The Story of William Lyons: Founder of Jaguar Cars

On this day, September 4 in the year 1901, the co-founder of Jaguar Cars was born in Blackpool, United Kingdom. His name was Sir William Lyons, one of the honorees in the Automotive Hall of Fame.

William Lyons
William Lyons (Credit:

Sir William Lyons was the son of a musical instrument shop owner. While studying at a local technical school, he became an engineering apprentice at Crossley Motors in Manchester. Later, he worked as a salesman for Sunbeam Motors (now defunct).

In 1922, at barely 21 years of age, Sir William formed a partnership called Swallow Sidecar (SS) with William Walmsley to manufacture motorcycles with sidecar. Each of them took a loan of 500 pounds, guaranteed by their respective fathers, as initial capital. In 1927, the company produced a two-seat automobile using an Austin chassis and engine. In 1933, the name of the company was renamed SS Cars Ltd. and the following year, his partner left the company.

During World War II, the company manufactured and repaired aircraft for the Royal Air Force. When the war was over, the company adopted the name Jaguar Cars although the first Jaguar model was produced in 1935. It continued to produce cars with powerful engines. Sir William stayed on as managing director. In 1956, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Although he retired from the company in 1972, he continued to visit the factory, sometimes even give suggestions on car designing.

Sir William died peacefully in 1985 at the age of 83. He had two daughters with wife Greta.


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