british-cars

11 of the best British built cars: From royal favourites to movie motors

See how many you've driven...

Gareth Herincx

From the Mini to the Jaguar, Britain has produced some of the world's most beloved, in-demand and downright revolutionary cars

But which British-built car is the best of them all? We've picked our top 11 favourite British cars which are loved by royalty, rock stars and reality stars too. How many have you driven?

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11 of the best British cars, ever

 

1. The Mini

Launched in 1959, the iconic Mini was the British people’s car. With front-wheel drive, an engine mounted sideways to save space, plus its wheel-in-each-corner design and genius packaging, it became the blueprint for all small vehicles to follow.

mini-cooper

Built at Cowley, Oxford and Longbridge, Birmingham, Minis were owned by pop stars (George Harrison), models (Twiggy) and royalty (Lord Snowdon) in the swinging sixties. It was the star of The Italian Job in 1969 and a Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in 1964, 1965 and 1967.

2. Lotus Elan

Manufactured between 1962-75 at Lotus HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, the cute Elan two-seater was famously driven by Diana Rigg's character Emma Peel in the hit 60s British TV series, The Avengers.

lotus-elan

Peter Sellers gifted then-fiance Britt Ekland a Lotus Elan in the 60s

Praised for its exceptional handling, famous owners included actors Paul Newman and Peter Sellers, plus Formula One champion Jim Clark. Its legacy lives on in today's Mazda MX-5 (the 1989 original was unashamedly inspired by the Elan).

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3. Rover P6

Also known as the Rover 2000 (the 2200 and 3500 were to follow), the sleek and innovative P6 was arguably the last great Rover.

rover-p6

Produced at Solihull in the West Midlands (1963-1977), it set new standards for refinement, performance, handling and safety, and was a favourite with police forces right up until the late 1970s. It still makes a great practical classic today.

4. Aston Martin DB5

Immortalised in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, royalty, rock stars and celebrities clamoured to own this gorgeous luxury grant tourer (GT). Probably the most famous car in the world, it was built between 1963-1965 and little more than 1,000 hand-built examples left the production line at Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.

aston-martin-db5

Sean Connery poses with his Bond Aston Martin in the 60s

Also available as a Volante (convertible), Aston Martin is currently building 25 DB5 "Continuation" models using classic build processes with some modern modifications and enhancements. Each £3 million car features Bond features such as revolving number plates and twin (dummy) machine guns.

5. Jensen Interceptor FF

The most famous Jensen of all was the mighty Interceptor, and the most desirable version was the almost identical and innovative 1966 FF, which boasted four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes.

jensen

The Jensen Interceptor FF

Powered by a mighty American V8 and built in West Bromwich in the Midlands, production of the Interceptor ended in 1976 when Jensen was placed into receivership. Famous Interceptor owners included Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra, Cher, Cliff Richard and comedian Eric Morecambe, who was driving his when he suffered his first heart attack in November 1968.

6. Ford Escort

Following on from the success of the Cortina, Ford launched the smaller Escort family car in 1968. Built at Halewood on Merseyside, it quickly became a best-seller too. By 1974 the two millionth Escort had been manufactured and when the sixth-generation model went out of production in 2001 it was the UK’s best-selling car ever (4,105,961).

ford-escort

Princess Diana driving her Ford Escort in the early 80s

High performance versions of the Escort competed in racing and rallies - or "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday", as Ford phrased it. England footballer Jimmy Greaves famously drove an Escort in the 16,000-mile Daily Mirror World Cup Rally from London to Mexico in 1970, and the Escort Mexico (pictured) is now one of the most desirable models.

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7. Jaguar E-Type

It's fair to say that the Jaguar E-Type caused a sensation when it was unveiled at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. Enzo Ferrari, no less, described it as “the most beautiful car ever made”. It set new standards in automotive design and performance and it cost a fraction of the price of rivals with similar performance.

jaguar

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drove a Jaguar E-Type to their wedding reception

It's a royal favourite, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle choosing it as their royal wedding car. Built at the Browns Lane plant in Coventry, it remained on sale for 14 years and available as a coupe of roadster.

8. Range Rover

Introduced in 1970, the original Range Rover set the template for today's top SUVs with its blend of superb all-terrain ability and comfort. When it was launched it cost £1,998 – today's fourth-generation car starts at more than £84,000. Built at Solihull, Birmingham, it became a classless icon - equally at home in Chelsea or the Cotswolds.

range-rover

Alongside its little brother, the Land Rover, it became a car of choice for explorers. The Rangie has moved upmarket over the years, but it still represents the pinnacle of go-anywhere luxury motoring.

9. Rolls-Royce Phantom

The game-changing Phantom VII was the first Rolls-Royce to leave the production line at the legendary marque's new home in Goodwood, West Sussex - and the first new model under BMW ownership.

phantom

The Rolls Royce Phantom is loved by celebs

Credited with reviving Rolls-Royce's reputation as the maker of the world's best cars, it looked awesome, oozed luxury and boasted a magic carpet ride. Between 2003-17, more than 10,000 Phantom VIIs were hand-built and celebrity owners included Simon Cowell and Kim Kardashian.

10. McLaren F1

Created by race car designers Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens, the stunning McLaren F1 (1992-1998) became the world's fastest production car in 1998 when it reached 240.1mph. It featured many Formula One developments, becoming the first production car to use a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis.

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The sporty McLaren F1

Perhaps its most unique feature was its arrowhead seating, positioning the driver in the centre of the car with passenger seats placed on either side behind. Just 106 F1s were made and its celebrity owners included Rowan Atkinson, who sold his twice-crashed example for a reported £8 million in 2015.

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11. Land Rover

The original Land Rover Series I was launched at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. Britain's answer to the Jeep, it was the ultimate go-anywhere 4x4.

land-rover

The Queen driving a Land Rover around the Sandringham estate in 2000

A favourite with the Queen and Winston Churchill, it was the vehicle of choice for everyone from farmers to the emergency services, explorers and the military. The last Land Rover Defender (as it was known from 1990) left the assembly line at Solihull, Birmingham, in 2016, ending 68 years of continuous production. The two millionth Defender sold for a record £400,000 at a charity auction in 2015.

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