The Eight Principles of the Classic


There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the word ‘classic’. And for such a controversial word, petrol heads and general lovers of cars and bikes use the word perhaps more than any other. In a noble attempt to clarify our terms at the start of our ‘classic’ feature thread, we thought we’d consult the good book: and find examples out there in the real world that exemplify the various definitions of the ‘C’ word. Tell us what you think of our choices, and please, feel free to suggest your alternatives.

Classic (adj) (as defined by Collins Dictionary 1991)
1 ‘of the highest class’ : The Rolls Royce Phantom Coupé


Synonymous with the highest possible ideals of motoring perfection, many believe that Rolls Royce has reached new heights with the latest range of models. Combining as it does superlative performance with bespoke tailoring, could the Phantom Coupé be the most classic Rolls ever?

2 ‘serving as a standard model of its kind’: The Honda Civic Type R


In its many and various manifestations the Civic Type R has set the standard by which all hot hatches are measured. They are engineered with the perfect balance of fun-focused emotion and workaday reliability – and that’s what Hot Hatches – the icon of the everyman – are all about.

3 ‘adhering to an established set of principles’: The Morgan Plus Four


Sticking with a formula of hand-wrought production values in a self consciously retrospective style, a Morgan is instantly recognisable. Though that self-conscious styling plays on deep-lying popular ideas of what constitutes a classic (falling perhaps into cliché), it achieves its aim every time.

4 ‘characterised by simplicity, balance, regularity or purity of form’: Harley Davidson Sportster


Love them or hate them, the perennial popularity of the simple but burly V-Twin form is the core of one of the strongest brands mankind has ever known. As such, the consistently pure idea that is the Harley will continue to rumble into legend.

5 ‘of lasting significance or interest’: McLaren F1


In 1998 the McLaren F1, setting a still rarely matched top speed of 243 MPH, almost single-handedly ushered in the era of the road going hypercar. Representing the boomtime economics of GP-roadcar crossover it remains a totemically significant classic – even in a world where the Bugatti Veyron exists.

6 ‘continuously in fashion because of a simplicity of style’: The Mini


Despite the current mania generated by the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Alex Issigonis’s Mini design, the little cars never really went out of fashion. Devastatingly simple, accessible and fun, the design will be forever associated with a time and a place in when Britain was at the centre of style.


And it’s difficult to argue that the new Mini doesn’t carry on many of the traditions initiated by the BMC version. Loved particularly by women of a certain age, and an ongoing exemplar of the British thing (ok, we know they’re German, but still…) their stratospheric sales figures are testament to the brand’s ongoing appeal.

7 ‘of the highest excellence’: The Land Rover Discovery 3


With its ability to range deep into the most inhospitable terrain imaginable as well as being the perfect luxury long-distant ride for a family of six (or a handful of outdoor adventurers), the Disco 3 is the apogee of a much-maligned form.

8 ‘regarded as definitive’: The Lamborghini Countach LP400


If you were a man-child of the seventies or early eighties, the Countach will always be the definitive dream car. The Gandini designed shell, the scissor doors and its multilayered hooligan chic remains unsurpassed. Hats off to Bertone.