A parade of historic Jaguar and Land Rover cars that took place to mark the start of Jaguar production at the Lode Lane plant in Solihull was made possible thanks to the car-maker acquiring one of the UK’s largest collections of classic cars - worth an estimated £100 million.
The parade, which took place within the road network of the Lode Lane factory, featured 40 classic Jaguar Land Rover models spanning the decades.
Held to mark the start of Jaguar XE production in Solihull - the first time a Jaguar has been produced there - it featured several cars from an enviable private car collection bought by Jaguar Land Rover in July last year.
The Midland car-maker bought the huge fleet of 543 vehicles valued at around £100 million, which was amassed by enthusiast and entrepreneur James Hull.
The company’s interest in the collection was due to the fact it contained 130 Jaguar or Swallow Sidecar vehicles - Swallow Sidecars being the former name of Jaguar.
The Jaguars are now be housed in a purpose-built facility in Coventry.
Models included early Swallow Sidecars and Swallow coachbuilt Austin Sevens, plus a range of pre-war SS models, 7 XK 120s, C- and D-types, an XKSS, 8 E-types, 30 classic Jaguar ‘Mark’ model saloons plus 19 XJS models and over 20 XJ saloons.
The deal was welcomed by Mr Hull who described the new owners as “the perfect custodian”.
The parade to mark the start of XE production took place as part of the opening of new manufacturing facilities at Lode Lane following an investment of £2 billion.
British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss OBE and Jaguar’s famed test driver, Norman Dewis OBE, who helped develop 25 Jaguar models from the 1950s onwards, joined Solihull operations director, Alan Volkaerts and television presenter Quentin Wilson for the event.
Sir Stirling Moss cut the ribbon to formally open the new production facilities following the classic car parade.
Production was stopped temporarily to allow the workforce to join the celebrations as the lengthy vehicle parade wound its way around the site.
The parade was led by Sir Stirling Moss in a Jaguar XK120.
Models from Jaguar’s 80-year history such as Jaguar’s SS1 Tourer, XK120, and E-Type were joined by the XE and several of Land Rover’s finest in the form of a Series l, 101 Forward Control and the newly-launched Range Rover Sport SVR.
Sir Stirling Moss said: “Cars like the Jaguar XK120 and E-type look as wonderful today as they did when they were new and it’s brilliant that they are here, taking part in the celebration of a great new chapter in Jaguar’s illustrious history.”
One Land Rover employee who drove one of the classic Jaguars in the parade said: “It’s all thanks to the acquisition of James Hull’s collection that a parade like this - which included an array of amazing Jaguars - was able to take place.
“It really was a win-win situation all round. Mr Hull received a sizeable sum for his collection and Jaguar was able to get its hands on several vehicles it couldn’t have imagined would ever again be in its possession.”
Although the financial aspects of the deal remained confidential it is believed Mr Hull accepted considerably less than the total value of the collection to ensure it remained in the UK.
Speaking at the time he said: “Travelling all over the world to build the collection over the years has been a labour of love and a life’s work, so my primary motivation was not to get the maximum price but rather to secure the future of the collection in this country with the right custodian.
“I have got to know Jaguar Land Rover well in recent years and they have borrowed cars from the collection for events such as the Mille Miglia and supporting Jaguar in China.
“They are the perfect custodians to take the collection forward and I know it is in safe hands.”
Jaguar Land Rover’s purchase of the collection reflected an increased commitment to preserve the heritage of both brands and followed the launch of its Special Operations division.
A heritage workshop at the Browns Lane site in Coventry maintains the Jaguars in the collection, which are now regularly showcased at Jaguar events around the world.