-litre version would be the big seller, but again there was no diesel option.

Sales fail to accelerate

In 2002, Jaguar sold 122,325 cars, well short of target.

XJ 10,875
XK 6850
S-Type 36,150
X-Type 69,050

Again, the introduction of a new car appeared to result in Jaguar customers migrating from the premium models to the lower-priced S-Type. S-Type sales declined from 53,500 in 2000 to 36,150 in 2002, a decline of 32.4 per cent. While it could be argued that the S-Type was more refined than the X-Type, the 2.5- and 3.0-litre X-Types came with four-wheel drive as standard, something the larger car did not have – from that point of view, the X-Type seemed to represent better value for the money.

X350 points to aluminium future


In September 2002 the new all aluminium X350 XJ saloon was announced at the Paris Motor Show. The sales figures in 2003 seemed to suggest that Jaguar was on to another winner, with 26,950 being sold that year, the best since 1998. The XJ series had been rejuvenated in the form of the X350, which had no XJ40 DNA whatsoever under the skin.

The X350 and X-Type had been designed at roughly the same time so it was easy to see how the bigger car’s styling cues had been used on the baby Jaguar. The year of 2003 was Jaguar’s most successful year ever, with sales of 126,100 cars, but this was still way short of Ford’s 200,000 target for it. This relative success was achieved by the new X350 XJ, while sales of the smaller S-Type and X-Type went into decline.

However, by 2004, X350 sales had slumped to 15,000. With each new XJ launch the motoring media had claimed that Jaguar had at last built a car to match its German rivals – in truth, this had been the case since the X300 had appeared in 1994. The luxury car market was changing and, for those who wanted a family barge without stretching their finances to a Rolls Royce, there was now plenty of choice, and some of these had completely different design philosophies to the traditional Jaguar XJ.

Internal opposition from Range Rover

Range Rover L322

As well as BMW and Mercedes-Benz saloons, there were SUV-type vehicles such as the BMW X5 and the Porsche Cayenne, and then there was the L322 Range Rover. The demands for increased interior space had resulted in the X350 being longer and wider, and more of a handful in urban traffic. Luxury car owners demanded gizmos that made their life easier, longer cars in a world of increasing traffic congestion, did not make life easier. An alternative solution was to build a higher vehicle, hence the popularity of SUVs.

Although the Range Rover itself had been around since 1970, the serious drift to 4×4 passenger vehicles did not really manifest itself until the 1990s and, when Jaguar sold 36,800 X308s in 1998, neither the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and L322 Range Rover were on the market. The BMW-developed L322 Range Rover was regarded in the 2000s as a candidate for the best car in the world, regardless of price, by many pundits. Now, with Jaguar a member of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, the Range Rover had been starved of serious investment and the second-generation P38A was an evolution of the original Spen King design.

The L322 was a completely new design employing the latest technology to produce a vehicle to BMW standards and was the pet project of Wolfgang Reitzle, who now found himself back in overall charge of it. By 2005, Jaguar was in crisis while Land Rover was booming. Jaguar sold 84,025 cars, of which only 17,000 emerged from Browns Lane. The decision was taken to close Jaguar’s traditional home and transfer production to Halewood and Castle Bromwich.

Browns Lane closes

Joe Greenwell, now the Jaguar boss, faced MPs over the closure of Browns Lane, later admitting: ‘It was a failed growth strategy. We were over optimistic and we under-estimated the amount of competitive activity, which is a typical and dangerous assumption to make when you are in management.’

At least Ford, unlike BMW with Rover, had the courage to admit it had cocked up. Not surprisingly, the Trade Unions took the view that the Browns Lane workforce had been let down by Ford, and it is hard to disagree with that viewpoint. Ford’s grandiose plan for expanding Jaguar into a serious BMW rival had categorically and publicly failed, and this was in the same year that MG Rover ceased trading.

