Mighty Mini tops list of iconic British cars

New poll gives pride of place to 'class-less' classic. Picture: PA
New poll gives pride of place to 'class-less' classic. Picture: PA
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THE humble Mini has been confirmed as the best British car ever built in a new poll out today.

The original model, launched 55 years ago, beat other designs like the Jaguar E-type and Range Rover to top the Autocar magazine survey for a second time.

However, other favourites such as the McLaren F1 have been joined in the top ten by the electric Yamaha Motiv.E and the Aston Martin DB5, which James Bond revived for a starring role in Skyfall.

The readers’ poll also named Norfolk-based Lotus as the most popular British manufacturer, with seven of its models making the 100 best British cars list.

The survey, which attracted thousands of entries, celebrates 120 years of British car making, and follows a similar poll two years ago.

The Mini sold 5.4 million and changed the face of post-war driving before production ended in 2000. A larger and more powerful version was reinvented by BMW the following year.

Created by Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini achieved worldwide fame, being dubbed the first “class-less car”. They famously starred as the getaway vehicles in the Michael Caine crime caper the Italian Job in 1969.

Autocar editor Chas Hallett said: “It comes as little surprise the original Mini has topped the list of all-time British greats. It’s such an iconic vehicle.

“Everyone loved and still loves an original Mini. It ensured a fabulous drive every time, plus it was cheap to own and run.

“Many a former owner will undoubtedly be wishing they had held on to theirs, as good examples are now worth tens of thousands of pounds.”

Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis, co-­director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, said: “The Mini is probably the most significant world car, together with the Model T and VW Beetle.

“It introduced to mass production the format of a compact car with transverse engine and front wheel drive, thereby optimising interior space.

“It is now the layout used by most mass-produced cars.”

Motoring groups have also hailed the Mini’s achievement. Automobile Association president Edmund King said: “The Mini is a true iconic car that brought affordable and fun motoring to the masses.

“It is one of only a few cars successfully reincarnated.”

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “The Mini was a classic in every sense – design, practicality, performance and of course desirability.

“The only shame is it has taken four decades for the British car industry to be able to turn those assets into profits.”

The seven Lotus models in the top 100 were the Elise, Esprit, Elan, Cortina, Evora, Carlton and Sunbeam. Jaguar and Ford has six models listed, while Aston Martin has five.

Mr Hallett said: “It’s no surprise a manufacturer [Lotus] that is held in such high regard tops the list of manufacturers.

“Over the years, Lotus has produced some wonderful examples of British engineering.”


1 Original Mini

2 McLaren F1

3 Jaguar E-type

4 Range Rover

5 Yamaha Motiv.E

6 McLaren P1

7 Jaguar XJ220

8 Aston Martin DB5

9 TVR Griffith

10 Ford Escort Mexico