It’s surely a question that has surfaced around many a beer garden table with arguments and counter arguments swaying backwards and forwards between friends and colleagues. The vast array of British cars produced over the years surely means that voting for the Best British Car ever cannot have been an easy task and one where the debate can never truly be said to be over.
But now the answer to the question on the lips of every car enthusiast has been answered: the Best British Car Ever is the Jaguar E-type, revealed today at Classic & Sports Car – The London Show.
Classic & Sports Car Magazine have shared with MotorMartin the following to explain how this decision has been reached. It’s the climax to a six-month process of selection and voting which has seen ten British icons battle to be named the car that people hold closest to their hearts. Today, that winner was revealed, with the wraps pulled off a fittingly special E-type as Classic & Sports Car – The London Show opened its doors to the public at Alexandra Palace.
Interview Stage special guest Ant Anstead, who has recently presented the BBC’s Building Cars Live, took the Autoglym cover off to reveal ‘77 RW’ – the oldest-surviving open E-type and the original car that Norman Dewis OBE, another Interview Stage guest, drove from Coventry almost non-stop to the Geneva Motor Show for its worldwide debut in March 1961.
The Series 1 3.8-litre car was built in in February 1961 as the first production two-seater and, as well as starring on the Geneva show stand, was a press demonstrator, used byThe Motor for its road test, published 22 March 1961. In 2000, Mr Michael Kilgannon, the long-term owner, put ‘77 RW’ on permanent loan to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. The car was then completely restored with the assistance of Martin Robey Limited of Nuneaton.
From today until Sunday 1st November, this particular E-type will feature in a £40m centrepiece display, sponsored by car care and valeting specialist Autoglym, featuring the top ten British cars.
Earlier this year, Classic & Sports Car – the world’s best-selling classic car magazine – asked a jury of more than 100 motoring experts, including McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray, Lotus head of design Russell Carr and former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, to come up with the shortlist of 10 cars. Their nominations ranged from the affordable car that put the nation on wheels, the Austin Seven, to the McLaren F1, the most uncompromised high-performance car ever built.
For stage two that shortlist (which also included the original Range Rover, Lotus Seven, Jaguar XKSS, Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Ford GT40, Mini Cooper S, Bentley Speed Six and Jaguar E-type) was put to a worldwide public poll. And thousands cast their votes with the E-type the overall winner.
As you might expect, the E-type was a big favourite with the expert panel. Gordon Murray praised its “classic styling and advanced engineering”, while Russell Carr nominated it for its “projectile styling” which, he said, “has real speed and sophistication with that dramatic long bonnet and cab rearward proportions.”
Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler singled out the E-type’s combination of style and value for money: “It was the most beautiful car ever made, according to Enzo Ferrari, a lot less expensive and a lot better than the competition, too.” It was a feeling summed up by commentator, Simon Taylor: “Not only the fastest and most beautiful supercar of its day, but also miraculously half or one-third of the price of the cars that it pulverised. If they’d only made 75, instead of 75,000, they’d be auctioned today for Ferrari GTO money.”
James Elliott, Classic & Sports Car magazine group editor, said: “The E-type has it all, looks to stop traffic and a driving experience that has stood the test of time. When it was new you could not have bought more style and performance for the price. It is a car that continues to seduce young and old and is a very worthy winner. It’s very fitting that a great British brand like Autoglym has been so closely involved with celebrating our country’s iconic motoring heritage and I hope visitors to Alexandra Palace enjoy this display as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together.”
John Edwards, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: “This a fantastic accolade for one of Jaguar’s most recognisable models ever built. Jaguar’s Heritage business aims to support loyal and passionate customers so that models such as the E-type can continue to be maintained and enjoyed across the generations. The fact that it has captured the most votes in a global public vote is a testament to its status as one of the world’s most iconic sportscars and now, officially, as the Best British Car Ever.”
Classic & Sports Car – The London Show features more than 300 of the world’s most prestigious classic cars from world-famous collectors and world-renowned classic car retailers. Organised by Classic & Sports Car, the world’s best-selling classic car magazine, The London Show includes a celebration of Aston Martin in partnership with EFG International, an exhibition of Sir Stirling Moss’ most iconic single-seater competition cars and a star-studded Interview Stage featuring Ross Brawn OBE, Ant Anstead and David Brabham among a host of other celebrity guests from the world of motoring and motorsport.
Visit www.classicandsportscarshow.com for more information. Tickets for Classic & Sports Car – The London Show are still available on the door.
So there you have it, a process that took many experts a considerable length of time and we finally have the answer. But now there is an even more important question to answer and one that you can all help with and that is, “do you agree?” Let MotorMartin know your thoughts on this. Did Classic & Sports Car Magazine get it right?
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