Was it the continuance of retro styling, or should Jaguar have developed its own SUV long before the F-Pace was dreamt of?

Certainly, the introduction of smaller models did lead to a mass migration of customers away from the XJ range to the detriment of profits. Moreover, while the S-Type and X-Type did have some initial success, it was nowhere near the sales forecasts and, after the launch, began to fade away.

In 2007, Jaguar sales slumped to 54,050, only 4025 more than in 1998 when the company only made two models. By then, Ford was actively looking to dispose of Jaguar, but because it was now technically intertwined with the profitable Land Rover, one part could not be sold without the other.

In 2008, Ford divested itself of Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata of India for £1.15bn. However, remember that Ford had paid £1.6bn for Jaguar in 1990 and £1.85bn for Land Rover in 2000, a total of £3.45bn. Not counting the huge amounts of capital invested in both companies, Ford lost £2.3bn overall in its attempt to turn Jaguar Land Rover into major world players.

Ford’s lasting legacy was to inject modern management and development processes into both companies enabling them to move into a brighter future with Tata, but that is another story.


Back to Part Four

Keith Adams


  1. With Tata’s huge investment JLR have become a fabulous company with a coherent and successful model range in a very short period. Sales of 500,000 a year must be close to what BL was achieving, selling to the mass market, by the 80s. And the success is due to continue: my son was one of c.200 engineering apprentices taken on last year as the company is prepared to invest in its workforce, and in new product, so that it can be resilient to market changes in the years ahead. They are doing this in a way that Ford and BL could only dream of.

  2. Ford saved Jaguar are my thoughts on this excellent set of articles. The myth that the privatised, John Egan run Jaguar was a huge success has been busted, the company was nearly as close to collapse in 1990 as it was in 1980 and the same problems of tense industrial relations, outdated factories and unreliable cars had returned. Ford gradually returned Jaguar to health and massively improved the quality and productivity.
    I know that Jaguar wasn’t the huge success Ford wanted it to be, the obsession with retro styling was costing it sales by the end, but being in the same company as Land Rover, whose sales were soaring due to the SUV boom in the noughties, made Jaguar an atrractive proposition when it was sold in 2008. Now we have a successful Jaguar making attractive and popular cars and a large part of this can be traced back to the Ford years.

    • Working for a supplier to Jag in the 1980’s, I did my best to supply high quality parts; but there was so much bad blood between us and them that we lost the contract anyway. Sad.

    • Excellent history paper.

      Clearly the Ford cars were not attractive or elegant in the sense that Jaguars are supposed to be. The X300 and X308 are sort of OK, but they are compromised and not quite right. XJ90 is what they needed in terms of style.

      The S-type is ugly, a pastiche. The X-type is also ugly. Both were wrong for Jaguar. And then came the X350. That was disastrous. It is clearly an inferior copy of the original XJ. It has lost its proportion, stance and the volumes have been wrecked with some curves over-emphasised or even going the wrong way. Bloated. There is non of the subtlety of surface or play of light the original car possessed.

      What was common amongst these three (X350, S-type and X-type) was the notion one could take some of the design details or features from the original classic Jaguars, bash them onto a body and that was somehow a Jaguar. The trouble was that this showed a contempt for what made the original cars great. It was offensive and banal. What they created was not attractive. The people they sold to soon lost interest. That was no surprise. The cars looked silly and the style aged fast. Then they simply became ridiculous.

      Finally we come to the present and an entirely new look…. What are these things? OK, they have a Jaguarish front grille. You can tell that is supposed to be a Jaguar grille since it has a great big badge that says so. The front lights are weird with plenty of plastic chrome. That just screams gauche right there. Still it could work if the details were a little better thought through. Potentially OK so far but then look at the side view. It aint Jaguar. What we are seeing here is some sort of half-breed Audi sedan and Nissan Maxima/Nissan Skyline sedan. The proportions and stance scream Japanese sedan (one that was designed in the California studio and then cludged up in Europe). Hardly Jaguar. To add insult to the bootlid, the poor XJ has clownish tall tail lights. Just weird and cheap looking. Dare one mention the shiny black plastic c-pillars? What is going on with that?

