Back in 2008 the digital TV channel Dave ran a poll to name the most iconic British car of all time. The top three cars were the Aston Martin DB5, the E Type Jag and the Mini Cooper. Below we opt for our own choices (in reverse order of preference), including some that didn't even make it on Dave's list:
The Austin Cambridge appeared in several generations from September 1954 through to 1969. Initially the Cambridge was only offered with a 4-passenger, 4-door saloon body, although a few pre-production 2-door models were also made. It had a modern body design with integrated wings and a full-width grille. A van derivative introduced in November 1956 and a pick-up introduced in May 1957 remained available until 1971, some time after the demise of the cars on which they had been based.
Wolseley's first car was designed in 1895 by none other than Herbert Austin, who would go on to found his own Austin Motor Company some ten years later. Early Wolseley cars had been elegant luxury models competing with Napier, Rolls-Royce and Daimler. Following the Morris take-over the models from Wolseley were based on modified Morris chassis, although they soon gained a loyal following from Britain's middle classes as well as the Police.
The Rover Company was founded as Starley & Sutton Co. of Coventry in 1878. After developing the template for the modern bicycle with its Rover Safety Bicycle of 1885, the company moved into the automotive industry. The 1950s and '60s were fruitful years for the company. The Rover P4 series were particularly stylish saloons produced from 1949 to 1964, the P4 90 was made between 1953-59. Testing the Ninety in 1954 The Motor magazine recorded a top speed of 90.0 mph.
AUSTIN A40 FARINA
The Austin A40 Farina was the first Austin to have its body designed by the Italian stylist Pininfarina. This car was launched in 1958 as a 2 door saloon or 3 door countryman. The Countryman was one of the first British hatchbacks. This was to be the last rear wheel drive car that Austin produced. The car was a popular choice, in modified form, for competition work and was entered in the 1961 Monte Carlo Rally. The A40 Farina was discontinued in November 1967.
William Morris' first car was named after his home city. The first model - The Bluenose appeared in 1913. By the late 1940's Morris needed a modern, mid-sized, family saloon, in 1948 they launched the new Oxford MO. The Oxford IV was the only version made in an estate and arrived in 1957; produced until 1960. The Oxford VI remained in production until 1971 when the Oxford class disappeared. In July 1967 the log book of a 1964 Morris Oxford was sold to an American collector; the car's original owner, by then deceased, had been Sir Winston Churchill.
AUSTIN A40 DEVON
Launched in 1947 as part of Austin's first post-war family saloon range; the A40 Devon and A40 Dorset. The Devon proved to be the more popular; its four doors being ideal for small families. The A40 Devon was replaced in 1952 but not before selling well during its production, earning much needed export orders from around the world. The A40 was produced in miniature form as a child's pedal car and sold by Austin dealers as the J40, these small toys are now easier to find than the real car!
The Corsair, introduced at the London Motor Show in October 1963, was also bulit in a convertible version by Crayford in Kent and is now very rare and highly sought after as a classic two-door saloon, the type of which were only briefly available in the UK. The Corsair had unusual and quite bold styling for its day, with a sharp horizontal V-shaped crease at the very front of the car into which round headlights were inset. This gave the car an apparently aerodynamic shape. The jet-like styling extended to the rear where sharply pointed vertical light clusters hinted at fins. It was succeeded by the Ford Granada.
The Marina was launched by British Leyland in 1971 as British Leyland's answer to the Ford Cortina. Despite heavy criticism from the media and motoring press, the car's lack of technical sophistication permitted it to be keenly priced and the Morris Marina was a very popular car in Britain and was among the country's best selling cars throughout its production life, peaking at second place – only surpassed by the Ford Cortina – in 1973.
The Cortina was launched in 1962. The Cortina was Ford's mass-market mid-sized car and was produced in five generations, all selling over 1 million cars with each successive model proving more popular than its predecessor. In the 1970s it was Britain's best-selling car and such was its fame in the UK that the BBC Two documentary series Arena once devoted an edition to the car and its enthusiasts (Private Life of the Ford Cortina - 1982).
Produced from 1963, the Imp became very popular with drivers due to its superb gear shift and great road-holding which made it ideal for racing. Imps were built in Linwood, Scotland. The Rootes Group produced 440,000 cars. It sold thanks to its competitive price, distinctive styling and cheap running costs, but sales never lived up to expectations for what had become a very competent small car, due, in many peoples opinion, to poor marketing.
- was launched soon after Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939 as a facelifted version of the Ford 7Y, a simple vehicle aimed at the cheap end of the market, with few features. The final Anglia model, the 105E, was introduced in 1959. Its American-influenced styling included a sweeping nose line, and on deluxe versions, a full-width slanted chrome grille in between prominent 'eye' headlamps. The car enjoyed huge commercial success. It was replaced by the Ford Escort.
Capri was a name used by the Ford Motor Company for three different models. The Ford Capri coupé was produced by Ford of Europe from 1969 to 1986. Ford's European advertising slogan was "The car you always promised yourself". Capris enjoyed a high profile on Television throughout the 80s. In The Professionals, Bodie and Doyle used Mk3s and Minder featured a Capri in its opening sequence. Terry McCann, played by Dennis Waterman was behind the wheel of various Capris during it's run. Perhaps as a result of this, the third generation Capri was also one of the most stolen cars in Britain during the 1980s and early 1990s!
JAGUAR E - TYPE
The Jaguar E-Type was manufactured between 1961 and 1975. On its release Enzo Ferrari called it "The most beautiful car ever made". Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, over seventy thousand E-Types were sold during its lifespan. In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in Daily Telegraph list of the "100 Most Beautiful Cars" of all time. In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.
ASTON MARTIN DB5
The coolest car ever to take to the road and a true icon of the 1960s, the Aston Martin DB5 was launched in 1963 but found immortality when it appeared in the 1964 James Bond film 'Goldfinger'. Modified by effects expert John Stears the movie version was fitted out with all the essential gadgets that any self respecting secret agent would require, including retractable rear bullet proof screen, tyre slashers, forward firing machine guns and a passenger ejector seat with removable roof panel. Ideal for removing unwanted visitors!
The Mini, as if it needs any introduction, is a small car that was made by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000. The original is considered a British icon of the 1960s and its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout influenced a generation of car-makers. The vehicle is in some ways considered the British equivalent to its German contemporary, the Volkswagen Beetle, which enjoyed similar popularity in North America. In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th Century, behind the Ford Model T. It's our choice of most iconic British car of all time!