The history of the British automotive industry traces its roots in the late 19th century when automakers tried to make some new vehicles but relying on German and French advances in car manufacturing. However, by 1900 Herbert Austin introduced an entirely British four-wheel car. His company – Wolseley Motors Limited – has actually become the largest car manufacturer in the UK. And other car producers took up the initiative opening the automotive era for Great Britain.
By 1922 the country estimated 183 automakers and in 1930-s it even outbid France to become the largest car manufacturer in Europe. It worth saying that till the 1950-s the UK held the second position in car production in the whole world giving way only to the United States. The British carmakers proved to be on the alert after the World War II as the demand for cars and vehicles in foreign countries has increased to great extent and Great Britain reached the top as the world’s biggest exporter.
But the country’s automotive industry began to lose ground soon. The German car production was in its sharpest and it finally captured the British market. Since the 1980s some foreign counterparts as Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Volvo and Fiat advanced their interests in Britain and the others like BMW, Volkswagen, SAIC and TATA acquired many British car brands, Rolls-Royce, Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley are to name the few.
Major British Car Manufacturers
Nevertheless, the UK is currently one of the leading powers in engine producing. It is also integral to and indispensably associated with car racing and motorsport industry. And though Britain has dropped to only 14-th place in the world’s motor vehicle production the British cars are still highly favored and adored worldwide.
Mini is a very stylish and trendy British car brand which has its admirers all over the world. The primary two-door Mini was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation since 1959 till 2000. It was initially sold under marques Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor, as Mini became an independent brand only in 1969. This small and elegant car proved to be the British icon of the 1960-s. Mini’s performance models got the name ‘Cooper’ in honor of the British racing idol John Cooper. Sport cars Mini Cooper S can boast of three Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967.
In 1994, the brand Mini was acquired by BMW. In 2001, the German company launched a new production line which includes such models as Mini Hatch/Hardtop, Clubman, Convertible, Countryman, Roadster and others.
Founder: Lionel Martin; Robert Bamford
Headquarters: Gaydon, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Aston Martin, officially called Aston Martin Lagonda Limited, is a famous British car manufacturer which specializes in luxury sports cars and grand touring cars. It was established by Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford in 1913. But the name ‘Aston Martin’ was registered a year later after Lionel Martin had successfully raced a special car at Aston Hill Climb.
Aston Martin debuted on the international scene with two cars competing in prestigious French Grand Prix in 1922. Since then the marque secured its positions providing a wide range of top-tier sports cars. The business has sky-rocketed in 1947 when an English industrialist Sir David Brown acquired Aston Martin. In 1950-s the company began to produce elite touring cars and the brand won hearts of millions of people when DB5 model appeared on screens in James Bond sequel ‘Goldfinger’.
Throughout its history the company has often run into financial troubles and changed several owners. The British luxury car brand currently has several joint owners with Italian private equity fund Investindustrial as the main shareholder.
Founded: 2 December 1985
Founder: Ron Dennis
Headquarters: McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, Surrey, United Kingdom
Parent: McLaren Group
McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of high-performance cars founded in 1989 by Ron Dennis. It bears the name of legendary Bruce McLaren who devoted his life to car racing and building the fastest and the quickest accelerating cars in the world.
From the very beginning McLaren Automotive pursued the idea of creating the finest road car in the world. They finally achieved the target by introducing McLaren F1 in 1992. It became the world’s first road car with carbon chassis and could accelerate from 0 to 97 km/h just in 3 seconds.
Nowadays, McLaren Automotive is represented through a wide network of more than 50 dealerships in different countries. The brand has a high-class McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England.
Headquarters: United Kingdom
Owner: Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar is a luxury car brand produced by Jaguar Land Rover. Jaguar cars are on the roads since 1935, though the manufacturer itself – Swallow Sidecar Company – appeared much earlier, in 1922, and initially specialized in motorcycle sidecars.
In fact, the brand came to prominence after a series of sports cars which brilliantly performed in overseas competitions. In particular, Jaguar brand was crowned with success after five tremendous Le Mans 24 Hours victories in the 1950-s. However, the company has changed several owners throughout its history, including British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Ford. Since 2008, the marque belongs to the Indian company Tata Motors.
