Thursday September 3, 2015
The Rise, Fall, & Rise again of the British Classic
The Germans may have invented the automobile.
The Americans may think they are the home of the automobile.
And the Italians may have created some of the most stylish automobiles ever to be created.
So it may come as a surprise that at one time the home of the most prolific production and greatest ranges of sports cars available in the world was in fact on our very own shores.
We couldn’t throw them together fast enough to meet the demand.
So why was the world so besotted with our offering?
Well, one of the major contributors was that they were affordable, as anything prior that was remotely sporty required a King’s ransom not only to purchase, but to run and repair.
Therefore keeping things rather agricultural and basic meant that our British offerings were pretty reliable and when something did go wrong you could basically fix it with a paper clip and a bit of imagination.
This ease of ownership, plus the fact they were generally pretty plucky, also added something everyone the world over was looking for... FUN.
Whether your stead was a Frogeye Sprite or Jaguar E type, the one thing that our cars did in bucket loads was put a smile across the face of many an owner, and given that our styling wasn’t too shabby either, it also put smiles on the faces of many a bystander.
In fact when Enzo Ferrari first laid eyes on the E type Jaguar he described it as the most beautiful car ever made, high praise from a man renowned for producing some of the most gorgeous sports cars of all time.
So where did it all go wrong?
Well, like anything, if you rest on your past successes and don’t continue to evolve and invest in development you get left behind by others that want to take your mantle. Sadly, that was exactly what happened as is evident by the runaway success that the Mazda MX5 has seen the world over.
Image: Car and Classic
Their principle was based on the traditional aspects of the British sports car, engaging to drive, fun, inexpensive and good looking but they had developed it further into a car that now offered undisputable reliability and thus reassurance and confidence in the brand.
And it is this last point that was probably one of the biggest contributors to the demise of the quintessential British sports car, we lost confidence in our own products.
And thus the dawn of the hatch back took over with offerings from both France and Germany stepping in to take up the reigns of a younger audience that wanted faster, more efficient and comfortable cars.
But there is no denying even to this day that the sight or gentle rumble of a true British sports car on a lovely summer’s day still stirs the emotions and desires in any true motoring enthusiast.
Which is why they are arguably more popular today, more so than in their heyday.