Saturday, August 24, 2013

British Auto Legends

Great Britain’s role in shaping the history of the motor car has been immense, with British marques pushing the boundaries of artistry and innovation throughout the 20th century and on into the next. The Jaguar E-Type married dizzying levels of beauty and performance, while the magnificent Aston Martin DB5 became a motoring icon embedded in popular culture, following its memorable appearance in the 1964 James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’.

British marques are among the most coveted in the world, Rolls-Royce in particular having become a byword for excellence. With the arrival of the Silver Shadow in the mid 1960s, the brand entered the realm of mass production but without sacrificing quality or that all-important sense of grandeur. Similarly, Morgan has continued to employ time-honoured coach building methods to create cars that attract a loyal following. Equally popular is Lotus, which was founded by engineering genius Colin Chapman, who, after changing the landscape in Formula One racing during the 1960s, took on the Continental supercar elite with the Esprit in the 1970s.

Of all the illustrious British marques, few have come to define their niche so completely as MG, nor enjoyed such enduring popularity as the MGB. Stylish, of the moment and affordable, on its introduction in 1962 demand outstripped supply and it soon became the world’s best-selling roadster. In many ways, it echoed the success of sister brands that existed under the British Motor Corporation umbrella. The Morris Minor, for example, became the UK’s first million-selling automobile, the emergence of van and pick-up variants proving a boon to business large and small. Similarly, the off-road ability of the original Land Rover guaranteed approval with private and commercial operators alike. It became a design classic, as recognisable as the iconic Austin FX4 ‘black cab’ with which it once shared an engine. Ford also has a rich tradition of success in the UK, the Anglia proving itself an economical and reliable police car in the 1960s.   

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