Widely seen as the first vehicle specifically designed to be driven by an internal combustion engine – so marking the starting point in automotive history.
Minerva Armoured Car
This Belgian-built vehicle was one of the first purpose-built armoured vehicles to be widely deployed in combat, blazing a trail for many to follow.
Can it really be that old? Still going strong today, and has a massive cult following thanks to its transition to film star in the ‘Herbie’ series.
Originally designed as personal transport for Edsel Ford, former president of the Ford Motor Company, the Continental evolved into a long-running brand which was set to be revived in 2017 after a 15-year break in the model line.
The A40 model name ran for two decades from its debut, and was another car to appear in several variants. But perhaps the best known is the Italian-designed Farina model, shown here, from the early 1960s.
Another enduring car, which stayed in production for just under 50 years. The company was considered to be the luxury vehicles arm of General Motors – and the Eldorado epitomised the brash, self-confident nature of the US motor industry in its heyday.
Otherwise almost universally known as the ‘London Taxi’, more than 75,000 were built during its 40-year lifespan. In 2011 and 2012 one model set new world records for the longest-ever taxi ride, and the highest altitude one has ever reached.
A 1960s icon. At a time when most mass-market cars had what can be most politely described as pedestrian performance, the E-Type brought racing car pedigree into the mainstream, with Daily Telegraph readers voting it the most beautiful car of all time.
As the world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano was created to tempt the masses of motorcyclists in India towards a safer, 4-wheeled form of transport. At around £1700, the Tata Nano also aimed to increase the country’s car manufacturing market.
Bentley Speed Six
Widely credited as one of the first true road-going racing cars, it’s said the owner of one of these once raced a train 570 miles across mainland Europe, just for a bet.
A single-car manufacturer for many years after the introduction of this, the Mercury Eight was touted as a more economical version of the classic big cars of the era. It was also one of the first cars available in a choice of two or four-door saloon or coupe variants.
Embodying Lotus company founder Colin Chapman’s vision of a light, fast sports car, the Lotus Seven was a route into off-road racing for many. It has spawned many imitators, and is still produced today by Caterham Cars, who bought the rights to the design.
The longest-running production model from this Swedish manufacturer, the Saab 96 earned worldwide recognition due to its rallying achievements, which saw Erik Carlsson drive it to a hat-trick of RAC Rally victories.
If ever there was a true classic American Sports Car, the Chevrolet Corvette is it. Unmistakable in its design, with curved wings exaggerated to impress and an engine to match, it’s still going strong today.
The ultimate lightweight racing machine, the Porsche 917 was built from components made of titanium and magnesium with a gear stick famously made of balsa wood. It worked, and enabled the 1970/71 Le Mans winner to reach speeds topping 224mph.
This competitively priced car was introduced to help Datsun move away from its image as a producer of economical small cars. With a 2.4 litre engine under a long hood, there’s no way that the Datsun 240Z could be accused of being anything but powerfully practical.
It was good enough for James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me and inspired a generation of petrol heads. The Lotus’ lightweight fibreglass body (less than 1,000kg) allowed for easy, if somewhat perspiration inducing, handling – just as any super spy would want.
Subaru Impreza WRX
Capable of speeds of up to 156mph, the Imprezza WRX is still one of the fastest cars ever made by Subaru. Success in the World Rally Championships has helped the the Impreza to become one of the most recognisable vehicles on our roads today.
Slotting in between its standard and luxury Lincoln models, Ford’s Deluxe model line was another which extended to a variety of body styles, including two- and four-door models, in coupe, van, convertible and pickup variants.
For many years, the Ford Zephyr was the standard police patrol car. However, it’s a misconception that the title of the police drama series Z-Cars comes from this car’s name. Rather, the ‘Z’ was the name given to the division of the police the series followed.
Aston Martin DB5
Proudly British-built, but with Italian design input, the DB5 is arguably the most easily-recognised ‘movie car’ of all time, thanks to it being kitted out with all kinds of gadgetry for use by ‘superspy’ James Bond in the film Goldfinger.
The first car to combine four-wheel drive with a turbo engine, the Quattro won rally competition after rally competition. The car of choice of unlikely sex symbol, Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes, the Quattro will forever be the epitome of cool.
The only car made by the DeLorean Motor Company, the DMC-12 boasted a fibreglass chassis and, most distinctively, gullwing doors. The addition of the fictional ‘flux capacitor’ turned the car into the flying time machine in the Back to the Future trilogy.
