We’re back again with a Blast from the Past article but this time we’re going to be looking at 10 of the best cars to come out of Great Britain. Remember that this is only a fraction of the cars and are in no particular order.
VAUXHALL LOTUS CARLTON
We’re starting strong with the Lotus Carlton. A joint venture between Vauxhall and Lotus, this car is the definition of 1990s bonkers and was hated massively by all health and safety boards purely for one reason – it was bat shit fast. So fast in fact that it could keep up with a handful of the supercars at the time. I think what makes it even more attractive is that to the vast majority it looks like any other Vauxhall Carlton, only with a few cosmetic tweeks.
Originally it started out with a 3 litre engine from Vauxhall, but Lotus scrapped that, upped the displacement to 3.6 litres and just for good measure added two Garrett turbos. The result was an everyday family saloon car that was running 377bhp meaning 0-60 can be dealt with in just over 5 seconds and a top speed of almost 180mph. Crazy? Awesome? Hell yeah it is!
Okay, so the Transit isn’t technically a car but as far as British automotive history is concerned, it deserves a place on this list. I can guarantee that if you drive past any building site across the UK then you’ll be finding a Transit of some description because they’re affordable, durable and come in all shapes and sizes to cater for anything you can throw at it.
When the first one rolled off the production line back in 1965 they had no idea how successful it was going to be.
LAND ROVER SERIES
Our next one on the list is from Land Rover. I don’t mean the latest generation of cars that will never see anything other than tarmac, I mean the early examples like the Series 1, 2 & 3 that have been a vital part of English agriculture by having the ability to tackle any terrain with ease, helping farmers for decades.
FORD SIERRA COSWORTH
The Sierra Cosworth is one of the most famous British cars of all time. Featuring the famous ‘whale tail’ spoiler which covered up most of the rear window, the Cosworth was an angry super saloon built by Ford Motorsport that had racing pedigree running throughout. An aggressive bodykit, a top speed of over 160mph and 0-60 in just over 6 seconds, the Sierra was a rocket.
Okay so in my first article I claimed that the Mark 1 Golf GTi was perhaps the original hot hatch but I think I was wrong. The Mini Cooper came long before and completely changed the way small cars could be used as weapons with many, many examples being sold all over the world. Being as light as a feather means the little Mini could take on much bigger and badder rivals on the road, the track and also rallying. They’re beyond cool if you ask me.
ASTON MARTIN DBR1
You can’t mention British racing without the DBR1. Built back in 1956 to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it came up against fierce competitors from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Lister. Despite that, it managed to clinch a victory back in 1959.
Back in 2017 DBR1/1 sold at auction for $22,550,000 making it the most expensive British car ever sold.
When asked what is classed as the ultimate supercar, what do you think of first? The McLaren F1. Back in 1998, the F1 shattered the previous production car speed record by achieving two runs averaging 240.1 mph at Volkswagen’s test track called Ehra-Lessien with a peak speed of 243mph. Andy Wallace who completed the drive was skeptical at first because it was exceeding the boundaries of technology at the time with the tyres being his main concern but after a few runs to build up his confidence, he achieved his goal.
Powered by a 6 litre naturally aspirated engine by BMW, the F1 had plenty of power to claim the supercar name and was arguably the first to be classed as a hypercar.
The Jaguar E-Type is considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made and it’s easy to see why. Sleek and flowing lines are just part of the E-Type charm and it proudly goes down as one of the best cars to come out of Britain.
ASTON MARTIN DB5
The DB5 is predominately known from the James Bond ‘Goldfinger’ where Sean Connery foiled the bad guy who planned to destroy the entire gold supply in order to make his own skyrocket in value. It’s a fantastic film with a fantastic car. Despite only coming out a couple of years after the E-Type they couldn’t be more different.
I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea that the Caterham Seven first entered production way back in 1973 after it bought the design rights from Lotus who had been producing the car since 1957. Caterham have had various troubles withholding these rights and lost the case against Birkin over in South Africa. Despite this, it’s a British car through and through which has kept the same basic structure to this day.
So, what other cars can you suggest?