      Here is the problem. It is all ugly and in bad taste, generic in profile and ruinously inept around the tail. I had wondered how it was that Jaguar styling descended into such a mess. This history paper has helped understand the genesis of it. Certainly the Ford influence on styling was destructive. But that is not really the full explanation. The source of the problem is that the method of Sir William Lyons has been forgotten. He styled, not by drawing, but in 3D by tin-bashing. Look up how he did it. Compare that with the nastiness of 2D renderings done on graphics “work stations”.

      Park a late model Jaguar next to a ’70s XJ or an E. Walk around and see how the lines and the curves subtly interact and interplay on the early cars (especially if they are dark coloured ones). See how they join and terminate. Now see how flat the new car is. Notice how clumsy and heavy handed lines do not integrate with the whole. See how they are interrupted and don’t go anywhere (they fail to terminate properly and just “hang” from some viewing angles). Notice how gimmicks dominate the tail. Notice how they were obviously inherited from childish free-hand sketches where some sweeping constructional pencil lines have not been erased. Awful.

      I think the fact that stylists are now “appointed” from outside Jaguar explains the issue. They come from mass market or elsewhere. They are all trained in the same ghastly generic way- courses at tertiary educational institutes (the last place art gets developed). They come to the company and start “styling” but they are merely hirelings with none of the culture or history of the brand in their blood. It’s like expecting Jackson Pollock to create Michelangelo’s David. Won’t happen.

      Uglified Jaguars is what we have now, I’m disappointed to see.

      BTW, the new Jaguars are not nearly as refined as they ought to be either. Sometimes things are best left to die. Perhaps Jaguar is already dead, for what they are building now is something else….


      • Perhaps the 70’s Jags are more beautiful BUT it’s all about selling cars and making money something that thankfully JLR are doing well at – not staring at them through showroom windows.
        The reason there is no Rover and the reason there nearly was no Jaguar is because of this ridiculous obsession with retro styling and wood.

        From the 80’s the car buying customer wanted modern designs with all the bells and whistles stuck on. Thats why marques like BMW and Mercedes excelled.
        Rovers heritage was based on creating sexy sleek cars like the P6 and the SD1 what the hell were they doing in 1999 (the year before the new millennium) trotting out something Inspector Morse wouldn’t even drive. Same with Jaguar…. the clay model descriptions all had a revolutionary option but they chose the old fashioned option in every case instead.
        Its a massive shame… the UK car industry had got over most of the destruction union practices by the 90’s but in the end were killed by the designers not paying attention to the market.
        Graham Day would have made a good chairman at Jaguar he totally understood about the market and the customer.

  3. Another great article

    Would it be fair to say, that without Ford buying Land Rover in 2000, Jaguar might not even be with us today? A separate Jaguar would have been an unattractive target for any purchaser, with declining sales and uneconomic production volumes – 54000 in 2007 are dreadful numbers, for a range of 4 separate models.

    Jaguar could easily have ended up like Rover or Saab, either closed down by Ford, or limping along to a slow and painful death…

    • Ford saved Jaguar and Land Rover, and also helped Volvo shed its antique dealer image, so did a lot for three great makes of cars. For all the Jaguarists muttered and moaned about Jaguar being sold to Ford, there probably would have been no Jaguar if they didn’t step in and many people at the time didn’t realise that Jaguar was in a terrible mess.
      The articles are interesting reading and have debunked the second great myth about Jaguar being a huge success after it was liberated from British Leyland, same as the first myth about British Leyland destroying Jaguar has been bandied about for decades. ( Possibly there is some truth in the first myth, Leyland subsumed the company into Jaguar Rover Triumph and the XJS initially was a flop, but prior to this, Jaguar in the sixties was losing sales, its quality was no great shakes and BMC helped them fund the XJ6, which really upped Jaguar’s game).

