Exploring the World’s Cult Classic Cars

Austin Allegro drawing

Austin Allegro: the worst car ever made?

The Austin Allegro is the home-grown car the British most love to hate, or at least mock.

Its faults have been catalogued at length, from its ‘Quartic’ steering wheel, its grinding gearchange and its questionable build quality, among other glitches and foibles.

But was it really that bad? We trawl back through contemporary road tests; some of them may surprise you.

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Ford Model T cartoon

Ford Model T: the car that started a revolution

Henry Ford didn’t invent the motor car, but his Model T changed the face of our towns, cities and countryside forever.

The affordable American automobile, nicknamed Tin Lizzy, was the first to be mass-produced on an assembly line, and got the rising middle-classes moving in unprecedented numbers.

We look at the story of arguably the most influential car in history.

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Karmann Ghia

VW Karmann Ghia: the German-Italian beauty

The Karmann Ghia was the sports car that wasn’t really a sports car, a triumph of Italian design married to the rugged reliability of the VW Beetle.

As the car celebrates its 65th birthday this year, we look at how three companies came together to create a masterpiece.

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Citroën SM: a brilliant failure

Citroën already had a reputation for building extraordinary cars long before the extravagant, Maserati-powered SM stunned the motoring world in 1970.

The 2CV had provided affordable motoring for the masses, while the technologically advanced and boldly-styled DS drew gasps on its launch in 1955.

The space-age SM was even more audacious, marrying sports car performance from Italy with Citroën’s legendary technical innovations.

So how, and why, did this sumptuous French flagship come to market?

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Škoda S110R: the car that launched a rally legend

Before its transformation under Volkswagen, Škoda was a byword for cheap and fairly nasty cars, and the butt of countless jokes.

But one vehicle among the Czech company’s back catalogue deserves to be treated with considerably more respect.

The S110R is not only a pretty little couple in its own right, but it also spawned the rally-spec 130RS, class winner of the Monte Carlo Rally and dubbed the “Porsche of the East”.

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Range Rover Classic: the birth of an icon

The year 2020 marks 50 years since the Range Rover arrived, crashing and trampling its way to creating an entirely new category of vehicle – what, today, we call an SUV.

In those five decades, it’s come a long way, evolving from hose-it-out workhorse with plastic seats and rubber floors to the world’s swankiest, most luxurious off-roader.

We look back at what made the classic Range Rover one of the most revered British cars of all time.

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Jaguar E-Type: “the most beautiful car ever made”

Bold, beautiful, brilliant, and a breakthrough in fast GT motoring, the Jaguar E-Type had it all – including a relatively affordable price.

Its ease of use, stunning design, and race-bred handling combined with a potential 150mph redefined the public’s expectations of sports car motoring.

How did Jaguar get it so right?

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Renault 4: the real French people’s car

Think of an unconventional, idiosyncratic French people’s car, and the Citroen 2CV is bound to spring to mind.

Yet the Renault 4, almost forgotten in the UK, comfortably outsold the famous ‘tin snail’ to become the best-selling French car of all time, with more 8million produced.

We look at the car that sold all over the world during a 31-year production run ending in 1992.

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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: 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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