Old Jaguar Cars that Have Become Motoring Icons

For almost ninety years, Jaguar has produced some of the most desirable motorcars on the market. The small company that started out in the 1920s making sidecars for motorcycles has gone on to make some of the most beautiful, ground-breaking and iconic cars that have ever put rubber on the road. From vintage Jaguar cars to the old Jaguar sports cars, read on to find out which are the most iconic Jags of all time.

Automotive History Petrolhead Zone
16 May 2022

Jaguar is a byword for quintessentially British luxury motoring. The Coventry car maker has produced some of the most famous Jags of all time including what many believe to be the greatest car ever built – the E-Type.

From the first Swallow Sports cars to today’s e-cars and perfectly poised, purring petrol-driven powerhouses, each one is coveted for its unrivalled charm, eye-watering good looks and sense of theatre you can’t get anywhere else.

Some you’ll know, some you won’t but there’s no denying that these are some awesome automobiles! Here are the finest old Jaguar models.

SS Jaguar 100 | 1936 - 1939 | Approx. 314 built

1937 SS 100 (Photo: Heritage Images via Getty Images)

The first car to carry the famous Jaguar name was the company’s move into the exotic world of sports cars. Available for £395 as a 2.7-litre straight-six, and from 1938 in a 3.5-litre version for £445, the SS 100 is one of the most beautiful of all 1930s sports cars. It was an automobile that exuded Thirties glamour from every curve and as old Jaguar sports cars go, this was definitely one of the best.

Jaguar Mark VII | 1951 - 1956 | Approx. 31,000 built

A Jaguar Mark VII saloon c.1955 (Photo: Archive Photos via Getty Images)

The last of the vintage Jaguar cars with those gorgeous art deco rear-wheel spats, the Mark VII replaced the Mark V. It was the car that pioneered the notion that a gloriously opulent, luxurious saloon car could also hold its own against the very best sports cars of the day. It was the first big cat to be offered with an automatic gearbox, and all for a modest £1,276. The Mark VII was such a superb car that HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother took delivery of one – registration number NLT 7 – in 1955, finished in a unique version of royal Claret. Truly one of the all-time great old Jaguar models.

Jaguar D-Type | 1954 - 1957 | Approx. 75 built

1954 Jaguar D-type (Photo: Michael Cole via Getty Images)

The D-Type may not be as well known as the other old Jaguar cars on this list but it has gone down in history as one of the most important in the company’s timeline. It was designed and built with the sole purpose of winning the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race – and it did, three times. It was not only unstoppable, but was sensational to look at. It was a curvaceous, geometric and aerodynamic masterpiece.

Jaguar XK140 | 1954 - 1957 | Approx. 8,950 built

1955 Jaguar XK140 (Photo: Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Powered by Jaguar’s legendary 3.4-litre straight-six, on any list of the world’s most beautiful automobiles, the XK140 – one of the best old Jaguar sports cars – is a contender for top spot. This was a car designed to be driven on the edge. The marketing brochure went as far as to say “All the accumulated wealth of knowledge and experience gained in the hard school of racing have been built into the new XK140 models.” But above all, it was a gloriously elegant, walnut-hewn roadster as comfortable tearing around the track as it was cruising the Croisette in Cannes.

Jaguar Mark 1 | 1955 - 1959 | Approx. 37,400 built

Jaguar 3.4 Mark1 J.W. Dean At Silverstone 1961 (Photo: Heritage Images via Getty Images)

The Mark 1 (originally known as the 2.4 Litre and 3.4 Litre) was in many ways a revolutionary car. It was the company’s first small saloon car since the end of the Second World War and was an instant success. The market was crying out for a fast, small, good looking and affordable family car and Jaguar were only too happy to oblige. Rightly or wrongly it lives in the shadow of the Mark 2. However, make no mistake, the Mark 1 was a genuinely great car that went a long way in shaping the direction of saloon cars for a generation. Perhaps more crucially, it secured Jaguar’s financial future. Of all the vintage Jaguar cars, this is one of the very best.

From Famous Icons to Hidden Gems

SS Jaguar 100 (Photo: Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Like fine wine, the best old Jaguar cars get better with age. One of the most famous car marques of them all has created some true icons, as well as some wonderful hidden gems that have all helped to shape one of the world’s great creators and innovators.


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