Older British Cars

…that I’d like to own.  But only under the following Terms & Conditions.

Ever wish that you could get an old British car, but manufactured with modern processes like proper (i.e. non-Lucas) electrical wiring, proper (i.e. non-British Leyland) corrosion resistance and so on?  In other words, get a car that wouldn’t rust to shreds after the first rainstorm and whose lights, radio and windshield wipers could operate simultaneously?

My, how those choices would open up.  Yes, I know:  E-type, Lotus Esprit, XK120, etc. etc.  But everyone knows those cars, everyone would love to have one, and so on.  What about those that aren’t as well known?

Here are my Top 6 in this category (in no specific order) and as a bonus, in each title there’s a link to see why it’s there.  [warning:  watching all the videos makes this post a very long read, but it’s the weekend, FFS]

Lotus Carlton

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Rover 3500 SD1

(Of all these cars, the 3500 would be the one most in need of modernized manufacturing, as the linked video will explain.  But I need a larger car, and this one fits the bill admirably.)

Austin Mini-Cooper 1275 S 

(Best comment is in the above:  “Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, James Garner… these guys all knew cars, and they could drive anything they wanted.  All three drove a Mini.” )  I’m not as famous, and I don’t know as much about cars;  but I too would drive a Mini:  this Mini.  Right now, if I could.

Triumph TR4A

By the way, you can see the TR4 and two other of my favorites of the era, the MGB GT and the Austin Healey 3000, here.

Finally, my last choice is an interesting one.  And it’s ugly.

Daimler SP250

I actually know the SP250 reasonable well, because back when Longtime Friend Knob was still Drummer Knob, this was the car he owned when first I met him.  And he could actually fit his drum kit in the thing, as long as he didn’t want to carry a groupie his girlfriend as well.

As ugly as that car was, though, I loved it — most of all because of that fantastic 2.5-liter V8 Daimler engine, which sounded wonderful and had enough torque to pull a house off its foundations.

But exercising my prerogative (because once again, it’s my list), I would want a Daimler that wouldn’t make me think of a surprised cod each time I walked into the garage.  Step forward, the later 1967 Daimler SP252 with its Vignale-styled body:

Same engine (as reworked by Jay Leno), same everything except a beautiful body.

I’m sorry, but that SP252 makes my heart go all squonky, like if I were to find Diana Rigg in its passenger seat.

If only…


Seven, if you include Miss Rigg.

Classic British lines, every single one of them.

Follow up:  Knob reminds me that he sold the Daimler to a buddy, who whipped the engine out, trashed the Daimler chassis in its entirety, and dropped the V8 into a Morgan.


  1. That Cozzie picture takes me back. The first real rally car I ever laid eyes on was back in 1970 or so. My buddy and I went to Gene Henderson’s shop in Dearborn to pick up some piece of beginner rally equipment (Curta Calculator?) and the great man showed us his latest project … a brand new white English import Cosworth. If I recall correctly it had the full-on twin cam engine and was RHD. Very impressive to a couple of teenage rally wannabes. Again IIRC, he flipped the thing on its lid and destroyed in its first outing. A year or two later Gene won the Press-On-Regardless when it was an FIA WRC event … that would have been ’72, I think. He did it in a Jeep Wagoneer. More here … https://www.scca.com/pages/gene-henderson
    I also have fond memories from high school about Mrs. Peel, but those I’ll keep to myself.

  2. The Mini for me, I had the pleasure of driving one belonging to a friend in 69 if I recall properly and the only reasons I did not buy one where A money a bit scarce a the time and B my friend car spend a lot of time in the mecanic hands.

  3. Here’s another example for you to consider. Late 50’s Early 60’s Turner.
    One would frequently show up at SCCA races at Watkins Glen in the 60’s and completely dominate it’s class, particularly when entered in the support races for the 6 hour race.

    Owned a TR4 ( non IRS A ) in the period, it was a great car until I crashed it in a heavy rainstorm when what passed for wipers hung up on the windscreen frame and stopped “working”.

    Have you tried on a Mini or a Lotus Esprit? Even at my high school size they were a tight fit.

    ….. and what young male was not infatuated with Mrs. Peel?

  4. Older Mini’s are sporty little beasties. Put a dozen or more on a nice track and you can have some enjoyable racing,

    Many moons ago a friend had a Triumph Herald convertible. It wasn’t fast, handled alright but I do remember it brought a smile to my face every time I had a chance to drive or ride in it. Just looked at the prices and they are reasonable for a sunny Sunday vehicle.


  5. In ’65, back in college after a stint of Service, I spent the Summer in sales at a BMC/Lotus dealership located in the Greater Los Angeles area owned by a friend who had sold my Dad an 850 Mini in ’59, that I had spent a lot of miles behind the wheel of. He was a SCCA racer who had a good history in both HP and CP. Of all the cars on the lot, the 1275S was the most fun to drive on the roads in and out of the hills ringing the area, though I did have a particular fondness for a late RHD Lotus Elite.

  6. To hell with the cars. Just give me 15 minutes in bed with Mrs Peel.

    Ok, then, being realistic, 3.5 minutes. God, she was beautiful.

    1. Diana Rigg was my first long distance crush, followed by Yvonne Craig.

  7. McQueen, Garner, Newman? Please. Mr. Bean drove a mini. That’s good enough for me.

    (I hear Rowan Atkinson knows a bit about cars too.)

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