In 2009 Jaguar revealed the new Jaguar XJ and in the same month news broke of the re-launch of the famous Jaguar Heritage Museum. “It is important that we maintain the link to our heritage..” Mike O’Driscoll, Chairman of the Jaguar Heritage Trust said at the time.
The museum, based in Browns Lane, Coventry opened in 1998 celebrating the history of Jaguar and it’s classic offshoots such as Daimler, Swallow, SS and Lanchester. There are some 120 vehicles in the museum dating back to 1896.
The idea of the museum really began in the 1950s with Jaguar founder Sir William Lyon’s own personal vintage collection. The museum now includes such rare treats as the XJ13 racing car and the ‘Shaguar’ from the Austin Powers films as well as around 30,000 historical photographs and sculptures in the airy, open-plan layout.
Today though, I heard some very sad news, the Jaguar Heritage Museum is to close in September 2012 as the Browns Lane site continues to be developed for housing. The vehicles will not be sold off though, and will remain in the rightful hands of Jaguar. Although there are no immediate plans to open elsewhere, a spokesperson said that the Jaguar Heritage trustees are looking for possible future locations.
So all is not entirely lost it would seem. I guess this is just another dip in the fortunes of Jaguar, who have had more than their fair share of dips over the years. I remember the alleged quality issues from the 1990s, which seem to have been thankfully forgotten about now. As you would expect from such an iconic, classic car brand - Jaguar has always bounced back with varying degrees of success over the years.
It’s been a bad time of late for historical car museums, as it was only recently that Saab announced the closure of their very own museum after the manufacturer declared itself bankrupt. Unfortunately, unlike Jaguar, Saab had planned to sell the automobiles off to the highest bidder until a group of Swedish investors came riding over the hill to the rescue of both museum and it’s precious vehicles.
For Jaguar, Browns Lane will always hold a place in their rich history. This was the place of Jaguar car production right up until 2005 until the site was bought by an Australian property firm. House building is already underway at the site.
As summer thankfully creeps closer and car shows start to emerge on the distant horizon, and we all start to brush off our classic car insurance and think about removing the dust covers from our stored vintage vehicles, it is good to be able to report that Jaguar will not be moth-balling their classic E-Types and their streamlined ilk. The announcement that Jaguar has plans to still show their classic cars at various shows in the future is a welcome piece of good news.