Jaguar is an elite and up-market British car company. And it comes as no surprise that it manufactured high-class models for the British Prime Minister and has the royal warrants from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.
Founded: 18 January 1919
Founder: H. M. Bentley; W. O. Bentley
Headquarters: Crewe, England, United Kingdom
Parent: Volkswagen Group
Bentley is a highly popular British car brand, and as it usually is in Britain – inseparably associated with luxury. This globally respected marque is produced by Bentley Motors Limited which in its turn is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG.
The company was founded in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley who set heart on creating a lightweight car bearing his name. In 1922, Bentley cars debuted in the Indianapolis 500 mile race. But they won international recognition with the 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1924 and another four consecutive wins from 1927 to 1930.
The Great Depression of 1929 forced Bentley Motors into financial troubles. However, the company regained feet after Rolls-Royce acquired its assets in 1931. Since 1998 Bentley Motors Ltd. is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG.
These days, the British carmaker covers a broad spectrum of the international market with China proved to be the largest trade area for Bentley cars. And it is of high prestige in the UK, as Bentley gifted an impressive official State Limousine to Queen Elizabeth II for her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
Founder: Colin Chapman
Headquarters: Hethel, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Parent: Zhejiang Geely Holding Group
Lotus Cars is a British maker of sportive & racing vehicles established by specialist Collin Chapman in 1952. The organization put focus on creating street vehicles and delivering racing autos for clients. It proceeded with its heritage until today since the organization till designs and constructs race and mass-production autos of light weight and great handling characteristics.
The Lotus logo indicates the extraordinary personality of the people behind the company. At a closer look, you will see that on the hood of a Lotus, there’s a clutter of letters over the organization name. These letters represent Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, the founder who made the first Lotus in his carport utilizing a 1930s Austin Seven and a power drill. The Lotus logo demonstrates the unfading inheritance of Chapman. The yellow color on the emblem means energy, sun, and joy, while the green color is connected with speed and passion.
Founder: Spencer and Maurice Wilks
Headquarters: Great Britain
Owner: Jaguar Land Rover
Land Rover is a British vehicle maker with its central office in Gaydon, United Kingdom. The company specializes in creation of four-wheel-drive cars. It was directly possessed by the Indian organization Tata Motors, being a part of their Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). It is the 2nd oldest four-wheel-drive vehicle brand on the planet after Jeep.
The first Land Rover was made after World War II by British siblings, Spencer, and Maurice Wilks. They worked with the British automaker Rover to make the main Land Rover in 1948. This truck was outfitted with lasting four-wheel-drive, a canvas rooftop, and optional doors. These early Land Rovers were unrefined however very appropriate for tasks in the field.
The Land Rover logo bears its organization name like other vehicle logos. It is depicted as a green oval emblem with Land Rover words within. The Land Rover logo is simple but stays in vogue like its vehicles. Its tough body type made it emerge among other vehicle logos.
Founder: Cecil Kimber
Headquarters: Longbridge, Birmingham (Previously Abingdon, Oxfordshire)
Parent: SAIC Motor UK
MG Motor (formally MG Motor UK Limited) is a British vehicle maker owned by SAIC Group and based in Birmingham, United Kingdom. MG Motor UK Ltd was established in 2006 and was acquired by Nanjing Automobile Corporation that runs the production plant now.
The organization designs, creates, assembles the vehicles under the MG marque. Presently, most of MG vehicles sold in Europe are basically made in China before being transported to the Longbridge for the final assembly. In their Longbridge site, research and development are also performed.
The MG logo has a historical record like other vehicle logos. The MG initials were picked by Cecil Kimber, the founder of MG, as a sign of favor to William Morris, his boss, and the proprietor of Morris Garages. The MG logo shows the initials encased in an octagon outline and is very popular on the auto market. The company picked up the attention of customers thanks to the unique construction of motors.
