You may well remember a few of these golden oldies. We certainly do here at RAW2K - having been the UK's premier online car auction website for the trade and public for many years, we stock thousands of used, salvage and seized vehicles for sale in our daily and weekly online car auctions to suit all needs, and so we’ve seen a lot of models come and go.
As well as some fantastic international imports like Peugeot and Mercedes, we also supply cars from amazing, heritage British brands like Vauxhall and Land Rover. These are far from the only British car brands to have captured the hearts of the nation, so here are some of the fallen giants of yesteryear that are rarely seen on our roads anymore.
Sunbeam - Talbot: record breakers
The Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was first brought to life in 1905 and enjoyed a fair amount of success during its time on the market. Sunbeam manufactured its own aero engines during the first World War, and this interest led it into the pursuit of Grand Prix racing and attempted land speed records.
The company had its greatest period in the 1920s, boasting well-engineered, high quality, reliable cars, as well as a great reputation on the track. Sunbeam Grand Prix cars took home wins at both the French and Spanish GPs in 1923/4, and set two land speed records during its golden years.
Sunbeam faded into obscurity in the time that followed, until it was taken over by the Rootes brothers in 1935, where they chose to add the Sunbeam name to the Talbot range. Thereafter, the Sunbeam name continued to appear as the marque name on new cars until 1976, until it was relegated to the model name for the Chrysler Sunbeam from 1977 to 1979. The Sunbeam model was discontinued in 1981.
Morris - Britain’s first 1 million sold cars
Morris burst onto the scene in 1913 with the Bullnose. This beauty came into market just before the first World War, and rapidly rose to prominence, winning over half of the UK market. The success didn’t stop there though for Morris - some years later, the company released the exquisite Morris Eight thanks to the contributions of designer Leonard Lord in 1934, and the vehicle gradually took over the position as the best-selling small car in Britain.
Morris followed up this success in 1948 with the Morris Minor, which became the first British car to sell over 1 million models. Unfortunately, the good times didn’t continue for too long after after, as Lord and Morris had a falling out which led to Lord returning to arch-rival automotive company, Austin. However, the feud didn’t last long, as the companies were merged in 1952, combining to create British Leyland. Its last car, the Marina, was released in 1983 to an underwhelming reception, with many people complaining that the car was severely under-engineered. Not the best ending for this once-great automotive company!
Jensen - budget sports car royalty
Jensen was a true British sports car superpower in its heyday, and its American-powered GTs achieved much in their long history.
Highlights for Jensen included the Interceptor, which was released in 1966 and fairly expensive for the time at around £2,800, but this was pittance when compared to the similarly designed E-Type Jaguar. The budget sports car proved a hit with buyers with its 6.3 litre fuel tank and 140mph top speed, and the company thrived for many years after its release. Ultimately though, it ceased trading in in 1976 after hard times brought on by the world-wide recession.
Jensen was briefly revived just before the turn of the millennium by an engineering company that was believed to be in a strong position to produce the car, but it officially went into administration in 2002 after issues with manufacturing.
Nowadays, people buy Jensen cars to store them as artefacts in collections - the vehicles can be found for prices ranging from £30,000 all the way up to £75,000 depending on the model.
Austin - a legacy to be proud of
If you were looking for a great family car in 1922, Austin was the way to go. The Austin Seve was a landmark design that shook up the British automotive industry. Not just a stunner to look at, the affordable, cheerful little car was also the blueprint from which the Mini was conceived.
The Austin brand finally kicked the bucket in 1988 after a whopping 83 year run. Its legacy is the main reason that it makes our list. The success of the Seve, and then the Mini, have collectively ensured that the influence of the company has been felt for generations since. In fact, the Mini has enjoyed a reputation for decades as an iconic British car, especially after its appearance in the legendary heist film The Italian Job. And for that, we raise a glass in appreciation of Austin.
Even though many of these classic car brands haven’t sold any new cars in decades, you can still stumble across them occasionally in classic car auctions - and even bid on them if you’re determined enough! If you’re in the market for something a bit newer or more practical though, you’re in exactly the right place. Here at RAW2K we supply a huge variety of cars, vans, motorcycles and scooters for sale regardless. So whether you’re just a hobbyist or a full time professional mechanic, why not take a look around, and see what you can find?