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Putting the 'Great' back into Great Britain

By raccars Published

DB9

Are these the best cars to come out of Great Britain?

Talk of putting the 'Great' back into Great Britain is the sort of rhetoric spouted by desperate politicians. However nationalistic or otherwise you may feel, there is one area in which Britain has excelled in the past and still does, and that is car making.

Not all of our output has been the best, but some of the greatest and most memorable cars ever, and those that inspire the most affection, have indeed been British. If recent political events have left you feeling a little disillusioned about the concept of 'Great Britain', take a look at these.

The cars that make Great Britain great

Jaguar E-Type Series 1

The obvious candidate appears on pretty much every list of 'best car...', no matter how random the criteria. Often called the most beautiful car in the world, it is also now an extremely desirable and valuable collectible. Even Enzo Ferrari, no stranger to fabulous cars, named it the most beautiful car ever made.

Mini

Another almost tediously inevitable member of 'best cars...' lists is another vehicle which genuinely deserves the applause. The Mini was a cultural icon, a mechanical and social revolution. It introduced a new way of building small cars and was accessible to all levels of society; as popular with rock stars as with housewives. Its success is a triumph of both clever engineering and marketing, with the Mini as excellent to drive as it was fashionable.

Range Rover

Generally known as the first luxury off-roader, the Range Rover was another cleverly planned combination. Not only was it smooth on road and tough off it, it even looked good. Today's posh 4x4s may be far more sophisticated, but they can't touch the classic Range Rover for retro charm.

McLaren F1

Born in Woking, the F1's pedigree may not be as exotic as that of some other supercars, but it is nonetheless legendary. At the time it was the world's fastest production car and the name is a clue to where its engineering inspiration came from.

Lotus Elise S1

Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, worked to a strict brief of keeping things as light and simple as possible. Even though the Elise was made years after his death, it fits his requirements perfectly and seems to have been designed to extract as much fun as possible from British B roads. A serious driver's car in the guise of a gorgeous little roadster.

Austin Seven

Britain's equivalent of the Ford Model T is often credited with introducing motoring to the masses. It was available in many forms, practical and - relatively - affordable to the man in the street and inspired Britain's Formula One career.

Aston Martin DB5

Definitely not a car for the masses, the DB5 owes a lot of its mystique and glamour to its appearance in the James Bond films of the Sixties and later. That's not to say it's not a glorious car in its own right, however. It was as rapid as it was elegant and luxurious to boot, with features such as reclining seats, leather upholstery and wool carpets.

Jensen FF

The FF long pre-dated the Audi Quattro for using four wheel drive outside of the SUV format and was also a pioneer of anti-lock braking on road cars. It doesn't often receive the respect it deserves for inspiring future greats including the Audi.

Morgan 3 Wheeler

Thoroughly eccentric and brilliantly British, the Morgan boasts a V-twin 2.0 litre engine with a kerb weight of about half a tonne. Enough said. An all-electric version is on the way too...

Bentley 3 Litre

The first production Bentley encapsulated the values of elegant design and blistering performance which, together with luxury, became the brand's trademarks. It was also a hugely successful race car, with five wins at Le Mans to its name.

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