Wednesday November 30th, 2011 12:26 5 Classic British Family Cars

British car manufacturing has been in the doldrums for many years. The major manufacturers have all been swallowed up by overseas companies, or have disappeared completely. Whilst there are still many manufacturing plants in the UK, most of the vehicles that emerge from them are designed elsewhere.

For many years however, Britain was the world’s foremost car manufacturer and many iconic designs were produced and exported around the world. This includes models such as the Jaguar E-Type, Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and the Aston Martin DB5. Just as commonplace though are some of the more practical family designs.

The Austin 7

This was one of the first classic British cars, with a design that was reproduced worldwide in various guises. Ultimately it was to change the direction of the industry by successfully introducing the smaller car design that became popular with the general public. Many different versions were produced, including Saloons, Cabriolets, Sports cars and even vans with nearly 300,000 vehicles in total between 1922 and 1939.

Morris Minor/Morris 1000

Over 1.3 million Morris Minors were produced between 1948 and 1971, and this was the first British car to break the 1 million sales mark. It had been designed by Alec Issigonis, who later designed the Mini, to be an affordable car for the working classes and it was undoubtedly one of the main catalysts of the post-war motoring boom.
Today, the Minor is well remembered with a thriving community of clubs and groups dedicated to restoring and remembering these family classics. In fact, the Minor lives on, with production continuing in Sri Lanka.


The Mini is perhaps the most iconic of all British cars and one of the most influential cars ever designed. First made in 1959, production continued until 2000 during which time it became a movie icon, a rally star as well as being one of the most popular cars ever made.
The revolutionary design for the time made it possible to create a very small car that still had room for four passengers, and was a direct response to the fuel rationing that had come about after the Suez Crisis. That it had such longevity is testament to Alec Issigonis, the head designer, and his team.

Ford Cortina

Another classic family car that also saw success in motorsport, the Ford Cortina was introduced in 1962 to replace the Ford Consul Classic. The racing and rally versions, built in conjunction with Lotus, were very successful, winning championships in touring cars and a number of rally victories in the late 1960s.

During the 1970s, it became one of the bestselling British cars right up until it was replaced by the Ford Sierra in 1982.

Rover P6

The Rover P6, introduced in 1963, was voted the first ever European Car of the Year in 1964 and also won awards for its safety features. Imagine that, a British car lauded as Europe’s finest! More than 300,000 vehicles were made before production ceased in 1977, Rover having introduced the SD1 as a replacement.

Mark Chalcraft is a writer with an interest in all things motoring. He is writing on behalf of 4Wheelz, who provide driving lessons in Birmingham for learners who aspire to one day own a classic British family car. Or possibly a Ferrari.

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