Not too many people will know that the two iconic British marques as we see today—Jaguar and Land Rover—once passed through several hands, from Germany’s BMW to America’s Ford Motor Company, before being taken over by the grand old daddy of corporate India, the Tatas. “It is ironic that it took an Indian owner and German management to restore Jaguar and Land Rover’s pride in being British,” writes Ray Hutton in his new book, Jewels in the Crown: How Tata of India Transformed Britain’s Jaguar Land Rover.
For an industry captain who has been following the two “jewels in the British crown”, right from the unveiling of the original Jaguar XJ6 in London as a fledgling motoring journalist to driving one of the first production Range Rovers across Europe a couple of years later, it was only befitting for him to be chronicling the rise, fall and subsequent rebirth of JLR in the Tata stable.
In undertaking the eventful journey, the former editor-in-chief of Autocar magazine passes through several milestones in the brief histories of the two brands and how they developed; from being brought together in the 1960s in what became British Leyland, to going their separate ways to be reunited as part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group in 2000.
Ford’s changing circumstances, and personnel, are described in some detail to explain the lead-up to and conduct of the sale. And the background to Tata shows how it emerged as the proud and ambitious owner of the two famous brands.
When Ratan Tata, then chairman of the Mumbai-based conglomerate and a car buff himself, was asked to comment on the soon-to-be-inked takeover of the beleaguered marques, at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008, he had left no doubt about his company’s ambition: “... Jaguar and Land Rover are iconic brands that we respect enormously. These companies were for sale. We were invited to bid and were pleased to be considered. We were not on the prowl to acquire another car company. This is a great opportunity...”
However, several questions arose: If Ford, one of the world’s biggest motor manufacturers, can’t