DISCOVER ENGLISH CLASSIC CARS
Many English classic cars have much more to offer than the classics from the James Bond films. From luxury cars in which kings and celebrities have been seen, to roadsters in which pure driving pleasure is always the goal, English classic cars still exert a special fascination and inspire car fans all over the world
– and there is something here for every taste. The British Racing Green has long since conquered the globe – and the hearts of classic car fans – and has secured a very special place in the motoring world.
ENGLISH CLASSIC CARS – IMPORTANT BRANDS AND MODELS
British Monte Carlo Rally winner Donald Mitchell Healey founded the Donald Healey Motor Company in 1945 – the rest is history: the Austin-Healey became the epitome of the English roadster. Together with the manufacturer Austin, then part of the BMC group, Healey released the Austin-Healey 100, which slotted into the market between the MG T and the Jaguar XK. The American demand for British roadsters was almost unlimited and the Austin-Healey 100 became a top seller, followed by other milestones such as the Austin-Healey Sprite, Austin-Healey 3000 and Austin-Healey 100 Six. To this day, Austin-Healeys have a legendary status and are among the most sought-after roadsters that the United Kingdom ever produced.
If you deal with English classic cars, you can’t ignore Bentley – after all, the manufacturer is the official purveyor to the British Royal family. The company, which was founded in 1919, made a name for itself in the racing world, where it was able to boost levels of awareness with great success. In the 1930s, the manufacturer made the leap from sports to luxury cars with the 8 and 4 Litre models. Due to financial problems, Bentley was bought by Rolls-Royce and they focused again on the production of exclusive luxury sporting cars. The distinctive radiator grille is – in addition to the Flying B logo – Bentley’s identification mark.
Jaguar has its roots in the Swallow Sidecar Company founded in 1922, initially manufacturing sidecars for motorcycles. When it became Jaguar, and introduced the big cat as a trademark, the manufacturer’s global success was sealed. With success in motor sport, outstanding technology and pioneering bodywork, Jaguar established itself over the decades as a car manufacturer that rose above the norm. With milestones such as the E-Type, the MkII and the SS100, Jaguar achieved legendary status, defining itself as the most successful of the English car manufacturers.
Founded in Oxford as Morris Garage in 1923, MG developed over the years to become one of the most respected sports car manufacturers worldwide. During the 1950s, MG successfully expanded to North America, where it was largely responsible for the roadster boom. The golden age of MG had dawned! Stylistically, the foundation stone for the brand’s success was laid with the MG M-Type – the car impressed with an affordable price, a convincing appearance and unlimited driving pleasure. This was followed by true classics such as the MGA, which is still one of the most sought-after English classic car to this day. The MGB and the flagship version, the MGB GT V8, followed later. With their reliable and sporty roadsters, MG hit the nerve of the times and today many classic car enthusiasts swear by the manufacturer from Oxford.
Often copied, never (even remotely) matched… the Mini. The small English car revolutionised the automotive world in 1959 withfront-wheel drive and a length of just 3.05 metres. The little speedster was manufactured by a total of four companies over the years and never significantly changed in all that time. By placing the wheels at the outermost corners of the body, it was possible to achieve a maximum inner surface on a minimal footprint. This principle is still used successfully in the small car sector today. Since then, this English classic car has had a special status in the classic car scene: hardly any other vehicle has such a loyal fan base, and the numerous clubs and annual meetings speak for themselves – driving a Mini is a statement, maybe even a way of life.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Morris quickly realised that the future of mobility would take place on four rather than two wheels – in 1913 the bicycle manufacturer switched to the production of automobiles. In the same year the Morris Oxford appeared – also known as the Bull Nosed Morris. Morris established itself more and more as a renowned and popular car manufacturer, thanks to its affordable prices and good quality. In 1948 the manufacturer’s most successful car by far appeared: the Morris Minor, which is still known today as the UK’s VW Beetle. No sports car, no roadster, no extravagant body – and yet perhaps the most popular English classic car of all.
Triumph founder Siegfried Bettmann finally found what he was looking for: a trade name that was understandable in all the most important languages. Like many other manufacturers at the time, Triumph also made itself a name in racing, finding success thanks to powerful engines and good drivers. After financial difficulties – during the Great Depression, the high-priced Triumph Gloria was still offered – Triumph filed for bankruptcy and was sold. Triumph also rode on the victory wave of the English roadster and was able to record great successes with the Triumph TR6, among others. Thanks to the good price-to-performance ratio, a total of around 94,000 Triumph TR6s were sold. This English classic car is a popular entry into the classic car scene.
The name parallel to the English car manufacturer Rover is no coincidence – Land Rover was created in 1948 as the manufacturer’s new brand, which was to specialise in versatile off-road and commercial vehicles. Later, Land Rover would even ensure the survival of the ailing company Rover; even the first presentation of a Land Rover at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948 caused a sensation and great enthusiasm. The model retrospectively known as the Land Rover Series I was produced until 1958, followed by Series II and Series III, which were no less successful. English classic cars from Land Rover are very popular, including the Range Rover Classic, which was presented as a luxury variant of the Land Rover in 1970.
The Spirit of Ecstasy is probably one of the most famous trademarks of the (automobile) world – the legendary Rolls-Royce hood ornament has been enthroned above the radiator grille since 1911 and looks down on the streets below. Rolls-Royce was able to consolidate its reputation as a luxury manufacturer as early as the first quarter of the 20th century, and since the 1930s the name has been representative of celebrity, luxury and exclusivity. To this day, the classic Silver Ghost and Silver Cloud have not been forgotten; while other manufacturers stood out with technical innovation and groundbreaking innovations, Rolls-Royce dominated the luxury sector with exemplary quality and reliability.
TVR was founded in 1947 and quickly made a name for itself in the field of lightweight sports cars – to this day the company has a special status among English classic cars. Although the brand is not the most popular in the United Kingdom, models such as the TVR Sebring, TVR Grantura and TVR Vixen are coveted classics. The manufacturer’s recipe for success included fibreglass bodies, tubular space frames and – who would have thought it – powerful engines. Due to the small number of cars made, particularly in the early days of the company, it is not always easy to find one of the coveted TVR classic cars, which were exported all over the world.
Text Jan Fröhlich Photos Classic Trader
Of the numerous car manufacturers that were already on the scene in the early days, many have fallen by the wayside over time. After 100 eventful years, Bentley is once again undisputedly asserting itself in the luxury segment, even if it is no longer quite as purely British and purely sporty as it was in the beginning.
Continue reading Bentley Motors – 100 Sporty Years
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