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Five British cars that changed the world

By raccars Published

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Everyone has their favourite cars and some can lay claim to being the best in their class, at least for a time. Some cars, however, go further and define a whole market or moment in time. Here are five British cars that the rest of the world could only admire - and copy.

1) Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender has been around in one form or another since it started life as the Ninety and One Ten in 1948. It is a truly great car: classless and absolutely perfect for its function. That function is going off-road, managing the farm, ferrying troops and exploring the far corners of the world. More than 1.8 million have been built and 70% are still on the road. It is estimated that the first car seen by 60% of people in the developing world was a Defender.

2) Mini

The original Mini summed up the swinging sixties: almost everybody seemed to have one. It did much more than that, however. The stunningly innovative Sir Alec Issigonis design-mounted the engine sideways and put the welds on the outside of the car to save space. It completely changed the rules for making small cars.

3) Rolls-Royce

This is not so much a specific model as a brand. Everyone has heard phrases like 'it's the Rolls-Royce of its market'. What Rolls-Royce did was to define luxury motoring. Far more than any other marque, Rolls-Royce is the last word in motoring elegance, prestige and exclusivity. There are other luxury car-makers but only one Rolls-Royce standard.

4) E-Type Jaguar

Enzo Ferarri called the E-Type the most beautiful car ever built. It was also one of the most revolutionary. There were other supercars around at the time but the E-Type could outperform almost all of them and it cost half the price. Suddenly supercar performance was available to a far wider audience. It is said that the government first considered speed limits after learning of the astonishing speeds achieved, quite legally, by E-Types being tested on the recently opened M1.

5) MGB

The MGB may not have the cache of the E-Type and nor can it come near its performance but it achieved something just as important. The affordable price and simple mechanics brought the joys of open top driving to an appreciative British public. It is one of the cars that defines British motoring, recalling carefree days on empty and winding country lanes. It still influences convertibles today and cars like the Honda S2000 and Mazda MX-5 can trace their lineage directly back to this British classic.

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