Steve runs through a selection of vehicles which defines Britain
A true motoring icon, the Mini was designed to be an economy family car by Austin and Rover between 1959-2000. It was fitted with a transverse engine which allowed for 80% of the vehicle space to be used for people and luggage. But also had other innovative features such as rubber cones for the suspension which saved space along with being built as a monocoque which improved handling. The Min came about due to the threat of competition from other manufactures bringing small cars to Britain such as the Fiat 500 and the Bubble car. The Mini managed to win the nations heart, not only by being very successful in rallying, even winning the Monte Carlo Rally but it also appeared in the cult classic film the Italian Job. This cemented our love affair with the Mini.
Jaguar E Type
Enzo Ferrari described the E Type as the most beautiful care ever made and he wasn't wrong, the body was exquisite craftmanship. it wasn't just a fancy body on rubbish mechanicals either as the E Type was built as a unity construction, V12 petrol engine which could hit 150mph and was actually based on Jaguars successful D Type Le Mans racing cars which had run the race in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Not only did the E type look prettier and out perform its rivals but what sealed the deal for most buyers was that it was cheaper too. When the E type saloon was deputed, there was such a demand for the car Jaguar had a test driver take a convertible version over to Geneva, driving on through the night to make sure it got there the following morning. It naturaly had a very successful production run being built between 1961-1975.
The Reliant brand made some of the worlds most popular 3 wheeled vehicles from the 1940s right through until the year 2000. The Reliant pioneered using fibreglass to make the bodies for their vehicles along with galvanising the chassis which helped provide longevity for their products. Reliant also made their own aluminium engines Their popularity and cult status is in part thanks to a yellow Regal Supervan which featured in the TV series Only Fools and Horses. The Reliant 3 wheelers have a loyal following and friendly/social clubs.
Aston Martin DB5
No list of British cars would be complete without including the Aston Martin DB5 which despite selling in limited numbers, came to fame due to its role in the James Bond 007 franchise. Roger Moore could be seen tearing round in the films with a DB5 full of futuristic gadgets such as elector seats, machine guns, smoke sprayer and the ability to drop oil slicks. One of the Bond DB5 cars was later used in the Cannonball Run film with Roger Moore behind the wheel. Due to demand the DB5 is back in production but with a limited production run.
The Morris Minor also known as the Moggy Minor was the successor to the Morris 8 and made its depute in 1948 and remained in production until 1972 on which point over 1.6 million had been sold. The Minor was available in 2 door or 4 door saloon as well as convertible, van and as an estate known as the Traveler. Designed to be a family car the Minor was fitted with rack and pinion steering and independent suspension which was modern technology in 1948 and engines were either 1000cc or 1.1cc. the Minor bowed out of production thanks to competition with other British Leyland products such as the Mini and Austin 1100 proving more popular. However the Minor has proved popular with British culture thanks to its popularity and god looks.
Bedford Val coach
The Bedford Val was a 6 wheeled chassis designed by Bedford and with 4 wheel steering which was quite a novelty at the time. various coach builders built bodies for the chassis including Plaxton, Major Vega, Harrington and Dupel to name a few and were aimed at being an executive coach. They were also sold abroad to some Asian countries as well as Australia and New Zealand. Some of the coaches were used as race transporters most notably the Brabham race team had a Plaxton bodied version. However, the Coaches main claims to fame are in part due to two other British Icons, the Beetles and the film classic the Italian Job. The Beetles used a Plaxton bodied Val on their Magical Mystery Tour and in the Italian job a Harrington Legionaire coach is used as the get away vehicle to transport the 3 Minis.
Austin/Carbodies/LTI FX4/Fairway Taxi
The FX4/Fairway was built between 1958 and 1997 by Austin, then Carbodies and finally London Taxi International and became a symbol of Britain due to their popularity as Hakney carriages and affectionally known as the black cab. Offered with a variety of diesel engines over its life time the FX4/Fairway was replaced in 1998 with the LTI TX1 which along with its successors has managed to gain as much affection as its FX4 predecessor.
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
Is still the best selling Rolls Royce model made between 1965-1980 in two versions the Shadow 1 and shadow 2, on which most found owners of Royalty or celebrities such as Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Keith Moon who famously drove his Silver Shadow into a swimming pool. The Silver Shadow was the first Rolls Royce to use unitary chassis and body construction which offered increased space. the car was powered by a v8 engine, automatic gearbox and hydropneumatics suspension which allowed it to waft down the road.
The Austin 7 is truly the first British peoples car built between 1923-1939 and was sold as an economy known and known as the baby Austin and available as a saloon or convertible known as a tourer. It proved very successful both here and abroad and both Japanese car manufacturing and BMW both owe credit to this humble Austin as it was the first BMW car made under licence as well as being made under licence in japan after the Second World War. Also the 7 was used as the basis by Bruce Mclaran and Lotus for their first specials in racing.
I hope you've enjoyed looking through this list as much as I did creating it, but don't be disappointed if your favourite classic isn't on it, as there will be a sequel.