Used as the original talking KITT car in Knight Rider, the 5 litre, fuel injection Pontiac Trans-Am was ‘modified’ to include Turbo Boost, full body armour, self-drive and a bonnet mounted scanner.
Ford Model T
The first car to enter mass production, and generally regarded as the start of the age of mass-mobility. With 16.5 million sold, as of 2012 it was the eighth biggest seller of all time.
Designed to be the next generation of military service vehicle after the Jeep, the Land Rover was produced by the Rover company. Today, these robust, go-anywhere vehicles are still produced in Solihull, near Birmingham.
A family-sized saloon, the Impala was the best-selling car in America for the first half of the 1960s. Having gone through 10 different iterations, the Impala was finally discontinued in 2016.
The car everyone knows, and will instantly recognise, the Mini is a true British motoring icon, and up there with the VW Beetle as one of the few cars to also become a star of the silver screen.
Once billed as, ‘The most wanted car by the market…’ the Corolla did much to overcome Japan’s reputation for producing cars of poor quality. Economical and efficient, this innovative model soon became one of the world’s best selling cars.
Marketed as an affordable family car, the Ford Escort had sold a staggering 2 million models by 1974. Despite its family-friendly credentials, the Escort went on to become one of the most successful rally cars of all time, winning the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally.
Ford Cortina Mk III
Recognised by its black vinyl roof and distinctive styling, the Ford Cortina made the most of a larger engine and 4 extra inches of width compared to it’s predecessor. So popular was the Cortina that in it’s time, it accounted for up to 1 in every 6 cars manufactured in the UK.
A model that has evolved beyond recognition, the Honda Civic was a welcome introduction to the car market at the time of the worldwide oil crisis. Economical and reliable, this was the first car to demonstrate Japan’s standing as a serious player in the worldwide car market.
Originally designed as a replacement for the VW Beetle, the Golf became the first ‘hot hatch’ car in the form of the GTi. Equally popular with families as well as boy racers, VW had sold 1 million models within the first 2 years of production.
After its launch, the Cavalier quickly became one of the biggest selling cars in the UK. Following its initial popularity, we have later developments in the Cavalier to thank for introductions such as SRi sporting models, 4×4 traction and the first V6 Vauxhall engine.
Built to be ‘the most outstanding small car the world had ever seen’, the Fiesta has successfully outrivalled other compact family cars. Permanently at or near the top of the bestseller list for the last 40 years, the Fiesta is the UK’s most popular car of all time.
A wide range of specifications – engine sizes, trims, 3-door, 5-door, estate, etc – really does mean that there is a Focus to suit everyone. Probably why, nearly 20 years after its launch, it still ranks as one of the top ten selling cars in the world.
If any car could change the opinion of a nation, the Fabia was it. Previously the butt of many a joke, Škoda finally became a reputable manufacturer in the eyes of the UK public following the launch of this supermini, selling over 1 million cars in 2015.
Think electric cars are 21st century technology? Think again! The big difference between this one and its modern counterparts is that this needed no fewer than 30 batteries!
Cadillac Model K
The first kit cars? In 1906, three of these were taken to pieces, before being completely rebuilt, and started up and run again without problems.
This German-designed and built car is widely reckoned to be the forerunner of the Volkswagen Beetle – and we can certainly see the similarities.
Considered way ahead of its time, the Airflow was designed as the epitome of the streamlining art, which was at its zenith during this period.
Willys will always be best-known for this purpose-designed military car, produced in response to a request from the US War Department for designs for a lightweight truck which could withstand use in tough terrain. The rest is history.
This car was the first with what we’d recognise today as an automatic transmission, with no clutch, the four forward speeds being selected via a stalk on the steering column.
Ford F150 Pickup
Ford’s first purpose-built pick-up truck, this has been another long-stayer, at the time of writing into its 13th generation! Showing no signs of flagging, though, it is said to have been America’s best-selling vehicle, year-on-year, since 1981.
This tiny Indiana, Georgia manufacturer holds the distinction of being the first to fit hydraulic disc brakes to all four wheels of a car. Sadly, this was short-lived, mainly because the system, adapted from an aeroplane, couldn’t withstand the level of use demanded in a typical car.
Italian style met French practicality in the DS, which was considered well ahead of its time, both for its design and some of the technology it incorporated. It was also named the most beautiful car of all time by Classic & Sports Car magazine.
