To celebrate the Olympics and Paralympics gracing our battered and rather car-loving shores with their presence, the London 2012 team have come up with a rich Cultural Olympiad to highlight the legacy and history of our proud island nation. This got the Carhoots team thinking about British cars and their relationship with that most British of concepts: heritage. So with all eyes on the UK, we take a trip down memory lane to look at some of the cars that have shaped our culture in irrevocable ways.
It would be a faulted list indeed of UK-produced cars if we ignored the DeLorean, the 80s wonder-vehicle made famous by the Back to the Future trilogy. Made in Northern Ireland until the company’s dissolution, the car may be iconic but its appearance on our screens screams stars and stripes rather than Pimms and bowler hats. So without further ado, stay with us as we dole out the medals for the cars that pay greatest homage to our industrial past, mirroring the rich tapestry of this bizarre mix of countries we like to call home.
Bronze: Land Rover
A staunch contender with the Yummy Mummy set, the Land Rover has shifted focus in recent times but remains firmly rooted in a sense of British heritage and identity. Harking back to a more idyllic, bucolic Britain, the Land Rover is ready for all terrains and that’s what excites us. As at home on a city street as on a country estate, the Land Rover represents all of Britain’s demographics. With every model a fine piece of machinery, the Land Rover is as much a part of our cultural landscape as laverbread or tatty scones.
Silver: Aston Martin
As iconic as James Bond (see our article on top 5 iconic cars from films here), the Aston Martin has always had a special space in the British psyche. If one won awards for elegance alone, the Aston Martin would be our uncontested winner. Each release an example of engineering ingenuity, the Aston Martin just misses out on the top spot but as they say, all that glitters is not gold. Exuberance and a refined decadence go hand-in-hand to make the Aston Martin (see its 2012 release here) an untouchable icon of its time.
Gold: Mini Cooper
There were some strong contenders but we couldn’t ignore the Mini Cooper’s grasp on what many view as the UK’s coolest (and therefore most important) period: the swinging 60s. Slick yet powerful, curvaceous yet joyously boxy, there is a reason the classic Cooper came tops on our list. The Cooper seems to mingle that most British of traits, eccentricity, with what we long to be remembered for, being the once-cultural powerhouse of the world. Perhaps most telling in the history of this British icon, then, is the passing of the torch into foreign hands with Mini’s repeated acquisitions and eventual discontinuation in its classical formar. No worries, though, as the car remains a firm favourite in our collective minds as representing an altogether more fun Britain. The charmingly bereft-of-features car brings something different to the yard: a harking back to our cool-as-a-cucumber past.
So do you agree with our decisions? There are so many strong British automotive icons that it was a task in itself to whittle them down to a three-tiered list. Not quite as big a task as a triathlon, of course, but spare a thought (and a minute) and let us know if you agree with our list. Tata for now!