The fascination other car-making nations have with the Great British Car is an enduring mystery to me.

Otherwise level headed German and American industry executives seem to be reduced to impressionable enthusiasts when faced with the chance to buy a ‘classic’ British marque.

See the full Bentley Mulsanne picture gallery

Ford started the trend in the late 1980s, snapping up Aston Martin and Jaguar. BMW followed in early 1994, bagging a huge number of live and dead British badges. By the end of the decade, BMW and VW were fighting over Rolls Royce and Bentley.

The defining feature of all these purchases was the need to ‘re-invent’ some classic British car concepts of the past, from the imperious to the classless. In fact, much of the British car industries efforts over the last 20 years have been focused on re-capturing so-called ‘glory years’.

The first big efforts to revive the moribund UK car industry began 20 years ago, after the 1989 Rover 200 showed that bought-in, reliable, technology wrapped in ‘upmarket’ British threads could be a popular antidote to the bland, corporate, cars of the 1980s.