The history of the British automotive industry traces its roots in the late 19th century when automakers tried to make some new vehicles but relying on German and French advances in car manufacturing. However, by 1900 Herbert Austin introduced an entirely British four-wheel car. His company – Wolseley Motors Limited – has actually become the largest car manufacturer in the UK. And other car producers took up the initiative opening the automotive era for Great Britain.
By 1922 the country estimated 183 automakers and in 1930-s it even outbid France to become the largest car manufacturer in Europe. It worth saying that till the 1950-s the UK held the second position in car production in the whole world giving way only to the United States. The British carmakers proved to be on the alert after the World War II as the demand for cars and vehicles in foreign countries has increased to great extent and Great Britain reached the top as the world’s biggest exporter.
But the country’s automotive industry began to lose ground soon. The German car production was in its sharpest and it finally captured the British market. Since the 1980s some foreign counterparts as Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Volvo and Fiat advanced their interests in Britain and the others like BMW, Volkswagen, SAIC and TATA acquired many British car brands, Rolls-Royce, Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley are to name the few.
Major British Car Manufacturers
Nevertheless, the UK is currently one of the leading powers in engine producing. It is also integral to and indispensably associated with car racing and motorsport industry. And though Britain has dropped to only 14-th place in the world’s motor vehicle production the British cars are still highly favored and adored worldwide.
Mini is a very stylish and trendy British car brand which has its admirers all over the world. The primary two-door Mini was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation since 1959 till 2000. It was initially sold under marques Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor, as Mini became an independent brand only in 1969. This small and elegant car proved to be the British icon of the 1960-s. Mini’s performance models got the name ‘Cooper’ in honor of the British racing idol John Cooper. Sport cars Mini Cooper S can boast of three Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
In 1994, the brand Mini was acquired by BMW. In 2001, the German company launched a new production line which includes such models as Mini Hatch/Hardtop, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Roadster and others.
Aston Martin, officially called Aston Martin Lagonda Limited, is a famous British car manufacturer which specializes in luxury sports cars and grand touring cars. It was established by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in 1913. But the name ‘Aston Martin’ was registered a year later after Lionel Martin had successfully raced a special car at Aston Hill Climb.
Aston Martin debuted on the international scene with two cars competing in prestigious French Grand Prix in 1922. Since then the marque secured its positions providing a wide range of top-tier sports cars. The business has sky-rocketed in 1947 when an English industrialist Sir David Brown acquired Aston Martin. In 1950-s the company began to produce elite touring cars and the brand won hearts of millions of people when DB5 model appeared on screens in James Bond sequel ‘Goldfinger’.
Throughout its history the company has often run into financial troubles and changed several owners. The British luxury car brand currently has several joint owners with Italian private equity fund Investindustrial as the main shareholder.
McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of high-performance cars founded in 1989 by Ron Dennis. It bears the name of legendary Bruce McLaren who devoted his life to car racing and building the fastest and the quickest accelerating cars in the world.
From the very beginning McLaren Automotive pursued the idea of creating the finest road car in the world. They finally achieved the target by introducing McLaren F1 in 1992. It became the world’s first road car with carbon chassis and could accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h just in 3 seconds.
Nowadays, McLaren Automotive is represented through a wide network of more than 50 dealerships in different countries. The brand has a high-class McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England.
Jaguar is a luxury car brand produced by Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar cars are on the roads since 1935, though the manufacturer itself – Swallow Sidecar Company – appeared much earlier, in 1922, and initially specialized in motorcycle sidecars.
In fact, the brand came to prominence after a series of sports cars which brilliantly performed in overseas competitions. In particular, Jaguar brand was crowned with success after five tremendous Le Mans 24 Hours victories in the 1950-s. However, the company has changed several owners throughout its history, including British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Ford. Since 2008, the marque belongs to the Indian company Tata Motors.
Jaguar is an elite and up-market British car company. And it comes as no surprise that it manufactured high-class models for the British Prime Minister and has the royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.
Bentley is a highly popular British car brand, and as it usually is in Britain – inseparably associated with luxury. This globally respected marque is produced by Bentley Motors Limited which in its turn is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG.
The company was founded in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley who set heart on creating a lightweight car bearing his name. In 1922, Bentley cars debuted in the Indianapolis 500 mile race. But they won international recognition with the 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1924 and another four consecutive wins from 1927 to 1930.
The Great Depression of 1929 forced Bentley Motors into financial troubles. However, the company regained feet after Rolls-Royce acquired its assets in 1931. Since 1998 Bentley Motors Ltd. is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG.
These days, the British carmaker covers a broad spectrum of the international market with China proved to be the largest trade area for Bentley cars. And it is of high prestige in the UK, as Bentley gifted an impressive official State Limousine to Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
Besides listed above there are also many other respectable car manufacturers in Great Britain: Ascari Cars, Lotus, MG, Morgan, Caparo, Vauxhall and others.