Founder: Alexander Wilson
Headquarters: Chalton, Bedfordshire, England
Parent: Opel Automobile GmbH
Owner: Groupe PSA
Vauxhall Motors is a British car organization possessed by General Motors (GM) located in Luton. Alex Wilson established it in 1857 as a marine motor maker and started producing autos only in 1903 before being acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-biggest selling vehicle brand in the UK for over 20 years. The organization had delivered bunches of vehicle models in a joint effort with Opel Company in Germany and planned to make more eco agreeable vehicles.
Vauxhall logo has the Griffin token, which is still being used. It was inspired by the coats of arms of Falkes de Breauté, a warrior who was served to King John in the thirteenth century. Like other vehicle logos, Vauxhall Iron Works adopted this emblem to accentuate its connection to the neighborhood. In fact, the Vauxhall logo used to be square but is currently round to correspond with the Opel seal. The new Vauxhall vehicle logos boast fresh design and tell of the innovation the organization advanced in its 100 years of inheritance.
Founder: John Kemp Starley & William Sutton
Headquarters: England: Longbridge, West Midlands
Rover is a British car marque that was utilized somewhere in the range of 1904 and 2005. It was initially established as a bike producer called Rover Company in 1878, preceding assembling vehicles in 1904. The brand utilized the notable Viking longship as its logo. The rights to the marque presently belong to Jaguar Land Rover, however, no Rover vehicles are produced anymore, and the marque is ceased.
Founder: Simon Saunders
Headquarters: Crewkerne, Somerset, United Kingdom
This is a relatively new automobile company that was established in 1991 and started producing in Somerset, England. The company name was changed to Ariel Ltd in 2001 when it bought the right to manufacture cars and motorcycles.
Their red and white logotype is made to reflect the simplicity of the company. Under the A letter, there’s the name of the organization. On the contrary with large car manufacturers, Ariel has a small production plant with 7 people involved only.
During the 27 years of its existence before it was bought by Solocrest, the company marketed 5 different logos. Today, it focuses on the production of sports cars mostly, and customers often associate their logo with originality and quality of their production.
Headquarters: Goodwood, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Moves Royce Motor Cars Limited is a British luxury vehicle creator. Being a completely possessed auxiliary of German BMW, it was established in 1998 after BMW acquired the rights for the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Volkswagen AG. Now the production is organized in West Sussex, England, the United Kingdom since 2003.
The Rolls Royce logo and “The Spirit of Ecstasy” has decorated the radiators of Rolls Royce cars since 1911, and both these emblems are constantly positioned vertically. The Rolls-Royce sign comprises of two letters “R”, meaning Royce and Rolls, the geniuses behind their globally acknowledged brand.
The blue shade of this emblem means generosity and strength. It also represents class, beauty, and superiority of the organization, while the white shading reflects elegance and honorability.
The organization’s name in the Rolls Royce logo is constantly referenced with a hyphen. The hyphen means the strong friendly relationship between the two founders.
The Spirit of Ecstasy” or “The Flying Lady” is another irreplaceable part of the Rolls Royce organization, It was made by Charles Sykes as a statue to embellish Rolls Royce vehicles. Spirit of Ecstasy is used as an indication of their incredible passion and love.
Founder: Trevor Wilkinson; Jack Pickard
Headquarters: Walliswood, Surrey
Parent: Syndicate of British Businessmen; Welsh Government
TVR is an autonomous British producer of sports autos. The TVR Company was founded in 1949 by young Trevor Wilkinson, who fabricated his first sports vehicle with its very own body and a Ford motor. The organization had attempted to be known for a decade however the success came with the creation of Grantura, a short-wheelbase sports vehicle sold in packs structure. It was accessible with an assortment of motors and running gears.
TVR’s vehicles have been famous for good performance because of their enormous power and simplicity. On the drawback, they were notorious for poor construction quality and tricky handling.
TVR vehicle logo is simple and yet reflects modernity and advances of technologies. The silver and black emblem rather looks like something from the future, and now carries some sort of vintage touch.
Besides listed above there are also many other respectable car manufacturers in Great Britain: Ascari Cars, Morgan, Caparo and others.