      • I’m not sure it’s true that Ford saved Land Rover

        For all the quality issues in Solihull, LR made desirable vehicles that were selling well. Ford inherited the Freelander – Europe’s best selling SUV – and the brilliant L322 Range Rover

        LR and Volvo overall progressed under Ford’s ownership, but would have been successful under somebody else as well

      • Quote: “Ford saved Jaguar and Land Rover, and also helped Volvo shed its antique dealer image, so did a lot for three great makes of cars.”

        A lot of the “shedding of the antique dealer image” of Volvo was done long before Ford acquired Volvo in 1998, starting from 1991 with the Volvo 850 range and the updated V70/S70 line-up from 1996. The 850 and smaller S40 of course also enjoyed considerable popularity in Touring Cars.

        I can’t say that Volvo was a success under Ford as the company left behind its traditional focus on rear-wheel drive, while the quality of some of the interior appointments did not feel as solid as found in previous generation models. Sales were also no where near the levels of the 1980s and early 1990s despite having a larger model line-up.

  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed these articles. Ford did so much for Jaguar, but the wrongheaded styling direction nearly sunk the lot. From the weird proportions of the S-Type, to the rubbing strips and other adornments that cluttered every model, to the ham fisted read bumper line and slightly flabby appearance of the XK8 practically every model launched after the X300 was a cosmetic dud.

    Mine you as good as the TATA era cars are to drive the current XE and XF are terribly bland on the outside and terribly disappointing on the inside. If a Jaguar isn’t beautiful or at least striking then what exactly is their USP??

    • “Slightly flabby” is OK with me. That description applies to a lot of Jag owners, as well as the XK8.

      I like the later S-types, and quite fancy a post-2004 model with the non-supercharged V8 as a cheap weekend barge at some point in the future.

    • Quoting, “Ford did so much for Jaguar, but the wrongheaded styling direction nearly sunk the lot.”

      And, “….practically every model launched after the X300 was a cosmetic dud.”

      Aint that the truth! And they still are “cosmetic duds” (with the possible exception of the F- just possibly).

      “If a Jaguar isn’t beautiful or at least striking then what exactly is their USP??”

      Well, they’re supposed to be graceful and they used to be refined and possessed exceptional ride. Not these days though.

      What is their USP? There is not a USP for Jaguar any more. They don’t even have a V-12 or anything unique that is theirs whatsoever. It is all “me too” stuff these days. I can get that stuff executed in superior quality at superior price from the manufacturers that developed those items in the first place.

      They stopped making Jaguar some time ago. The future for the company is not that bright. I am sad about all of this.


  5. I have been very careful not to pinpoint why Ford’s masterplan for Jaguar went pear shaped. One interesting thing is that Jaguar have outperformed the German brands in the JD Power survey for two decades, yet have been continually trounced in the sales charts. Why is this?

    • The German manufacturers consistently rank towards the bottom half in any objective survey on ownership. Which, JD Power, warranty holdings reliability index etc. yet it seems to make no difference to sales. The power of branding and advertising?

      • There is this belief that German executive cars are rock solid reliable, are built from granite and last a long time. Also many are sold to fleets, or are lease cars under warranty, so many quality issues don’t appear until the cars become older. I’m not saying what Deutschland churns out now are the equivalent of the Rover SD1 in quality terms, just a massive increase in production has seen quality decline and I don’t think a new BMW has the same quality as one from the nineties.

        • Have to agree from anecdotal evidence of BMW owners I know, and from the surprising number of Bavarian boxes that I’ve seen broken down at the side of the road.

          I think they’ve taken the Ford approach of building cars for fleets and lease hire, who cares what state they’re in 3-4 years down the line when they’re out of the fleet system and reaching third party used car dealers?

