Exploring the World’s Cult Classic Cars

Triumph Spitfire

Triumph Spitfire: Britain’s high-flying roadster

A Herald in a party frock, or a great British sports car for the masses?

The Triumph Spitfire pulled off the trick of being both, its pretty Michelotti-designed body periodically tweaked to keep it looking fresh throughout its 18-year production run.

Like its chief rivals, the Sprite and Midget, it represented affordable, wind-in-the-hair motoring with the emphasis on fun over outright performance.

We trace the history of a car that started life as Project Bomb, and became the Spitfire.

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MGB

MGB: enduring love for Britain’s best-selling sports car

It’s as quintessentially English as fish and chips, talking about the weather and a stiff upper lip.

No matter that the MGB was, in some ways, already outdated when it was launched in 1962, and positively antiquated by its demise in 1980, its title as Britain’s best-selling sports car will never be challenged.

Its good looks, honest charm, mechanical simplicity and affordability made it a huge success in its heyday and an ever-popular classic today.

We trace the legendary sports car’s long history.

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Vauxhall Astra GTE drawing

Vauxhall Astra GTE: the often-overlooked hot hatch king

Maybe it’s because it was late to the party. Maybe it’s the mark II’s love-it-or-hate-it styling. Or maybe it’s because it had as many downs as ups in the hot hatch arms race of the 1980s.

Whatever the reason, the Vauxhall Astra GTE is, these days, rarely spoken of with the same reverence as the Peugeot 205 GTi or the Escort XR3i.

It deserves better, especially the early car that gave the pace-setting Golf a run for its money, and the 156bhp GTE 16V once labelled the hot hatch king.

We look at the car that grew in stature to, albeit briefly, grab that coveted crown.

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Lancia Delta Integrale

Lancia Delta Integrale – the ultimate hot hatch

For petrolheads of a certain age, just whispering the words Lancia Delta Integrale is enough to moisten the palms and quicken the pulse a few beats.

Few cars genuinely deserve the sobriquet ‘icon’, but the Integrale is one – a no-holds-barred, road-going product of the Italians’ all-conquering, six-time world rally champion.

We trace the story of how an upmarket Turin shopping car evolved into the greatest sports hatch of its time, capable of blowing away everything from the equally legendary Audi Quattro to a Porsche 911.

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Vauxhall Chevette

Vauxhall Chevette – “it’s whatever you want it to be”

The Vauxhall Chevette was a car ahead of its time – the first UK-built supermini hatchback and a market leader until the Ford Fiesta grabbed its crown in 1978.

Along with its big brother, the Cavalier, the Chevette played its part in dragging Vauxhall’s reputation off the floor in the mid 1970s, with the rally-inspired 2.3-litre HS a genuine hot hatch.

We look at the history of the car that Vauxhall claimed could be “whatever you want it to be”.

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Nissan 300ZX

Nissan 300ZX – the saviour of the Z-cars

For years, Nissan had failed to replicate the raw thrills of the original Z-car, the legendary 240Z of 1969, producing a series of bloated replacements that pandered to the American market.

But then came the 300ZX, which – via two distinct incarnations – evolved to restore the lustre to the tarnished Z range that still shines brightly today.

We trace the car’s transformation from worthy 1980s sports coupé to the full-blooded Japanese performance masterpiece of the Nineties – the potent Z32.

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Citroen DS - the car that fell from the sky

Citroen DS: the car that fell from the sky

It was the car that looked “as if it had fallen from the sky”. In 1955, the Citroen DS stunned the motoring world when it was launched at the Paris Motor Show.

Aerodynamic, futuristic, with a huge raking bonnet and pioneering self-levelling suspension, the French car-maker took 12,000 orders on the first day alone.

We take a look back at the legendary “Goddess”.

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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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