Hooniverse Asks- What’s the Best Car Built in Great Britain today?

Great Britain once had an enviable automotive industry. So much so in fact that the Japanese, seeking to crawl their way back from economic collapse after WWII copied many aspects of British cars, resulting in many parts made in Japan being interchangeable with their British sources. The Brits also produced some of the most engaging and lust-worthy cars of the past century.
That’s not so much the case any more. In fact I saw an episode of Top Gear a few years back where the three hosts toured the sites where British auto manufacturers used to generate national pride. Now however, the former sites of MG, Triumph, TVR and others are either empty, or have been turned into business parks. When Ford first sought to expand beyond the Americas, Great Britain was their first destination, and in fact Ford GB created its own persona in England. Today, it too is but a shell of its past glories.
That goes the same for pretty much every car maker in Great Britain today, most of whom – save for Morgan and McLaren – are not even British owned. Not only that but great names like Austin and MG have gone the way of British imperialism. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any cars built in Jolly Olde any more, and in fact, probably due to foreign ownership, marques like Bentley, Rolls Royce, and Mini thrive today like no time before. But do any of them rank as the best car to presently come out of Britain? What do you think, what car – or truck – should rightfully hold that title?
Image: DigitalPosterCollection

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  1. quattrovalvole Avatar

    Anything that comes out from McLaren is pure, distilled engineering brilliance (and a bit of black magic)
    <img src="http://media.caranddriver.com/images/14q1/562747/2014-mclaren-p1-test-review-car-and-driver-photo-580034-s-original.jpg&quot; width="500">

    1. Rover_1 Avatar

      And the ONLY British designed car, made in Britain by a British Company using British Parts.

  2. Vavon Avatar

    Without a doubt: the Ariel Atom!
    <img src="http://www.moniteurautomobile.be/logos/MOD_3150/3150_1.jpg"&gt;

  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    <img src="https://carliterature.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/2014-3-0-litre-v6-supercharged-petrol-340ps-jaguar-f-type-coupe-road-test-review-blogger-photo-gallery-10.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    Since McLaren is taken, and seriously their cars are amazeballz. I'll take the lower rung, but still extremely impressive. The F-Type is incredible, specifically the Supercharged V6 coupe version. It has the potential of being the British Corvette. Which may sound like an insult to You-Rope-Eons, but when you think of the symbolic position of the Corvette to US car enthusiasts, it makes sense. In Euro talk, let's say the British 911.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I'll say you took that corner with screeming tires… 😉

  4. Kiefmo Avatar

    Because the backbone of the motoring industry cannot be small volume, it's got to be supported by something cheap and produced by the hundreds of thousands.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Honda_Civic_2.2_i-DTEC_%28front_quarter%29.jpg&quot; width="700px">

  5. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I'll take a small company continuing on in the traditions of the past. Do I say Caterham or Morgan though?

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      Better: AC
      Difficulty, not actually built in the UK ::sad panda::

    2. geistkoenig Avatar

      Best fit for your description is definitely Morgan. (I mean, sliding-pillar suspension?)

  6. dukeisduke Avatar

    I know I'm probably insane, but I like the Austin Marina.

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      I've wanted one every since I found out about the Marina in the 80's.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        And the Chrysler 180.

    2. Kiefmo Avatar

      Never been there, but it does look mighty purty:

  7. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://image.automotive.com/f/jaguar-xjl-2014-road-test/61830031/2014-jaguar-xjr-l-passenger-front-three-quartersjpg.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    One day…
    I dunno, these just hit me so right – they look great, they're supposed to be fantastic to drive, the interior is nice, and suitably cozy, but not cramped.

    1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
      PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

      They are fantastic to drive. I really enjoyed it. I would be scared to own it long-term, but If I could afford to buy, I can afford to keep it.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        I'm slightly biased because I've only experienced one terrible older Jag (a neglected X-Type), and the rest have been in rather decent shape when I've seen them, but then basically all the ones I see are either just off lease, or at a Jaguar specialist.
        I just tell myself it's no worse than any other high-end European car, and accept it's not an option until I can have a car that I don't need to run every day, let alone can sit for weeks on end.

    2. quattrovalvole Avatar

      Oh man I've only been inside one in the auto show but it just feels right. If I have the money, the rational side of me will go for an S-class because objectively, it's the best damn car in the class. But the emotional side of me will always wants a dark blue XJR because it's a Jaaaaaaagg

  8. karonetwentyc Avatar

    The new Jaguars are nice, but there really is only one correct answer to the question:
    <img src="https://i.imgur.com/mZorvcc.jpg&quot; width=500>

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      Morgan is absolutely the most British.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        Well, that's not even a car, is it? Bike engine, bike wheels/tires, bike safety. It's a bike!
        That said, it's an awesome one I'd love to own, and it certainly seems quintessentially British.