          Didn’t harm Mercedes when they decided to decrease quality – note the number of rusty early 2000s C classes and the poor reliability record of the M class.

          • If we’re doing anecdotes, we’ve owned an 03 and a 57 reg 3-series in the past and they were both perfectly reliable (apart from a passenger seat airbag sensor failing on the older car). My parents and younger brother run 14 and 65 reg BMWs and neither have had any problems with them.

            One thing we can all agree on is that BMW dealers are rubbish. I tried a number of different dealers across SW London and Surrey, and never found one that treated me with courtesy and valued my custom.

        • Here here.
          I owned an old 90’s E39 5 series and recently the just replaced F10 5 series… Incomparable.
          The E39 is a super refined, lovely car to drive. The F10 feels like you’re driving an old Vauxhall Omega.

      • Land Rover products have a ropy record for reliability, but that hasn’t stopped them selling hot cakes either!

        It shows that if you have a desirable product, people will overlook such things…

        • ^^ This.

          No-one is buying (or leasing) Audis, Mercs and LRs for their JD Power score, they’re buying them because they look good on the driveway and they impress neighbours and work colleagues.

          I doubt that even “unreliable” cars by 2016 standards would leave you stranded on the hard shoulder in the first 3-4 years of their life. Maybe a duff sensor or an engine management glitch (which requires dealer attention to fix and therefore makes the JD Power ranking look bad) but you’d be unlucky to experience anything worse than that.

          • I don’t know what the appeal of the German brands is. To me they are the kind of cars driven by arrogant management picks, drug dealers, petty criminals, wife beaters and adulterers.
            Would you let your daughter marry a BMW owner?

    • One factor you omit to mention was the price hike that took place on the introduction of X200. The X308 had £10k added to the price, to allow X200 to slide in at a little over £30k. This effectively pushed the X308 out of it’s market. It became simply to expensive.

      • “to allow X200 to slide in at a little over £30k”

        Was that the launch price for a base V6 S-type in the late 90s? Oof!

        No wonder sales tanked. The base price for an XF in 2016 is 32k!

        • Immediately prior to the launch of X200, base model X308 (3.2 Sport and Executive) price went from £32k to £41k. The other models increased in price by similar amounts. That allied with the year long gap between X308 final build and X350 launch effectively ruined Jaguar sales and profits.

          • That year long gap was due to trouble pressing aluminium panels. IIRC, aluminium has twice the “spring back” of steel, so they had to redesign and rebuild their X350 press tools. Meanwhile, they had no plan to update the X308 to the following year’s regulations, so they could no longer sell it. A bit of a wrong move, but this is the risk in innovation – the hard won knowledge of how to build aluminium panels has certainly benefitted JLR greatly in the long run.

        • Actually Ken, the issue was nothing to do with that. The entire front end underframe of X350 had to be redesigned – it was hopeless in low-speed impact, effectively writing off the car at walking pace impacts.

  6. What a great series, really enjoyed reading and look forward to Part 6.

    For me Ford demonstrated you can’t build a premium car by cutting corners and old fashioned design – the S-Type got better during its lifecycle (unlike sadly the Rover 75) thanks to all the updates but Ford content let it down. Jaguar now getting it right with bespoke platforms and targeting the right market sectors (AWD, crossovers and image building F-Type) thanks to the investment and commitment from Tata and the workforce deserves the success for their hard work.

  7. Ford did save Jaguar, however because of their financial issues at the time they sold both LR and Jag to TATA when it was just about to pick up. Had Ford gambled and stayed on board, the investment they made that TATA picked up would have benefitted them.

    I know TATA have invested lots in Jag, but this has been because they had benefitted from Ford’s investment into the new models and platforms.

  8. Ford saved Jaguar, but it can be argued that Land Rover saved Jaguar as well! The expensive aluminium platform and Ingenium engines would have been completely out of reach of Jaguar without first Ford’s money then the runaway success of LR.

