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The best British cars ever made

A red MiniCars loved at home and exported across the globe. Motoring writer Rob Griffin picks six examples of British engineering prowess that have stood the test of time.

As undeniably British as London buses and a Sunday roast, these are the cars that have made Britain proud.

Mini

The fact that so many original Minis – not the sleek modern version favoured by estate agents – still exist is testament to this amazing little car's enduring appeal.

First appearing in 1959, the Mini, pictured above, went through various incarnations until production ceased in 2000.

The cheap, economical, two-door machine was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and became one of the iconic cars of the buzzing 1960s.

A racier version – the Mini Cooper – was also produced in conjunction with John Cooper, a legendary name in motorsport, which enjoyed significant success on the rally scene.

Aston Martin DB5

The beautiful Aston Martin DB5 entered production in 1963.

But it was its appearance as James Bond's car of choice in the movie Goldfinger the following year that really marked its place in history.

Author Ian Fleming had originally placed 007 in an Aston Martin DB Mark III, but as the DB5 had just been introduced by Aston Martin the decision was made to use that version instead.

Aston Martin's association with the secret agent successfully increased both sales of the DB5 and the profile of the company.

Jaguar E-Type

What's not to love about the Jaguar E-Type?

Its sleek looks are just as eye-catching today as they were when this remarkable machine first started rolling off the assembly lines back in the early 1960s.

After being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, it was described by Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car ever built".

It went pretty well too: being capable of 150mph and costing a fraction of the price of similar rivals, it attracted a following and remained on sale for 14 years.

Morris Minor

Pink Morris MinorWhen you consider some of the rubbish that bore the Morris name, the cute Morris Minor is a well-loved triumph.

Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, creator of the Mini, well over a million Minors were made between 1948 and the early 1970s.

Its success lay in its simplicity and durability, while it was also praised for being roomy and having impressive handling characteristics for its time.

A number of van and pick-up versions of the Minor were also built for use by businesses.

The Moggie, as it's often called, remains hugely popular today with classic car enthusiasts.

Caterham Seven

Caterham 7If you love sports cars then the Caterham Seven - also known as Caterham 7 - will be right up your street.

Originally created by Colin Chapman and launched as the Lotus 7 in 1957, the lightweight two-seater machine has become famed over more than half a century for its agility, performance, and driving experience.

These days more than half of the cars produced at the Dartford factory are exported around the world, with Japan, France and Germany, among the keenest customers.

It also has a strong racing heritage with hundreds of competitors and dedicated events around the world.

McLaren F1

McLaren F1Okay, this machine won't be in your budget unless you're among the super-rich, but the McLaren F1 certainly deserves its place on this list.

Back in the late 1980s, McLaren took the decision to expand from Formula One and build "the finest sports car the world had ever seen".

The McLaren F1 road car was subsequently unveiled in 1992, with the first production car delivered at the end of 1993.

It was full of innovative design features, such as a central driving position, but with an eye watering price tag of £540,000.

On 31 March 1998 it became the fastest production car in the world when it hit a remarkable 240.1mph – an honour it held for more than a decade.

What do you think?

Are these the best British cars ever made?

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Rob Griffin

Rob Griffin

Rob Griffin is a freelance journalist who regularly appears in national publications, including The Independent and Daily Express. He covers motoring, business, and personal finance issues.

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