Britain has produced some of the most famous motor vehicles ever made including the Rolls Royce Corniche, Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB5. British drivers have a real passion for these stylish, sophisticated, and powerful vehicles! We also have a soft spot for cabriolets, as they help us make the most of the sunny weather.
This article will take a closer look at some of the classic cabriolets that have made Britain great. They are classic vehicles that combine practicality with style and raw horsepower. Let’s check them out!
Built between 1961 and 1975, the Jaguar E-Type is one of the most widely recognised sports cars on the planet! It is considered an icon in the motoring world and it has become a prized collectible.
Jaguar first revealed the E-type at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. It was the highlight of the show — combining Malcolm Sayer’s incredible aerodynamic design with Sir William Lyon’s interior styling. Its sleek and sophisticated style made it a smash hit with car enthusiasts.
The first E-Type released had a thumping 265bhp 3.8-litre engine with a four-speed manual gearbox. Jaguar claimed this monster engine could propel the E-Type at up to 150 miles per hour. The list price was £2097 for the Roadster and £2196 for the Coupe, which was much cheaper than similar cars at the time. It became one of Jaguar’s most popular vehicles and was famously called “the most beautiful car ever made” by Enzo Ferrari. It is a highly sought-after vehicle with some rare E-Types selling for millions of pounds!
The Rolls-Royce Corniche is often cited as “the car that saved Rolls-Royce”. When it was first released in 1971, the company was struggling financially and close to being liquidated. Thankfully, the Corniche was incredibly successful and helped Rolls-Royce stay afloat!
The Corniche was released as a 2-door coupé and convertible with a 6.75 L L410 OHV V8 powertrain. It combined raw horsepower with a sophisticated body shape and luxurious features. The Corniche was based upon the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and was marketed as a variant of this vehicle from 1966 until 1971. It remained in production until 1987, making it one of Rolls Royce’s most successful vehicles.
The Corniche appealed to drivers looking for a glamorous and sporty vehicle with plenty of power. Unlike other vehicles produced by Rolls-Royce, the Corniche was not “pompous”. It was more approachable and fun to drive while retaining that high level of sophistication that Rolls-Royce is known for.
The cabriolet variant had frameless windows, which enhanced its appearance when the electric folding roof was lowered. A truly beautiful car that has become a prized collectible.
Aston Martin DB5
The Aston Martin DB5 is a classic British convertible that is often described as “the most famous car in the world”. One of the reasons for its fame is an appearance in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. (Check out the video of Bond successfully launching a villain through the sunroof)
Even if you don’t have any bad guys you want removed in a hurry, you would still enjoy your time in the DB5. With a sporty body shape and a high-powered, all-aluminium engine 4-litre engine, it is an incredibly fun car to drive. The interior of the vehicle is luxurious, with wool pile carpets, electric windows, reclining seats, and full leather trim.
The only downside to the DB5 is the price tag. Expect to pay anywhere between £250k and £3 million for one!
Perfect for Marine Biologists and secret agents alike, the Lotus Espirit is another famous British Car that was driven by 007. It was used in the 1962 film, The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond drives the Esprit off a pier into the ocean, with the car transforming into a rocket-launching submarine!
It is a sporty 2-door coupe that was produced by Lotus between 1976 and 2005. Its angular polygonal body shape was an immediate hit with sports car enthusiasts and collectors.
The most famous model was the Esprit S1 used by James Bond in the film. It was equipped with rockets, mines, and black dye to blind pursuing vehicles. When submerged, the wheel arches turn into fins and a periscope could be pushed through the roof!
The James Bond model was a hard top only. We can only imagine the water ingress issues that would have occurred if it was a soft top convertible!
British Triumph Stag
The Triumph Stag is a luxurious 2-door sports tourer released in 1970. It was designed by the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti and engineered by Brits — which resulted in a reliable, high-performance vehicle with style.
The Stag was available for around £2,000 in 1970, which was quite affordable at the time and made it a very popular vehicle. The 2-litre, V8 engine has some serious horsepower, while the interior of the car is quite refined and stylish. It remains a popular car for collectors and there are many Stag collectors clubs across the UK.
The MGB is the quintessential British sports car — reliable, sporty and fun! Launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1962, the MGB quickly became a popular vehicle with British drivers. With a racing pedigree and stylish exterior, it was considered a “flash car for the masses”. Today, the MGB is still immensely popular and there are a number of owners clubs in the UK.
It was first released as a four-cylinder, soft-top roadster with later variants including a three-door coupé (1965–80), six-cylinder roadster, and coupé MGC (1967–69). It sold more than half a million vehicles worldwide and they are still a common sight on British roads!
Austin Healy 100
Released in 1953, the Austin Healy 100 was one of the fastest cars to drive on UK roads! It featured a curvaceous body styled by Gerry Coker and a sturdy chassis designed by Barry Bilbie. The long wheelbase and large engine bay give the Austin Healy 100 the appearance of a race car ready to hit the track. The 3-litre engine 3-speed engine was certainly capable of blowing your hair back, with a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h).
Later revisions included a 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive on the top two gears. The Austin Healy 100-6 had an even longer wheelbase and a 2+2 configuration. This vehicle eventually morphed into the Austin-Healy 3000 in 1959, which was one of the most popular Austin-Healy’s ever made!
They remain very popular today because they are one of the few collectible cars that are still affordable. You can snatch up an Austin Healy 100 or 3000 for as little as £50,000 with the rarer models reaching up to £200,000.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the cars that made Britain great!
If you see any of these classic cabriolets on the road, be sure to give the owners a thumbs up!
Cayman Auto Services is the leading provider of convertible roof repairs in the United Kingdom. If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us today on 01737 761599