    The XF might have been more desirable than the S-Type, but sales are still unremarkable, while similarly sales of the X351 XJ are well below that of the XJ40 and its derivatives, partially because sales of large saloons have been slipping.

    The stunning sales of LR products has masked this. Happily with the F-Pace it looks like Jaguar finally have a massive sales success of their own.

    • The traditional full size luxury saloon has largely vanished in recent years, they’re just too long and difficult to park on congested streets, they cost too much to run, and smaller cars like a BMW 5 series can probably do most of what a 7 series can do for less money. I know the XJ and Rolls Royce will always have their patriotic, very wealthy buyers, but the German big two- the 7 series and S class- seem to have vanished in the last 15 years.

      • Mercedes sold over 300k E classes, and over 100k S classes last year, vastly greater numbers than the XF and XJ. They still sell very well in many markets (e.g. China)

        • Unfortunately it seems that Europe has gone down the SUV addiction that has gripped the US for years. China is a few years behind and eventually you will see them follow the trends set elsewhere. The annoying thing is that these jumped up SUV hatchbacks rarely offer any more room than the equivalent trad car and offer less mpg because of more metal. The only thing good about them is you get a good view from higher up, but with more coming on the road this will eventually become void!

      • Just to point you in the right direction…..XJ was never intended to be a 7 Series competitor. It was aimed at the 5 Series market. It was a car to drive, rather than be driven in. The LWB XJ was Jaguar’s 7 Series type product.

        • I think we’re comparing different eras.

          Maybe back in the old days, the XJ40/X300 was intended to straddle the 5 and 7 series sectors, but nowadays the latest XJ is a big tall limousine of a car, competing squarely with the S class and 7 series.

          I think Jag should give up on trying to build a British S Class, and should instead go back to putting more emphasis on grace and pace and less on space, pitching the XJ against the Merc CLS and BMW 6 Gran Coupe – a long and low-slung four door car with more emphasis on style and performance than interior volume. The Bertone B99 concept would be a good starting point for the styling of such a car.

          • Does anyone know if there is anything in the Clarkson (yes, I know…) rumour that the CLS was designed as a Mercedes interpretation of a Jaguar?


            “The CLS saloon was, it’s said, designed by a Mercedes stylist almost as a doodle. He wanted to know what a Jaguar would look like if it were done by his company. His bosses liked what they saw, his squiggles made it into production…”

            All I can find is that the CLS was designed by American Peter Fink, influenced by LA low rider hot rods.

          • I’ve read that as well, not sure if from Clarkson or elsewhere. It sounds believable. The rear end of the first generation CLS in particular is very Jag-like.

            Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Jag should repay the compliment by having a version of the next XJ as a competitor in this segment. It’s a small but profitable niche – people are willing to pay handsomely for big prestigious cars with a bit of rakish low-slung style. Porsche, Maserati, Merc and BMW are all in there.

          • To contribute to Will M’s question of the Clarkeson quote about Benz CLS styling origins; may i proffer this link comparing the 2004-debut CLS to Ford’s Falcon AU-Series which debuted six years earlier in 1998:


            When viewed in the metal, the similarities of theme and detail between these two designs really is uncanny. CLS appears as an exagguration of the original, too close for coincidence. To those unfamiliar, I invite you to visit the ‘Ford Falcon AU’ Wikepedia page and judge for yourself. Enlarge the picture-block examples of AU Series 1 at mid-page, specifically the green ‘Falcon XR6’ front view (rego YYN 212) and burgundy ‘Fairmont’ (rear).

          • @nota I see what you’re getting at, those rear ends are very similar – inspiration perhaps as trying to balance a large rounded shaped car?
            Though to me the AU looks more like a cross between an S type and a new-edge mk(2? 3?) Mondeo. The XR6 looks like it has had one of those cheap max power-style headlight masks put on. Going for the quad headlight look and it just looks like an insect’s face.

            BA/BF look much better, elegant if a little restrained.

