Launched in the UK in 1935, luxury car brand Jaguar remains one of the world’s most sought-after brands.
Major celebrities, including Elton John and Frank Sinatra, have chosen Jaguar above all other marques, but why do people love this unique brand so much?
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History of Jaguar
Motorcycle enthusiasts William Walmsley and William Lyons formed their own business, the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922.
They parted company in 1934 and Lyons launched SS Cars, focusing on luxury vehicles instead of motorbikes. The company’s first sports saloon was launched in September 1935, boasting a sleek saloon-style body and a 2.5-litre engine. It also launched a matching open-top two-seater sports model at the same time, with a roaring 3.5-litre engine. This was the first Jaguar sport car – the SS Jaguar 100.
Ten years later, in March 1945, SS Cars changed its name to Jaguar Cars Ltd, as Lyons, the chairman, said it was a more distinctive name. The brand gained international fame by manufacturing a series of unique sports and luxury cars, including the iconic Jaguar E-Type in 1961.
The marque enjoyed huge success in motorsports worldwide, strengthening its reputation among petrol-heads.
Jaguar has continued to be one of the world’s most prestigious car marques throughout its 89-year history, with the value of used Jaguar cars reaching unparalleled heights. We’ve compiled a list of the most expensive Jaguar cars and explained why they are so special…
1. 1955 Jaguar D-Type – £17.06 million
In August 2016, the most expensive Jaguar ever sold fetched a dizzying £17.06 million at Sotheby’s auction. However, the 1955 Jaguar D-Type was quite special, having won the gruelling 24-Hour Le Mans race of 1956, when the famous Scottish Ecurie Ecosse motor racing team powered to victory. This Jaguar D-Type is the only C or D model still in existence in its original form – which is what makes it so special. It had two private owners following its 1956 triumph and spent many years in a collection in the United States prior to the sale in 2016.
Four vehicle collectors were involved in a massive bidding war before the anonymous winner took the spoils.
2. 1966 Jaguar XJ13 – £11.7 million
The second most valuable Jaguar is a prototype racing model manufactured in 1966. The one-of-a-kind Jaguar XJ13 has a 5-litre V12 engine, a top speed of 170mph and rapid acceleration of 0-60mph in only 3.4 seconds.
Sadly, due to circumstances, it was never actually raced. William Heynes, the company’s engineering director, developed the car in the early 1960s to compete at Le Mans. By the time the Jaguar prototype was complete, Ford had created its mighty GT40, with a 7-litre engine, so the XJ13 suddenly became obsolete and was never put into production.
In 1973, it was rescued from storage at Jaguar by Edward Loades, founder of panel-beating company Abbey Panels, who was instrumental in the development of the bodywork for the XJ220. Now on display at the British Motor Museum, in Gaydon, the XJ13 has been valued at £11.7 million.
3. 1953 Jaguar C-Type – £10.3 million
Before the record-breaking sale of the D-Type Jaguar in 2016, the previous most expensive model at auction was the 1953 Jaguar C-Type. While a rare C-Type from this era can be bought for around £500,000, this one is special because it won fourth place at the Le Mans international race, averaging a speed of more than 100mph.
It sold at auction in 2015 for £10.3 million, which broke the Jaguar highest price record at the time.
4. 2024 Jaguar Pace – £87,000
The newest Jaguar car, the Jaguar Pace, is an SUV-class vehicle, with the F Pace model selling for around £87,000. This all-electric vehicle follows the modern ethos of being eco-friendly, yet it can still go from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.
It has become a leading contender in the modern SUV market, with its impressive performance and sleek design. Its price has yet to reach the heights of its predecessors – but who knows what it will fetch in years to come?
Celebrities who drive Jaguars
Over the years, since Jaguar was in its infancy, the rich and famous have flocked to drive the luxury brand.
The iconic French film star turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot, now 89, cruised round in her E-Type Jaguar in the 1960s, at the height of her fame.
Fellow A-list actor Steve McQueen was a self-proclaimed car fanatic, who starred in the motor racing film, Le Mans, in 1971. He was a classic car collector in his private life, rating the E-Type among his favourites.
Film icon Tony Curtis, who starred in cult movies such as Some Like It Hot, was also a collector of classic cars, including the Jaguar E-Type roadster in the 1960s.
Rock and pop legend Elton John, now 76, had a Jaguar E-Type for many years, before selling it in 2012. He also has a classic 1965 Jaguar XKE Series I 4.2-litre roadster.
Crooner, actor and style icon Frank Sinatra was also a big fan of the E-Type Jaguar, buying one in 1961, as soon as it was launched.
It’s not only film stars who favour Jaguar: members of the Royal family are known to favour the British brand. The late Queen Elizabeth II spoke of how she personally loved Jaguars and had owned several.
Former world number one tennis player, Scotsman Andy Murray, has added a new electric Jaguar I Pace to his collection.
Jaguar cars in the movies
As well as having celebrity owners, Jaguar cars have featured in plenty of films. In the 2004 comedy horror, Shaun of the Dead, the survivors of a zombie apocalypse escape the flesh-eating undead through the rapid acceleration of their 1986 Jaguar XJ12.
The marque has also featured in the iconic James Bond 007 movies, most notably in Die Another Day in 2002, when the villain drove the latest Jaguar XKR, which was modified with mortar bombs and rockets.
Iconic British heist movie, The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine as criminal Charlie Croker in 1969, featured a 1961 E-Type Jaguar. Although the bodywork was damaged during filming, the car was lovingly restored and is in a private collection today.
Pawn classic car
If you’re the proud owner of a Jaguar and need to raise capital urgently, car pawning is an increasingly popular way of raising funds without the hassle and wait of using a traditional bank.
To pawn classic and luxury cars, logbook loans are secured on the vehicle, although the owner can continue driving their car until the loan is repaid.