The UK has a rich automotive history, and for over a century, our engineers and inventors have been responsible for innovations which have ultimately helped shape the world’s motor industry. Our most iconic manufacturers are recognised across the globe, with Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Jaguar being amongst the most prestigious.
But let’s turn our attention for a moment to the humbler British cars - ones which might not get as much screen time in James Bond films, for example, but are a much more common sight on everyday British roads. (They’re firm staples in our online vehicle auctions too here at RAW2K!) So in no particular order, we present to you five of the best British-made cars from the last few decades.
The Vauxhall Astra is unquestionably one of the UK’s class-leading hatchbacks, and it’s been consistently included in British top-seller lists for decades, ever since its first debut in 1979. Still built at Vauxhall’s factory in Ellesmere Port, today it’s one of the most enduring nameplates in UK car production.
There’s more to the car than just its history though - it’s famously economical and good value for money, with a spacious 370-litre boot, and on top of that it’s great fun to drive. Its smart exterior look complements its well-equipped interior, with intuitive touchscreen infotainment systems. Plus, research published in the Telegraph a few years ago indicated that women were most attracted to men who drove Astras. So there’s that.
The Toyota Auris is close rival of the Vauxhall Astra in the family hatchback department. It’s spacious and well-built, with a handy 360-litre and plenty of room inside for four people. It also has a reputation for being reliable, which is obviously a big deal if you’re looking for an all-purpose vehicle which can handle the rigours of everyday family life.
The average Toyota Auris also comes with a decent range of interior equipment and features right off the bat, and buyers can choose from several versions, including a hybrid for more environmentally-conscious consumers, or those who live in big cities, where Clean Air Zones are going to become increasingly common over the next few years.
The Honda Civic might not be the one that gets everyone’s pulse pounding, but there’s no doubting its reputation as a solid, dependable family vehicle. It’s been built in the UK since 1994, and its efficiency is one of the main draws for buyers. The fuel economy is almost second to none, helping you save noticeable amounts of money at the pump, and if you’re making regular journeys in it for school runs and commutes, those savings quickly start to add up. When you start to factor in its exceedingly comfortable ride quality and decent boot space, and it’s not hard to see why the Honda Civic has earned such enduring and widespread popularity over the years.
Comfortable and agile, the Nissan Qashqai already occupies a particularly special place in history - it’s the car that single-handedly kickstarted the SUV boom back in 2007. Designed, engineered and constructed entirely in the UK, it’s captured the hearts and minds of parents in particular, as it ranks highly in the safety department - having earned its 5-star EURO NCAP rating. It also offers plenty of storage, and the reasonably-priced servicing serves as the cherry on the cake by making it even more economical to run.
Without a doubt one of the most iconic British cars ever made - and with competition from the likes of Rolls Royce and Jaguar, that’s quite a feat! First made fashionable by being the car of choice for celebrities and racing drivers back in the day, the Mini has since been featured in countless films, with influential flicks like The Italian Job having cemented its place in British culture.
Now, impressive as they are, the Mini’s cultural credentials alone wouldn’t always be enough to sway the average buyer - so it’s just as well that its striking looks and silhouette are complemented by plenty under the bonnet, too. Its excellent driving dynamics are enhanced by a sophisticated rear suspension system that means it always feels neatly planted on the ground. If you’ll forgive us invoking another British icon, it’s also got a bit of a Doctor Who bigger-on-the-inside feel to it too, with plenty of storage space at 211 litres - more than you’d think at first glance!
We’ve got great deals on all these vehicles and more here at RAW2K, with excellent prices on used, seized and salvage cars from the most prestigious British manufacturers, as well as other European marques from the likes of Mercedes, Audi and Peugeot. Plus, our auctions are refreshed on a daily and weekly basis. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?