Arguably the quintessential American ‘muscle car’, the instantly-recognisable Mustang embodies the confidence and flamboyance of the era. The brand is so important to Ford that it has retained it to this day, even though the cars are much-changed.
Plymouth (Chrysler) Voyager
As the first of the minivans, the Voyager revolutionised the lives of millions of parents, enabling them to taxi the whole family in one trip. Sliding doors helped with loading and unloading the brood in tight spaces, as well as keeping all those finger tips safe and intact.
From one talking car to another. The Maestro was the real thing, with an electronic engine control unit, digital dashboard and synthetic voice warning system, long before mobile phones were commonplace. In its day, it really was a car from the future.
Where would we be today without the MPV? Strapping small children to the roof of our cars, no doubt! Back in 1984, the Espace became the saviour of family life in the UK, providing 7 seats in a more manoeuvrable unit than the US alternative of the huge Chrysler Voyager.
The first car to have an Anti-Lock Braking System as standard throughout the range, the Scorpio received European Car of the Year award in 1986. ABS was swiftly adopted throughout the Ford range and other manufacturers soon followed suit.
With a length measuring the same as the width of most standard cars, parking the ForTwo is never going to be an issue. Surprisingly roomy for two (funnily enough) this ultimate city car can easily get you from A to B, as long as there’s not much luggage involved.
As the first hybrid-electric car to hit the market, the Insight introduced Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist technology to the masses. A light aluminium frame and aerodynamic body contributed to its fuel efficiency – a claimed 70mpg.
VW Golf GTE
The iconic Volkswagen Golf combines a turbocharged petrol engine with green technology to produce the VW Golf GTE hybrid. All the performance of the GTI coupled with a more economical electric motor for the best of both worlds.
Google Driverless Car
In theory, Google’s driverless technology can be applied to any car, as long as it has a 64-beam laser range measurer mounted on the top. Shortfalls, such as the inability to spot potholes or recognise a person signalling the car to stop, are expected to be resolved by 2020.
The Mirai is certainly a sign of things to come, running on hydrogen and expelling only water as a waste product. With availability initially limited to California where hydrogen fuelling is more easily accessible, it is expected to roll out worldwide in the coming years.
Tesla Model 3
Billed as an affordable, all-electric car, the third model in the Tesla range is eagerly anticipated. It’s grille-less, aerodynamic design and ability to run 215 miles on each lithium battery charge is likely to change the image of the common car forever.
Touted as the fastest production sports car ever built, the Chiron is limited to just 261mph but capable of an estimated 288mph. With only 500 models due to be made at a cost of £2 million each, you’d better place your order now!
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
The original cars were the precursor to the first long-lasting car model. The sole surviving example is considered to be the most valuable car in the world, having been estimated in 2005 as being worth £26.7 million.
Ferrari 250 GTO
If the British had shown they could build gorgeous cars, Ferrari characteristically produced its own response, in the shape of an aerodynamically-tweaked version of the production car, which has also finished top in polls to find the most beautiful car ever made.
With its engine behind the driver, the 911 established a template which has been widely copied by sports car makers the world over. Of the five cars which came top in a poll to find the 20th century’s best cars, only this and the VW Beetle are still in production.
The fastest production car available on its release, the Miura went on to become a massive critical success, proving that Lamborghini could match arch-rival Ferrari in producing an ultra-stylish racing car-inspired model.
The zenith of luxury vehicles, the Jaguar XJ came with power steering and leather upholstery as standard. The 4.2-litre engine required dual fuel tanks, each filled from either side of the boot. These days, you don’t have to be a ‘wide boy’ to drive one.
With a name derived from a Piedmontese exclamation of disbelief, The Lamborghini Countach is just that – unbelievable! Every boy’s dream of the ultimate sports car, its dramatic shape, the first to incorporate scissor doors, makes it an icon of the car world.
At top speeds of only 170mph, the Testarossa isn’t the fastest car in history, but boy, does it look great! Good enough reason to make it the best selling 12-cylinder Ferrari of all time.
Arguably the world’s most popular sports car, Mazda designed the MX5 to combine fun and reliability in one lightweight model. To keep the car agile, it was restricted to 113 bhp, thereby allowing for smaller brakes and a more flexible body.
Despite having one more seat than comparative cars, the McLaren F1 was named as the world’s fastest production car at its launch. With the driver positioned in the middle of the vehicle, the supercar offered better visibility than most sports cars.
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