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Best of British cars

by staff writer JP

What would be your top British car of all time? Mini Cooper S or McLaren F1? Jaguar E-type or XKSS? Range Rover or perhaps the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost? There’s only one way to find out: visit Classic & Sports Car ? The London Show this autumn. Classic & Sports Car magazine has already polled 100 key figures in the classic car world to establish a top ten shortlist and now wants all enthusiasts to have a say in which car should come out on pole position.

The criterion for the shortlist was straightforward: the car simply had to be recognised and acknowledged as British, so it didn’t matter whether it was an Italian-designed Aston Martin or an American-engined Jensen. And selections could be made for any reason, so cars such as the original Mini and Austin Seven sit alongside technological tours de force such as the McLaren F1 and road-going racers such as the Jaguar XKSS.

Led by the expert editorial team from Classic & Sports Car ? the world’s best-selling classic car magazine – key players tasked with producing an overall shortlist included McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray, Lotus Head of Design Russell Carr, Pink Floyd drummer and classic car collector, Nick Mason, Dire Straits front man and classic car enthusiast, Mark Knopfler, plus motor racing author and commentator, Simon Taylor.

They debated a long list of cars with strong cases made for much-loved classics as varied as the Aston Martin DB5, Bristol 405, Ford Escort Mexico, Jaguar D-type, Rover SD1 and even the Gordon Keeble. Lotus had the most models on the longlist, but only one ? the Seven ? garnered enough votes from the panel to make the final top ten. The models ranked 10 to 20 were Lotus Elan, Elise and Elite (type 14), Land Rover, Jaguar XJ6 and XK120, Bentley Continental R Fastback, Ford Transit, Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and the MGB.

The final top ten shortlist is as follows:

Austin Seven

Bentley Speed Six

Ford GT40

Jaguar E-type

Jaguar XKSS

Lotus Seven

McLaren F1

Mini Cooper S

Range Rover

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Contenders for the crown will be on display at Alexandra Palace alongside the eventual winner. Speaking about the contenders, McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray voted the Mini: “It’s the work of a genius ? a true game changer. Fantastic packaging and styling, a front-wheel-drive pioneer with brilliant handling and motorsport success as well. The true success story is that the Mini was absolutely classless.”

A big vote to the Jaguar E-type was Lotus Head of Design, Russell Carr: “Its projectile styling must have looked staggering when compared to the Austins and even Ferraris of the day. Its design has real speed and sophistication. The dramatic long bonnet and cab rearward proportion combined with delicate intakes and chrome detailing still get kids to gawp.”

Voting on the Austin Seven, Simon Taylor said: “There were cheap cars before, but they usually had fewer wheels and fewer cylinders than a real car. The miracle of the original Austin Seven was that it really was just like a proper car, but smaller. It paved the way for all the successful small cars that followed, from Great Britain and overseas.” Tickets for Classic & Sports Car ? The London Show are now on sale. Visit www.classicandsportscarshow.com or call 08445 811275 to book yours.