Exploring the World’s Cult Classic Cars

Citroen SM

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 drawing

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

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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