        1. karonetwentyc Avatar

          I will fully admit that I am stretching the definition of a car somewhat with the choice of the Three-Wheeler, but I'd argue that it's more car than bike due to the two-abreast seating. Pretty much every motorcycle out there is capable of holding a passenger, but I'm not aware of one that can do it in this configuration, though I think there may have been a handful of gyroscopically-stabilised ones that played with the idea over the years.
          That said, only Morgan could really do this right – there are other trikes out there, but I'm in the same boat as you are with regard to desirability of ownership.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Regardless of how many wheels it has, my rule is if you steer with a wheel, shift with your hand and clutch with your foot, it's a car. This one has seat belts, even.

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            That rule is dangerously close to making my Freeway a three-wheeled car, were it not so shiftless.

          3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Yeah, face it — it's SOOO a car.

          4. mdharrell Avatar

            I'll see if I can do better with my latest purchase; it should arrive in about a week.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      <img src="http://deutscheoptik.com/images/products/4222.jpg&quot; width=300 /img>
      I already own a pair of split-lens goggles, I just need a billowy scarf and a leather skull cap, and I'm set for Moggie ownership.
      Casual alcoholism might help though.

  9. crank_case Avatar

    There's so many specialist sports cars to pick from, but I'm gonna go with the Ginetta G40R as the most hoonworthy
    <img src="http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01970/ginetta-g40r_1970769c.jpg&quot; width="600">
    MX5/Ford mechanicals, practical enough that you can enjoy it the rainy climate of the British Isles unlike the masochism of an Atom or Seven and 175bhp up to propel 795KG. It fills the gap left when the Lotus Exige went upmarket and V6.
    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiqFGZuKtXU” target=”_blank”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiqFGZuKtXU

    1. Alff Avatar

      Great call. I've always been fascinated by Ginetta.

  10. geistkoenig Avatar

    I miss Lotus, so picking an Exige S should make the longing all that much more acute.
    <img src="http://www.lotuscars.com/sites/default/files/image_store/23039_Exige-S-Roadster-Carbon-Grey_4_1024x671.jpg&quot; width="720">

  11. Sjalabais Avatar

    Not the best answer (Morgan!), but worth to be on the list: Noble. It's the simple and down-to-earth approach to supercars. Plus: Volvo conncetion. Oh yes.
    <img src="http://fastestlaps.com/photos/_Noble_M6004a8ba41de09c3.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Since my square life has little to no room for a car like that, I'll throw in this one with some enthusiasm (yes, they're awesome in real life):
    <img src="http://www.highsnobiety.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/jaguar-xf-sportbrake.jpeg&quot; width="600">

  12. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    <img src="http://www.farm-equipment.com/wysiwyg/images/EWatch/2012_07_24/3230_Xtra_2012_2.jpg&quot; width="500/">
    Nope, not a car or a truck, but the JCB Fastrac is one of the most awesome vehicles being built anywhere in the known universe, and I'm thrilled that it's British. I'd love JCB to do a Sport Utility version. Maybe that's one for the product clinics.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      My two year old has one of those. Aptly sized to climb any sofa gradient with ease.

