If asked to make a list of the things that best symbolize Britain and British culture, then castles, the BBC, Shakespeare and royalty are some of the first that come to mind, especially with royal couples like Harry and Meghan clogging up the headlines. But what about British cars? How much is there to discover about the classic British Jaguar, for instance? And could there be anything more quintessentially British than cruising around in a Lotus Esprit?
Classic British Cars, on the Big Screen and in Television
There’s a reason why a number of classic British cars have become cinematographic icons. They look incredible. The Aston Martin, the preferred set of wheels belonging to Sean Connery as 007, is just one of the classic British cars to have made its way into the movie business and into the hearts of millions worldwide. Jump forward a few years and there’s the Mini Cooper, driven by Michael Caine in The Italian Job, to brag about.
One of the most recent examples of a classic British car on the big screen is the Jaguar E-Type Roadster, sported by Mike Myers in the Austin Powers movie, and while Americans look for deals on new and used trucks in the U.S., the cast of the UK television series, The Avengers, prefers to whiz around in the tough and sturdy first-generation Range Rover.
Classic British Fast Cars, Born to Dazzle
From cinema to sport, the undeniable finesse of the British character is hard to ignore, particularly when its traveling on four wheels and moving at great speed. Leave images of afternoon tea and biscuits at the door, because Brits have a clever knack for building cars that look amazing and move like lightning. But, of all the fast car and truck models we could mention, the McLaren F1 is the most iconic British supercar of all time.
With sexy, swooping bodywork, and a central driving position, the F1 smashed its competitors, Ferrari and Lamborghini, when it was launched in 1993 by recording top speeds of 240mph. Interestingly enough, British actor, Rowan Atkinson, used to drive the McLaren F1 on a daily basis. It was his “pop-to-the-shop” car, until he was involved in a couple of costly accidents, that is. Oh dear, Rowan.
Classic British Cars, About to Expire
Despite the beauty, class and engineering excellence of the country’s motors, some of Britain’s classic cars are treading dangerously close to their expiration dates. The Austin Morris, Austin Maxi and Austin Allegro, are three that we can name at the drop of a hat. The Ford Cortina and the Mini Metro are two other models that can easily be add to the list.
Unfortunately, it’s not altogether clear why the Brits have stopped investing in an industry that they clearly excel at. The only thing left for us to do is to cherish the classic models that are already out there. As sporting heroes, loveable movie icons and cultural gems, packed with history, Britain’s classic cars deserve more of our attention.