When it comes to great car brands, it’s safe to say that the UK has got more than a few notable names under its belt, many of which have been churning out quality motors now for many years, while others have since faded into obscurity. But those that are worth their salt have made a name for themselves that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, and despite the charm and allure of the array of Italian, German and French cars that have made their way onto the scene over the past few decades, they will always have a special place in our heart.
Here, we look back at some of the top British car brands of all time – most of which have become household names and offer highly-coveted luxury cars to this day.
Founded in London back in 1913, Aston Martin has long been associated with the glitz and glamour of the likes of James Bond, and won itself a legion of loyal fans amongst the rich and famous early on. But in spite of this, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the brand, with current CEO Andy Palmer, who took the helm of the company in 2014, famously joking that the company had previously gone bankrupt not once, but seven times.
Regardless, it remains one of the most notable British car brands in history, and continues to create highly coveted sets of wheels to this day. Its current portfolio includes the likes of the shiny new Vantage and the upcoming hypecar, with the four-door Rapide continuing to be a popular choice.
Synonymous with style and luxury, Bentley has long been a stalwart of the British motor industry thanks to the launch of its luxury saloon cars in the 70s and 80s and remains a favoured choice amongst the wealthy thanks to its beautiful, high-performance range of motors.
In its early days, the company was an intimidating presence at Le Mans, winning the 24-hour race five times between 1920 and 1930. In 2003, it finally won its title back, with a little help from Audi. Both firms are owned by the Volkswagen Group – in Bentley’s case, since 1998.
It’s safe to say that Bentley is a brand that isn’t afraid to move with the times, and in 2016, it entered the luxury SUV market with its Bentayga. A controversial move in the eyes of many, but one that seems to have paid off.
Formula One fans will be very familiar with this high-end brand, which has been competing for many years now – with its early road cars including the F1, in 1993, and the SLR supercar, in partnership with Mercedes, in 2003.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the company upped its game when it came to the more mainstream market, creating the MP4-12C supercar, which was mass-produced by a new company named McLaren Automotive.
From then onwards, it has been a rival to both Porsche and Ferrari, despite the fact that both have been around for ten times as long.
Buyers today can choose from the likes of the Senna – which recently replaced the P1 as McLaren’s flagship offering, as well as the 570GT. Entry-level options include the 540C and 570S – neither of which would look at all bad sitting on your driveway.
While this one might seem like a wild card, there’s no denying that Vauxhall is one of the most successful British car brands of all time.
Founded by Alexander Wilson in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, it was bought in 1863 by Andrew Betts Brown, and has changed hands several times since. It was, at one stage, a luxury car brand – but was acquired by American automaker General Motors in 1925, shifting its focus to mid-market offerings at the same time. In 2017, the European arm of General Motors was taken over by PSA – which also owns Peugeot – and after a worrying few years beforehand, became profitable once again.
Today, it still has major manufacturing facilities in Luton and Ellesmere Port – both in the UK. With a huge range of models under its belt, the brand has made more car sales than any of the other companies featured in this article – which is why we couldn’t leave it off this list. If you’re in the market for one, then either head over to your nearest Vauxhall dealer or take a look at some of these incredible Pentagon Vauxhall offers online.
One of the oldest brands on the block, Rolls Royce is also one of the most respected, with its huge and extravagant cars having cemented their place as the top choice for wedding cars thanks to the unrivalled glamour and sophistication they exude.
Today, the cars are partly built in Germany before being completed here on British soil in Goodwood, Sussex. Cars are tailored to customer wants, needs, and often – demands – with the latest Phantom featuring miniature 3D pieces of art installed on the dashboard.
This brand and its cars are like poetry in motion, with even the terminology used to denote features reflecting the fact. Go and talk with a dealer, and you’ll find out exactly what we mean!