Jaguar Cars Ltd. marks the end of an era with the sale this week of its Browns Lane factory in Coventry, U.K., that was home to luxury car making for 55 years.

The former Jaguar headquarters was sold to Delamar Construction, which plans to use the facility to construct pre-fabricated buildings. The sale is reported to have garnered more than €50 million ($60 million) which will be put against the accumulated losses at Jaguar.

Jaguar stopped building vehicles at Browns Lane a year ago, with the transfer of the next-generation XK to Castle Bromwich that left an administrative call center, heritage center (museum) and the Veneer Manufacturing Centre (wood shop) in the largely vacant building.

The roughly 500 affected employees will move to the nearby Whitley engineering center site where they will continue to make wood and metal trim for the Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover brands.

The museum and veneer operations reportedly will move in about 18 months, pending construction of a business park in Whitley which has housed an engineering and research and development facility since 1985.

Jaguar is entering a joint venture with St. Modwen that owns the Birmingham, U.K., factory vacated by MG Rover when it folded. The JV reportedly will develop a technology park on the site.

“We’ve been pretty clear that we have a commitment to our heritage center and to the wood shop,” Bibiana Boerio, Jaguar managing director, recently tells Ward's. The wood finishes are “what helps us drive the core DNA (of Jaguar).”

About 1,100 assembly workers from Browns Lane now travel another 15 miles (24 km) to work at Castle Bromwich, Boerio says. Another 300 to 400 workers were absorbed by Aston Martin at the nearby Gaden plant that was adding production to launch a new V-8 engine.

In the end, there were only about 100 Browns Lane workers who received a package to effectively retire.

“Browns Lane was a great plant,” Boerio says. “It was difficult for us to make that decision, but it was part of what we needed to do. We’ll get the benefit of a full year of that in 2007.”

Savings also will come from the decision to build in the second half of the year the new Land Rover Freelander at the Halewood, U.K., plant alongside the Jaguar X-Type.

While the vehicles are from different platforms, Boerio says, the consolidation will net savings for the auto maker.

apriddle@wardsauto.com