            FG and FG-X look very like large Mondeos (conversely I think a de-Chromed grille gen3 (mk3? 4?)07-> Mondeo looks a bit like a Falcon), full circle as the XD looked like a large Granada/Cortina.
            They’re popular in the UK in converted limo/hearse forms as funeral transportation.

  9. What a fantastic series of articles – very interesting.

    My potted history of Jaguar (open to discussion / ridicule):

    1. Built by William Lyons
    2. Nearly killed by British Leyland (who were not all bad)
    3. Kept on life support by John Egan who bougt time for a saviour
    4. Saved by Ford who probably regretted buying them
    5. Flourishing under Tata

    The question is where next – i think there will be a merger with somneone at some stage

    • I have a different take on it – it was always a bit of a con. They had a small clapped out assembly plant built on the cheap filled with outdated equipment bought at auction. Did Jaguar ever stamp their own panels? Their bodies were built at pressed steel in alongside austins and morrises and yet they weree trying to sell against mercedes. Did they every design a transmission? Mercedes built everything that went into their cars. It fooled a few dumb americans for a while but the European consumer knew better.

      The XE is really their first car.

      • Wow – although your take certainly has some truth to it, especially in light of Ian’s articles, it’s a bit simplistic.

        I am a dual citizen (Swiss and US) but take exception to saying the Americans who bought Jaguars were “dumb” and were fooled. Jaguar’s PR machine may have been a bit of a con, but so many cars around the world were even then amalgamations – using bits and pieces from other companies – even Rolls Royce, with its GM and Citroen-derived transmissions, suspensions and even some engines.

        It’s true that Jaguar had some very dodgy years and some major quality issues, but they managed to produce some of the most beautiful and storied cars in the world. They made magic and set standards that competitors couldn’t beat until much later – even with their limited resources and dilapidated facilities.

        It’s a pity the company didn’t carry through their modernization plans in the 1980’s, when they spent far too much of their profits on their Design Centre – rather than continuing what they did to develop and refine manufacturing technologies and processes with the XJ40. Despite bad decisions, they managed to create and maintain a mystique that lives on today. This “con” may have fooled Ford into paying too much for the company, but the US market saved Jaguar in those times – and not because Americans were dumb but rather because they appreciated the beauty, design and performance of a legendary English car.

        It seems you aren’t much of a Jaguar-fan.

  10. AndrewP, it was British Leyland who funded the XJ12, the fastest saloon car in the world, and its predecessor, BMC, who provided the funding to get the almost as good XJ6 off the ground. However, brilliant as these cars were, the quality wasn’t up to Mercedes standards and fell off as the seventies went on. BL are both hero and villain to me, they had the cash to make the XJ12 a reality, let Jaguar become self governing in the early 80s, but in the mid and late seventies, lost out to Rover for funding and came close to dying.
    Otherwise I totally agree with everything else. Lyons was a buccaneer who came a bit late to the car party, the thirties, who made his dream of producing luxuriously appointed fast cars a reality.

  11. Just to say that having had a diesel Rover 75 and a 2.2 diesel X-type, the Rover is far superior in almost every category.

  12. Ian Nichols should be commended (and I’m sure has been) for writing such a wonderful and comprehensive series of articles on this complex and dramatic progression – Jaguar from the XJ40 onward… Thank you! It was beautifully written and accompanied by great photos. I have been a tremendous fan of the marque since long before I could drive… My first car was almost a Series 2 XJ (lwb 12), but I’m glad I waited…

    In any case, I do credit Ford with saving both the company and the legacy of this most favorite of British car manufacturers… When I see what GM did to kill Saab (for which I continue to mourn), it could just as easily have happened to Jaguar.

    Although I’m not always a fan of Tata and diluting the brands, I understand progress and remaining competitive require enormous investment. As Jaguar moves onward, I feel the storied years of 1995 to 2005 really brought back the magic and allure of Jaguar, which could have ended so badly.

