From cheap and cheerful sports cars to arguably one of the most desirable and beautiful cars ever made
The British have made some wonderful cars over the decades and classics that many covet today. The Brits have always offered something for everyone, whatever your budget.
As our series continues, we give our reasons why we think that British classics are the best.
Do you agree?
FUN AND VALUE
If the Italians gave the post war masses cheap motoring with the Fiat 500 and the Germans started a new sector with hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI, the British gave them fun and freedom with affordable sports cars. MG is a prime example, with cars like the MGB and the Midget giving more people the chance to have a bit more fun behind the wheel.
And to this day such cars remain an affordable way to get in to classics car ownership – with the likes of the Triumph Stag, the original Mini and the Lotus Elise other great examples.
Although some might have slightly dodgy reliability and build quality reputations (think British Leyland in the late 1970s), the Brits have produced some of the simplest ways to have fun on the road for not a lot of cash.
LIGHTNESS AND HANDLING
It was Lotus founder Colin Chapman who came up with the mantra of ‘simplify, then add lightness’. His way of doing things was not all about power, but power-to-weight ratio. And this has led to some of the most fun sports cars of all time, such as the original Elan, the Elite, the Lotus 7 and, more recently, the Elise.
The Brits have a reputation for proper sports cars that, on a B road of choice, are great fun thanks purely to their simplicity.
It’s that underdog spirit of getting the most out of something that seemingly has little.
When it comes to small, independent, slightly off-the-wall car firms the British lead the way.
Think TVR, Noble, Morgan, Ginetta, Marcos and Westfield, to name just a few.
They embody that Britishness of men in sheds producing something great. Of long hours into the night with oily tools and rags. And they’ve also come up with some oddities in their time – the Morgan 3 Wheeler is one of the best examples. Still being produced today, 50 years after it was first produced, it looks like a plane and you need goggles to pilot it. Simply spiffing.
Few do graceful cars like the British.
Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar. They might not all be 100 per cent British anymore, but they continue to make cars that are. And they have done so for many decades. Who could argue that the Rolls-Royce Corniche wasn’t a thing of wondrous beauty, or that the Aston Martin DB5 isn’t a total stunner?
But there’s one that, arguably, tops them all – the Jaguar E-Type.
Now more than 50 years old, it continues to be heralded as one of the most beautiful cars of all time and, like a fine wine, it only gets better with age.
Just a few examples of the best of British.
The Brits have been racing since motorsport began.
Since those early and dangerous days of just going racing for fun, the British have been there, done it and won it. And some of the most memorable cars of all time have come along as a result.
Jaguar brought us the D-Type and later the XJR9 Le Mans car. Bentley raced right at the outset and returned to Le Mans more than 80 years later to do it all again.
Some of F1’s oldest teams are British – notably McLaren – and many are based in the UK.
And the old saying of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ means that road cars from British manufacturers remain as close to our hearts as our track heroes.