Mini, McLaren, Jaguar and Range Rover are easy leaders in Autocar’s
list of Britain’s best-ever 100 cars. I’ve no problem endorsing the first couple of dozen but, notwithstanding Gordon Murray’s ingenious contribution, the Yamaha Motiv.e at 5 looks like lip-service to greenery-yallery. The Jaguar XJ220 also poses a question. It was neither a commercial nor technical success and needed a lot of fettling before it reached reality. Driving it was like looking at the world through a letterbox. The Aston Martins in the list are an odd bunch with no ground-breaking DB2, elegant DBS or Ian Callum DB7. Similarly it’s difficult to include a D-type Jaguar – OK on the Mulsanne straight but a bit of a handful on corners – and leave out the C-type which was more precise and exciting.
McLaren F1 (above): Collected daughter Joanna from school during my road test. She’s older now, still beautiful.
Austin-Healey Sprite. 71st. This was my second one at Turnberry. Wonderfully crisp, precise car.
Lotuses are questionable on grounds of quality and reliability but I’m surprised there is no Elan Plus2S. It was beautifully proportioned. I once did 300 miles in three hours with one. There you are the older I get the faster I was. I would not include any TVR; all I drove were just brute force and ignorance. Blower Bentleys were something of an aberration. I suppose they were glamorous but never won anything like the unsupercharged cars. Derby Bentleys are missing from the list. Surely the Silent Sports Car deserves better. Jensen-Healey – delete. Not well made, hastily modified and really quite dull. Same goes for the Daimler Dart SP250. The Edward Turner engine was ok but Daimler was so strapped for cash it had to cobble up a horrid plastic body that creaked and cracked.
One of my first drives in an E-type; Scottish Motor Show after introduction at Geneva in 1961 (below), with Jaguar apprentice Clive Martin.
No Bristols please. Except for the BMW-based 400 and the beautiful 404 they were heavy and lugubrious. I never went for the mystique so assiduously promoted by writers like the matchless Leonard Setright. Triumph Stag? I thought it was rubbish when I went on the press launch. Hillman Imp? I owned one and when it went it was OK; I drove it to Maranello where I had lunch with Enzo Ferrari, but it was not made very well. Same goes for any Avenger, even the Avenger Tiger. The press launch was on Malta where we couldn’t drive them far enough to grow suspicious of unreliability. The Morgan 3 wheeler or Plus 4 were fine, but the Plus 8 was where Morgan began to lose its way and power outstripped handling. I wouldn’t include a Delorean in any list except perhaps one on how not to develop a sports car. It was terrible. Reliant Scimitar? A definite maybe. Triumph TR5 - not bad until they put a wiggly independent back-end on making it pitch and curtsy. Triumph 1300 absolutely not. And why relegate the MGA to 95th? Shame
Range Rover. Deserves its place. Took this on the press launch by Goonhilly Down, 1970.
Love listsHillman Imp. On road test for The Motor with Penny Duckworth by door. Pre-launch picture so badges taped over.
100.Range Rover Evoque 99. Ginetta G40R 98. Vauxhall Astra 97. Marcos TSO 96. Honda Civic 95. MGA 94. Vauxhall Chevette HSR 93. Triumph Dolomite Sprint 92. Allard J2 91. Honda Jazz 90. Sunbeam Tiger 89. Nissan Juke 88. Invicta Black Prince 87. Noble M12 86. Lotus Carlton 85. Caterham Seven 160 84. Caparo T1 83. Rolls-Royce 10 HP 82. Triumph TR5 PI 81. Radical RXC 80. Triumph 1300 79. Daimler SP250 Dart 78. Morgan 4/4 77. Renault Megane RS 225 76. Noble M600 75. Lotus Sunbeam 74. Morgan Plus 8 73. BAC Mono 72. Gordon-Keeble 71. Austin-Healey Sprite 70. MGB GT 69. Bristol Fighter 68. Ford Cortina 1600E 67. Bowler EXR 66. AC Ace 65. Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 64. Austin FX4 63. Napier-Railton 62. Caterham Supersport 61. Triumph 2000 60. Jaguar F-type 59. Morgan 3-wheeler 58. Reliant Scimitar 57. TVR Sagaris 56. Ford Escort RS2000 55. Bentley Continental GT 54. Ford Capri RS3100 53. Delorean DMC-12 52. Aston Martin V8 51. Ascari KZ1 50. Aston Martin V12 Vantage S 49. Subaru Impreza WRC 48. Hillman Avenger Tiger 47. Triumph Stag 46. Hillman Imp 45. Lister Storm 44. Rover P5B 43. Lotus Evora 42. Rover P6 3500S 41. Nissan Qashqai 40. Ariel Atom 39. Vauxhall Prince Henry 38. Aston Martin One-77 37. Rover 75 36. Jaguar XJ 35. Austin Seven 34. Bristol Blenheim 33. Lotus Cortina 32. Austin-Healey 3000 31. Aston Martin Vanquish 30. Lotus Seven 29. Land Rover 28. Jensen-Healey 27. Lotus Esprit 26. MG Midget 25. McLaren 12C 24. Morris Minor 23. Lotus Elan 22. TVR Speed 12 21. Rover SD1 20. TVR Chimaera 19. BMW Mini 18. Bentley Blower 17. Jaguar XF 16. Ford GT40 15. Rolls-Royce Phantom 14. Lotus Elise 13. Jaguar D-type 12. Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 11. Jensen FF 10. Ford Escort Mexico 9. TVR Griffith 8. Aston Martin DB5 7. Jaguar XJ220 6. McLaren P1 5. Yamaha MOTIV.e 4. Range Rover 3. Jaguar E-type 2. McLaren F1 1. original Mini
Works Austin-Healey 3000 rally car test. I am the fresh-faced youth.