You can keep faultless German engineering or Italian style and flash – as it stands today, the motor industry owes a heck of a lot to our modest little British isles. With a bombardment of foreign models in recent years, it’s easy to forget about some of the iconic cars that shaped and transformed the UK car industry to the thriving fuel card driven beast it is today. Here’s a quick reminder of the cars that well and truly put the Great into Great Britain!
Aston Martin DB5
It’s hard to picture this car without James Bond in the driver’s seat in a high-speed chase, but the DB5 itself is a feat of engineering and an incredibly stylish and versatile car – with or without the 007 tag. Bursting onto the motor scene in 1963 on the back of Goldfinger’s success, the Aston Martin DB5 wowed the world with its unfaltering performance and class. The DB5 could reach 0 to 60 in just under 8 seconds and boasted a top speed of up to 143mph, a staggering achievement for the early ‘60’s. It’s no wonder this car is one of the most sought after collectables in the world.
The Mini was never designed to thrill or impress, but following its release in 1959, it did precisely that. The designer Sir Alec Issigonis wanted to make a fuel-efficient car that would perform to the best of its ability for its compact and unique size. Little did he know the Mini would be revered the world over, becoming a cinematic icon, a figure of legend in the racing world and a household name among consumers and celebrities alike. More than 1.5 million Minis were sold in Britain following its 1959 release and its successor, the Mini Cooper continues to sell in its droves.
The ultimate statement of affordable luxury, the Austin-Healey Sprite still remains one of the most popular British cars of all time 50 years on from its initial release. Designer Donald Healey wanted to create a small, inexpensive sports car that could do the work of its competitors at a much lower cost. He achieved this by using parts and components from existing cars to keep costs at a minimum, whilst keeping quality and durability at a maximum. The Sprites are affectionately known as ‘Frog eyes’ to the Brits and ‘Bug eyes’ to the US consumers due to the distinctive headlights. Anyone lucky enough to possess on original ‘Frog eye’ must have a smile to match that of the Austin-Healey’s iconic front grill grin!
Last but by no means least, the Jaguar E-Type. For many people’s money, this is the ultimate British car. When you consider its characteristics, it’s not hard to see why. The E-Type possessed the whole package and then some with a top speed of 150mph (outclassing most sports cars of the day back in 1961) teamed with a voluptuous body designed for an elegant, streamlined drive that contemporary sports cars can only dream of. The E-Type was and remains a true icon of British motoring and is easily the finest example of style and substance in equal measure.
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