    For all the criticisms and despite all the mistakes, missteps and scandalous decisions, some of these cars are finally being lauded and appreciated for the wonderful creations they were – at a time when cars were losing identity and personality… The XJS has finally become the collectible it deserves to be, with the Ford-improved models being some of the most desirable… I hope the same will happen to other models.

    The X300 models (and even X308) deserve to be celebrated because (despite the compromise of the planned XJ90) they retained the beauty and the charm that made the Series 3 XJ so popular… Never mind that they basically kept the old platform and reskinned it… it was a cost-effective way of improving a car that Jaguar (pre-Ford) had spent an enormous amount of money developing… and finally, the “new” XJ40 became what it should have been in terms of reliability, quality and design… Even the 1992/1993 (pre-facelift) models benefitted hugely from the quality improvements and drove beautifully…

    In the US, the X300 debuted for the 1995 model year, and it struck the right chord with American buyers… Although the interior was still a little too small and snug, it was a lovely car in EVERY respect. We were lucky to order a new-for-1996 long-body Vanden Plas, before selling our rather new Lexus LS400 – and we never regretted it… The Jaguar AJ-16 engine at that time was still very smooth and had ample power – the XJ8 VDP we bought later was even more refined and powerful than the Lexus… but the original “return to the fold” was the best car decision we made. (Having suffered a bit at the hands of a 1987 Series 3 XJ6).

    It’s worth mentioning that the three-year hold-over on the interior (1995, 1996, 1997) made these cars an anomaly – the last Jaguar that held onto the truly traditional British look, giving the cabin an Old World look that cannot be improved any further… combined with the in-house exterior face-lift (based on the in-house XJ90 designs), it was truly heritage-inspired. In 1998, the “elliptoid” cues heavily influenced the interior and all the exterior secondary lights, bumpers, etc. However, the make-over (along with the new V8) for the 1998 X308 brought the car fully to Millenium standards – if just a little less charming inside.

    I hope well-preserved and maintained examples of the X300, X308 and X350 will survive to show the world the zenith of the “heritage-styled” Jaguars, with their vastly improved mechanicals and their incredible style and panache. Although the V8 had later-discovered problems from 1998 to 2001 (both from plastic timing-chain guides and the Nikasil not wearing well with our lower-quality US fuel and sulfur), the last-of-the-line X308’s of 2002 and 2003 represent the pinnacle of a platform that truly dates to 1988… an admirable run – not as long as the XJS but commendable.

    Despite lacking the incredible elegance of the X300 and X308 variations, the X350 did an outstanding job of making the XJ a state-of-the-art luxury sedan in 2004 – arguably ahead of most other marques… only Audi was doing all aluminum “space frame” mainstream… The new car had to be bigger in every respect to compete viably with Mercedes, BMW, and the best Cadillac and Lincoln had to offer… And they succeeded in creating an excellent car all-around.

    The X350 is the last “heritage-styled” cars (or retro, if one prefers) with clear homage being paid to the Series 2 XJ of the 1970’s… but to great effect! The front fascia and the elegant door handles and even the rear tail-light treatment… they are all wonderful. Yes, the car has a few inelegant angles in photos, but in real life, the car has tremendous presence. Finished in high-level trim, with the right wheels, both the short wheelbase and long wheelbase cars have a very special look and were truly modern in every respect.

    Thank you for bringing so much more history to light and for showing that Ford really did save the company and improve its standing in the world – along with bringing us the final chapter of the XJ… Spanning 30 years before the all-new replacement of 2010, the original XJ inspired three generations of cars.

    The new XJ (designed pre-Tata and already 12 years old) certainly held its own and earned a good reputation – and a place in history as the first XJ to break tradition, in a necessary move for the future.

    Wishing Tata best of luck in safeguarding this legendary marque! It has done an impressive job over the 12 years it has owned the company – and joining it with Land Rover seems very fitting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.