The original Mini is the best British car ever built, according to a survey of Autocar readers.
It comes as little surprise that the original Mini has topped the list of all-time British greats. It’s such an iconic vehicle and represents so much more than the British car industry. The Mini is associated with Great Britain around the world and, in many ways, it was ahead of its time.
But just what constitutes a British car? Cars from Brit-owned firms – Austin, Bristol, Morgan – were shoe-ins. As were models from firms that, like Bentley and Rolls-Royce, have always been based within these shores, but now have foreign owners.
That was the easy bit; for the rest we had to dig deeper. The UK has built its share of duffers, but from them our rich motorsport tradition has alchemised gems such as the Lotus Sunbeam, Chevette HSR and Avenger Tiger.
We included a few curve balls. The Renault Mégane RS 225 raised eyebrows. It was the first complete car by British engineering firm Ricardo, which developed the chassis, brakes, steering, styling and engine upgrades.
And it is perhaps the Renault Mégane that sums up the British car industry best: the world’s most talented engineers making cars the very best they can be.
Meanwhile, the results revealed that Lotus is Britain’s most popular manufacturer of all time, with eight models in the top 100 – more than any other. Hot on the Norfolk-based manufacturer's heels are Jaguar and Ford, both with six models on the list. Aston Martin is up next with five.