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Original Mini the greatest British car ever made?

No Aston Martins, Bentleys or Rolls-Royce make the top ten on Autocar's list

Published: September 1, 2012, 7:00 AM

Original Austin Mini

What's the greatest British production car ever made? Images of Blower Bentleys, Jaguar E-Types, custom-liveried Rolls-Royces or any number of Aston Martins may come to mind.

But not so, according to readers of the venerable British magazine, Autocar. They voted the original Mini as the greatest British car ever made.

The Austin Mini was launched in 1959 and achieved 5.4 million sales during its 41-year lifetime, but sales weren't the basis for its selection. It was lauded on the bases of beauty, function and value.

Perhaps even more surprising, the original Range Rover, from 1970, ranked second in the poll.

The Jaguar E-Type did make the podium, so to speak, but only in third place.

For a culture obsessed with its history, Autocar's readers didn't venture far into the past, or get too adventurous, in making their choices.

Their full top-ten list is as follows:

1. Mini

2. Range Rover

3. Jaguar E-Type

4. Land Rover

5. McLaren F1

6. Range Rover Evoque

7. Caterham 7

8. Morris Minor

9. McLaren MPF-12C

10. London Taxi

Autocar’s editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: "The Mini had many faults and was never profitable, but it rewrote the rules and had the biggest impact on Britain’s car industry that any car has had."

He added, "The Mini’s influence is highly visible in every VW Golf or Ford Focus today, and the legend will live forever."

The poll was conducted to coincide with the announcement that Britain’s car manufacturing output is set to eclipse its highest ever levels by 2015, thanks to massive investment from car makers in the country.

In total, more than two million cars are expected to be build in Britain in 2015, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) – more than the 1.92 million made in Britain’s car making heyday in 1970.

Britain’s revival as a car manufacturing force has been fuelled by the success of foreign car makers investing in manufacturing in the country. Jaguar, Land Rover, Honda, Mini, Nissan and Vauxhall (all foreign-owned) have announced significant investment in expanding their production facilities in the UK during 2012.

More than 80% of the 1.34 million cars built in the UK in 2011 were exported.