The Leaper and the Growler - 2012 Jaguar XF Long-Term Road Test

2012 Jaguar XF: The Leaper and the Growler

September 16, 2012


The Leaper and the Growler are the two symbols of Jaguar, and their use as ornament on the company?s products is the subject of the usual British fascination with automotive iconography.

In fact, the use of the Leaper as a badge on the trunk of the Jaguar XF has been the subject of much controversy among Jaguar guys.


According to the dusty books that I?ve pulled down from my own shelves (am as bad as the Brits, eh?), the Jaguar name was selected by William Lyons himself in September 1935. He made the selection from a list of other various animal-theme names proposed by the Nelson advertising agency. It was meant to simply identify the models of the two sedans and SS sports car made by his firm, then known as Swallow Sidecar (SS), as in "SS Jaguar." The company had begun after WWI as a company that made motorcycle sidecars, and only after WWII did the company become known as "Jaguar."

The Leaper first appeared as a hood ornament cast from bronze early in 1936 for the personal Jaguar sedan of company designer Bill Rankin. William Lyons described it as ?looking like a car shot off a fence,? but he approved it for use as an accessory. Soon after, the design was refined into its now-familiar, vastly more classic shape by F. Gordon Crosby, a self-taught illustrator now legendary for his watercolor portraits of the motoring life for AutoCar from 1906 to his death in 1943.

First sold to the public by Swallow as a kind of accessory for the Christmas season of December 1938, the Leaper was subsequently revived in slightly refined form as an optional hood ornament for the 1955 Jaguar Mark 1 2.4-liter sedan. Its shape has evolved several times since, and it adorned Jaguar hoods for nearly 50 years. With the Jaguar XF and XJ, the Leaper became a trunk badge.

Meanwhile, the Growler seems to have come from a badge created for the first Jaguar XK120 sports car, and it has evolved through several different shapes for various grilles, horn buttons and truck-release buttons of Jaguar cars over the years since then. It?s a grille badge for the Jaguar XF.

Really, probably more than you needed to know. But if you?re going to set yourself apart from the rabble of latecomers that are rushing to embrace the Jaguar brand, this is the kind of stuff you have to know. In the end, there will always be a test.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor,

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