  13. Rover_1 Avatar

    All of the cars in the lead image were made in Britain, mainly in England, by British owned companies,( or a company), using engines and transmissions designed and made in Britain and fitted to bodies and chassis also designed and made in Britain using steel, alloys, plastics, rubber and glass made in Britain as well.
    This is no longer the case.
    With two and a bit exceptions.
    McLaren,the only entirely British designed & made car by a British owned company, and JCB.
    The Morgan 4/4, with it's Japanese made, Mazda transmission and Ford supplied, UK made 4 cylinder engine is the bit. Other Morgans have German,(BMW V8) or American,(S&S V-twin, Ford V6) and German (ZF) transmissions.Alloy for the newer Aero chassis is from Denmark.
    But Morgan remains the largest British owned car company and apart from it's transmission the 4/4 is close to being solely UK owned, designed and made.
    Lotus is owned by a Malaysian company and makes cars from Danish alloy extrusions, Japanese powertrains, (Toyota 4s & V6s) but they do have a very big design operation, as do the similarly overseas owned Ricardo or Cosworth design consultancies.
    Caterham owned by Malaysians use British engines and Japanese transmissions in British chassis.
    Ariel use Japanese engine/transmissions,(Honda) as do Ginetta,(Mazda).
    Jaguar LandRover are owned by the Indian Tata group but make all of their engines in the UK apart from the Mexican-made V8 diesels. All bodies/chassis are made in Britain. Transmissions are German,(ZF). But all design is in Britain.
    Aston Martin, owned by a Kuwaiti company, are designed and made in UK from Danish supplied alloy extrusions and British composites. All engines, based on Ford designs, V8 and V12 are made in Cologne, Germany and imported.
    Bentley owned by the Volkswagen group make one model, the Mulsanne, using body parts pressed in the UK. The OHV alloy V8 for this is also UK made.Transmissions are German (ZF).Design is partly British.
    All other Bentleys are assembled in the UK from pressings,extrusions and mechanical assemblies scourced from Germany, although assembly of the W12 engines is completed in the UK from German supplied parts.
    ALL other vehicles made in the UK use this model of assembly from imported pre-manufactured parts imported from overseas.
    This includes Rolls Royce,(owned by BMW, engines, transmissions and bodies from Germany), Nissan, (Japan and France), Toyota and Honda,(Japan), GM Vauxhall,( most vehicles imported complete from Germany, Belgium,Spain, Australia. Some assembly using imported pressings and motors sourced from elsewhere in the GM empire.)
    Ford which had a full British subsidiary, Ford UK until 1950 no longer make ANY vehicles in Britain at all. All vehicles are imported fully built up, but many engines are still made in Britain and exported, to be re-imported in the finished vehicle.
    BMW's other British subsidiary, Mini, also assembles cars in the UK, but many parts including pressings and engines are made there. Many engines are also made in the UK and exported. Occasionally some models are fully assembled overseas and imported fully built up. The design is also largely British.
    The other great British brand, MG,(all that is left of the BMC/AustinRover part of Leyland) is now Chinese owned and all assembly is of parts from China. Much design is still British however and many mechanical bits are from tooling that was originally in Britain.
    To some people, this may seem like a pedantic difference, but it is not.
    VW Beetles are not described as Mexican cars,although they are all made there. Camaros are not described as Canadian. BMW X-series, or Hondas or Nissans or Mercedes Benzes or Volkswagens that are made in the USA from imported parts are not described as American.
    And Airbus airliners are not described as French, but European, even though all final assembly is in Toulouse, France.
    Assembling cars designed overseas and using all parts imported, is only assembly in the same way that Malta or New Zealand used to have car assembly, but not manufacture. And as Australia and Britain have found out, if you don't own the companies in your own country, continued manufacture of anything is not guaranteed.
    The history of British manufacture of many things, including cars, is a sad one but is none-the-less a true history of management incompetence and short-sighted investment decisions from one of the largest money sources in the world, London.

    1. karonetwentyc Avatar

      You bring up a very good point, and as the person who nominated the current Morgan Three-Wheeler, one that I'd like to address. The specific quote I'm referring to:
      "The Morgan 4/4, with it's Japanese made, Mazda transmission and Ford supplied, UK made 4 cylinder engine is the bit. Other Morgans have German,(BMW V8) or American,(S&S V-twin, Ford V6) and German (ZF) transmissions.Alloy for the newer Aero chassis is from Denmark. "
      There is an anecdotal (but correct) historical parallel that Morgan shares with Jeep: 'Jeep' is said to stand for 'Just Everyone Else's Parts'. In a way, this is true: bodies, suspension, and various other bits have been manufactured by whomever owned Jeep on a given day, but drivetrains were often provided by outside companies. However, the vehicles that Jeep built were undeniably their own.
      In Morgan's case, they've followed essentially the same path. Morgan has never built its own engine or gearbox, relying instead on JAP, Matchless, Triumph, Ford (of Britain), Fiat, Rover (and, by association, American GM), BMW, and others at various times to provide the motive bits – but the cars themselves were always Morgans.
      That aside, given that the original question was, "What's the best car built in Britain today?", I'll stick with the Morgan Three-Wheeler even if it is moved by a Harley-Davidson V-Twin. There's historic precedent for this, and entirely appropriately so for a Morgan.
      By the way, I am in agreement with you on the remainder of the points you raise, and think that they're dead-on. If I had to pick a significant British car of the last 30-ish years, it would be the Peugeot 205, built at the Ryton plant and found everywhere in RHD Europe; a few years prior to that, the choice would have been the Morris Minor.

  14. Maymar Avatar

    <img src="http://accessories.jaguar.com/catalog-assets/jaguar/c2d14681.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>
    But, some modern Jags have this badge on the inside – how could they not be extremely British! They wouldn't lie to us for the sake of image, what corporation could possibly do that!
    No, yes, you raise an entirely valid point, although I'd submit that if the vehicle is designed in a certain country, by a company with its primary headquarters in that country, it's reasonable to call it a vehicle of that country. We don't think of, say, the Chrysler 300 as Italian, any more than we think of it as Canadian. Lamborghini is still accepted as an Italian company, even with Sie Deutsche overlords (and plenty of Audi influence in the engineering). It gets a little fuzzy. Although, it absolutely is a shame to see how the UK gave up on their auto industry.