The best British-made cars you’ve never heard of

Britain has a proud tradition of manufacturing impeccable-quality vehicles. Of course, you’re probably already familiar with British luxury brands like Rolls Royce and Jaguar, which only a lucky few can afford. You also probably know about truly iconic British vehicles like the Mini. However, there’s much more to the UK’s history of car manufacturing than these makes. Some of the most impressive and widely-loved cars ever made rolled off the production lines here in Britain.

Here at, we’ve decided to celebrate Britain’s contribution to the automotive world by looking back at five of the best cars ever produced in this plucky little country. We’ve deliberately omitted some of the better-known vehicles so that we can introduce to some that you might not have heard of.

1. The Austin Seven

The Austin Seven is a beautiful classic car that was manufactured between 1922 and 1939. It had a similar, iconic look to the famous Model T Ford but was much smaller. The Austin Seven’s unique selling point was its ultra-compact size, which meant it was very fuel-efficient for the time it was made. It was designed to supplant the motorbike-and-sidecar combinations that less well-off road users had previously preferred. It didn’t quite succeed at this. However, it did start a trend for smaller cars and was imitated by larger manufacturers, such as Jaguar and BMW. Ultimately, it paved the way for the Mini, the most famous compact British car ever made.

2. The Triumph Herald

At first glance, it’s hard to see anything particularly remarkable about the Triumph Herald, which was built between 1959 and 1971. It’s not sporty or unusually small. However, an entire generation of drivers fell in love with this wonderfully-designed vehicle because of how practical it was. It boasted an exceptionally tight turning circle, which meant it could carry out manoeuvres very easily. This made it the car of choice for driving schools and learner drivers who didn’t have the experience to handle cars with larger turning circles. However, it was spacious enough to be used as a family car, meaning that many learners kept their Heralds after they passed their tests. Of course, the Triumph Herald is also a wonderful-looking car. You can still get your hands on one today, for as little as £500, if you want to own a slice of history.

3. The Lotus Esprit

Has there ever been a more unusual-looking car than the Lotus Esprit? Even today, its unique, wedge-like shape gives it a retro-futuristic look. It resembles a vehicle from a science fiction film and there’s something undeniably charming about it. Ironically, its claim to fame actually comes from appearing in a spy film rather than a sci-fi one. It was used in the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and became a legend among Bond enthusiasts overnight. The vehicle was also incredibly light, meaning that it was surprisingly fuel-efficient and could move with great speed, despite its relatively modest engine. The car was so popular that Esprits started rolling off production lines in 1976 and were still being manufactured in 2004.

4. The McLaren F1

The McLaren F1 is simply one of the greatest supercars ever made. Between 1992 and 1998, only 106 of these vehicles were produced. They were made from exotic materials, were ultra-light and possessed over 620hp of horsepower. The top speed of a McLaren F1 was a staggering 240mph, making it one of the fastest cars of its era.

5. The Ariel Atom

Setting up a new sports car company in the UK is notoriously difficult. However, in the year 2000, a company called Ariel was launched and it’s still going strong today. The Atom is the key to Ariel’s success. In essence, the Atom is a modified racing car with an extra seat and just enough adjustments to make it legal to drive on ordinary British roads. It’s lean, powerful and, as the newest car on this list, it’s also proof that Britain still has many innovations to offer the motoring world.

Britain has been making incredible cars since the automobile was first invented. We believe that every single one of the vehicles listed in today’s blog deserves to be remembered as part of our automotive history. If you have a favourite British-made vehicle, why not tell us about it?