The first cars of every major car maker (Part 8)

Jeep (Willys, 1941)
Hmm – where to start with this one? The first Jeeps were made by Willys and Ford in 1941 and later on by French companies Hotchkiss and Delahaye. Power came from a 2.2 four-cylinder engine which drove all four wheels via a three-speed manual gearbox. In time the Jeep would become a staple product for Willys-Overland, which went on to launch the Station Wagon, Truck and Jeepster. agen domino qiu

Jaguar (1945)
Rising from the ashes of SS Cars was Jaguar, which was incorporated in March 1945. With six years of hostilities just having taken place Jaguar hadn’t been able to develop a new car so it just put the SS 2.5 saloon back into production. Alongside a 3.5, this 2664cc car would have to sustain Jaguar until the arrival of the MkV in 1948.

After a prosperous period after the war making prestige cars, Jaguar survived the usually fatal act of being part of British Leyland (BL), and was acquired by Ford in 1990. It slowly merged with fellow BL survivor Land Rover after 2000 under Ford, and then both were sold to India’s Tata in 2008.

Volkswagen (1945)
Although the first examples of Hitler’s KDF wagen were built in 1936, the first production cars weren’t made until 1945. When the British Army liberated VW’s Wolfsburg factory the car, the Type 1, was offered to various British companies, all of which turned it down saying it could never be commercially successful. Unofficially called the Volkswagen Beetle, the air-cooled saloon went on to become the most successful car in history with more than 21 million built by the time production ended in 2003.

Volkswagen expanded to acquire a range of other companies and nameplates over the decades, and was the world’s largest single vehicle producer in 2017.

Ferrari (1947)
When Enzo Ferrari severed his ties with his previous employer Alfa Romeo (he was the company’s competition manager), he was forbidden from building any cars bearing his own name for seven years. So his first cars were built under the Auto Avio banner in 1940; after just two were built the company’s focus turned to making machine tools and ball bearings for the war effort. The first Ferrari appeared in 1947: the Tipo 125 featured a 1498cc V12 rated at 118bhp. A year later Ferrari would take part in its first Grand Prix, using this engine in supercharged form.

And the rest as they say is history – Ferrari today is arguably the world’s leading producer of high-end sports cars. It’s also the operator of the most successful team in Formula One racing in terms of both constructor and driver championship wins. The company was fully acquired by Fiat in 1988; it was spun off as an independent company, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015.