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The Queen officially turns 90 years old tomorrow, marking the start of a host of celebrations over the next few weeks to mark the occasion. To celebrate the Queen coming of age, Trusted Dealers have come up with a list of favourite iconic British cars that, like the Queen, have stood the test of time, and changed history for the better.
Take a look below at Trusted Dealers’ top ten iconic British cars of all time.
We start our list with one of the world’s most recognised cars, James Bond’s infamous Aston Martin DB5. Appearing in a number of 007 movies, starting with Goldfinger in 1964 starring Sean Connery, the DB5 put Aston Martin on the map as the first ever car to appear in the film franchise. Despite only an adequate performance of 285bhp generated from its straight-six engine, the DB5 was revered for its good looks and impeccable style. Due to only 1,023 models ever being produced, the Aston Martin DB5 remains hot property in today’s market, with used Aston Martin DB5 cars ranging from £100,000-£500,000 depending on the condition.
2. Rolls-Royce Phantom
Rolls Royce has remained an iconic brand ever since the arrival of its Silver Ghost in 1906 which set new benchmarks in build quality and refinement. After a difficult period whereby Rolls Royce cars came under scrutiny and its cars were becoming anachronisms, the Phantom was built in 2003 to appeal to the modern world and offer buyers a luxury, contemporary looking sedan with excellent credentials. It immediately won Top Gear ‘Car of the Year’ the same year and still serves as the company’s flagship model thanks to its effortless power and impeccable quality.
The Mini Cooper remains one of Britain’s most famous icons of the twentieth century. Today’s MINI is quite different to its original model pioneered by Sir Alec Issigonis. Now under the ownership of popular car brand BMW, the company has not only made it bigger, it has also released a series of new models better suited to a modern lifestyle. After many different generations spanning from the original Austin Mini in 1959 to the version we see today, the Mini remains highly popular with buyers looking for something compact, quirky, well-engineered and fun to drive. Brought to the public’s attention in the famous film, The Italian Job, starring Michael Caine, it has also earned its stripes as a rally car, gaining numerous wins throughout the sixties.
4. McLaren F1
One of the great British icons of all cars, the F1 continues to be highly revered by all that know it. The success the McLaren enjoyed at Le Mans catapulted it into the public eye as well as its phenomenal production car speed records, reaching up to 242mph in tests. The F1 proved what could be achieved by engineering – if money was no object. For 14 years the McLaren F1 remained the fastest ever production car, beaten only by the Bugatti Veyron in 2005. Built without compromise, the F1 was the first carbon-fibre bodied car, with an engine bay lined with gold leaf to deflect the heat from its mighty engine. Used samples sell for double what they cost new – a testament to the car’s unique iconic status.
First released in 1994, and built for Europe in 1996, the Lotus Elise is still going strong thanks to its unique image, fast pace and excellent performance that has kept fans wanting more, The success of the Lotus Elise was very much down to its founder, the late Colin Chapman who put Lotus on the map by obsessively cutting out all the unnecessary weight in his cars and fine tuning their performance and handling potential, producing what is essentially a genuine, reasonably affordable British sports car.
6. Range Rover
A revolution in motoring history came in the form of the Land Rover Range Rover. Spen King recognised a gap in the market for a larger and more comfortable Land Rover, and so the Range Rover was born, creating a new sector of vehicle which is still highly popular in today’s market. Designed as an all-terrain vehicle, but comfortable enough to be an everyday luxury car, the first Range Rovers came with a built in radio. Today, the Range Rover has evolved into a symbol of ultimate luxury, favoured by those who can afford its price tag.
Legendary British-made sports car, the Jaguar E-type, was first released in 1961 and immediately proved highly popular thanks to its stylish looks, competitive pricing and high performance – Jaguar claimed 150mph was possible – and they weren’t wrong by much! The E-type was an expensive car, but still cheaper than rivals Ferrari or Maserati, outperforming them both. Highly sought after is the 1961-64 models with covered headlamps and a 3.8-litre I-6 engine, which contributed to more than 70,000 sales during its short life between 1961 and 1975.
The Land Rover quite simply revolutionised the off-road sector. Built as the British equivalent of the American Jeep, and inspired by Willys Jeep during the War, the Land Rover became the vehicle of choice for many businesses due to its light four wheel drive, go anywhere approach. The first three Series of Land Rovers were rugged and sparse, but offered incredible off-road capability, making them the perfect choice of car for farmers, vets, road rescue firms and more. The ride and handling on the pavement was a bit rough, but nevertheless, the Land Rover offered enough appeal to keep Rover in business after the war and for many more years.
Originally named the 901, the Porsche was renamed the 911 due to Peugeot registering the rights to the digits 901. Produced from 1963, the original Porsche 911 quickly became the world’s most famous and instantly recognisable sports car. Built with a rear engine, iconic design and state-of-the-art technology, the 911 has changed very little in ethos in the past 63 years. With hundreds of alterations – the engine remains mounted at the rear of the car, and it still works just fine.
The Volkswagen Beetle, or ‘Volkswagen Bug’, first went on sale in 1938 and was manufactured worldwide for 65 years until production ceased in 2003. The later models were arguably closer in styling to the original model, a testament to the popularity of this look and style. Originally built as an economy car under the instruction of Adolf Hitler, who was looking for a cheap, simple car that could be mass produced for the road network in Germany, the Beetle was built by Porsche and it took 4 years to finalise the design. The Beetle was one of the first rear-engined cars with over 21 million manufactured.