Exploring the World’s Cult Classic Cars

Ford Fiesta illustration

Ford Fiesta: the supreme supermini

It was far from the first supermini, but for more than 40 years the Ford Fiesta has held an iron grip on the small car sector.

Britain’s best-selling car for nine years on the spin up to 2017, as well as five times before that, the Fiesta has seduced more buyers than any other car on these shores since it was launched in 1976.

We look back at the early years of an understated legend.

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Vauxhall Cavalier

Vauxhall Cavalier: the car that saved GM in Britain

It was the car that breathed new life into Vauxhall, a mile-eating motorway cruiser with sharp handling and a smooth, refined engine.

The Cavalier may not have knocked the Ford Cortina off the top of the sales charts, but it probably deserved to.

We look at the history of the mark 1, launched in 1975 and a key turning-point for Vauxhall.

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Ford Anglia

Ford Anglia: Life before Harry Potter

The Ford Anglia is a rarity among classic cars – it’s immediately recognised all over the world by children and young people, even if it’s as “the Harry Potter car” and not by its given name.

But among the older generation, the Anglia was already a well-known and well-loved family car long before J K Rowling plucked the forerunner to the Ford Escort from her own memory banks and made it fly into the global spotlight.

We take a look at the history of the Anglia, focusing on the 105E, which sold more than a million between 1959 and 1967.

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VW Golf GTi

VW Golf GTi: the birth of a legend

The Beetle was a tough act to follow, but when Volkswagen launched the Golf in 1974, boy did they get it right.

It couldn’t have been more different to its antiquated predecessor – front-engined, front-wheel drive, and a hatchback, ‘folded paper’ design penned by Giorgetto Guigiaro.

But it was the arrival of the GTi in June 1976 that turned this small, fuel-efficient family runabout into the car that invented an entire genre, the “hot hatch”.

We look back at the birth of a legend, the mark I Golf GTi.

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Toyota Supra

Toyota Supra: the supercar killer

Toyota’s first Supra was little more than a badge on a Celica, at 110bhp a world away from the fire-breathing budget supercar it was to become.

It wasn’t until 1986 that the Supra became a model in its own right, and the car had to wait until the A80 generation in 1993 to truly catch fire.

We explore the history of the cult Japanese classic, and speak to one owner about his pristine import.

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Ford Granada

Ford Granada: the executive saloon gamechanger

Few big saloons of the 1970s had the cool factor in quite the swaggering way of the Ford Granada.

A bold move away from the boxy Zephyr and Zodiacs, the handsome Granada vindicated Ford’s pan-European strategy to build a car as popular in London as Berlin.

The car’s future cult classic status was secured as the conveyance of choice for DI Jack Regan, the hard-as-nails cop in The Sweeney, while fleet buyers were turning to the big Ford in their droves.

We take a look at the car that changed the executive game.

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Trabant 601

Sixty years of the Trabant: communist people’s car turned symbol of freedom

Few cars hold such an iconic place in European history as the humble Trabant, the East German people’s car that became a symbol of freedom at the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Derided in the west as the very essence of communist inefficiency and incompetence – noisy, smoky, slow and uncomfortable – the car is the subject of more myths and misinformation than almost any other.

But, as the now defunct marque approaches its 60th anniversary in November 2017, we go behind the Iron Curtain to separate fact from fiction and speak to one devoted owner.

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The Beast from the East: 60 years of the Nissan Skyline

The iconic bruiser from Japan has gone down in performance car folklore, as popular in video games and on the big screen as with its legion of devoted fans.

Originally a luxury saloon manufactured by the Prince Motor Company in 1957, the car evolved into the legendary Nissan Skyline GT-R, a tuner’s favourite dubbed “Godzilla, the monster from Japan” by the Australian press.

We look back at 60 years of motoring’s Beast from the East.

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Wolseley 1500: from minor to major

Wolseley 1500: from minor to major

In 1957 the Morris Minor was nine years old and thoughts had turned to its replacement. Enter the Wolseley 1500 and Riley 1.5, which used the Minor floorpan married to the 1489cc B-series engine – a hefty upgrade on the Minor’s 948cc unit.

But the redoubtable Minor was not ready to be confined to the annals of automotive history – not by a long way – with Morris able to sell every one produced.

So the Wolseley and Riley became an up-market alternative instead. We take a look at a car that became a big success in its own right.

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Fiat 600: The baby Fiat you may not remember

Fiat 600: The baby Fiat you may not remember

When did you last see a Fiat 600 on the road? No, me neither. Indeed, the uninitiated may be forgiven for not even knowing the 600 ever existed, such has been the cultural dominance of the 500, the iconic little car resurrected by the Italian firm in 2007 after 32 years out of production.

But it was the the 500s bigger brother, and predecessor by two years, that was the original, mass-selling small Italian car, Fiat’s first rear-engined vehicle and in production a whole four years before Britain’s Mini.

We look at the oft-forgotten classic that sold a million cars in its first six years of production.

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