Best 15 British Car Brands
The British automotive industry has been one of the richest in the world since it began manufacturing cars. Britain had been the second-largest vehicle manufacturing country by the mid 20th century. But when did it all begin?
In 1880, a London-based consulting engineer Frederick Simms produced a high-speed petrol engine with his friend Gottlieb Daimler. Simms acquired the right to that engine, and, in 1893, he founded The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited. Later, H.J. Lawson bought the company, and UK’s first serial production car began there.
However, the first all-Britain car was made in 1897 by Richard Stephens. He was a mining engineer from South Wales. From the car’s two-cylinder engine to its design, Richard did it all. But it was Herbert Austin who designed and built the first all-British four-wheel car in 1900.
His company, Wolseley Motors Limited, was the most prominent car manufacturing company in Britain till 1913. And over the next decade, the British automobile manufacturing companies increased to almost 200.
Britain held its top position till 1950 and contributed significantly during the Second World War. However, British automotive companies began to lose their top position once other countries like Japan, Germany, and France joined the car production market with top-quality cars.
Nevertheless, it is still one of the top car manufacturing countries in the world and produces famous luxury and sports cars. Some famous British car brands, such as Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, Daimler, Lagonda, etc., are only a few out of many. And today, I will be discussing some of Britain’s top car brands.
Top 15 British Car Brands
Britain has been exporting cars worldwide for around a century, and many British car brands are famous in all the countries it exports to. The country manufactures luxurious sports cars, along with affordable passenger cars.
I have listed 15 such popular brands hoping that it will help you figure out which car brand fits your choice.
Founder: Sir William Lyons, William Walmsley
Founded In: 1922
Everyone recognizes the leaping feline logo as soon as they see it and knows the car is made by Jaguar. It is one of the most famous British luxury car brands sold globally. These cars from this brand are known for their outstanding performance and faster speed.
Primarily, the brand’s name was the Swallow Sidecar Company. Two motorcycle enthusiasts named William Lyons and William Walmsley founded the company in 1922. And after Walmsley was voted out of the company in 1934, Lyons formed the S.S Car Limited.
Jaguar first emerged as a car model name in 1935, and the company’s shareholders decided to change the brand name to Jaguar. The brand has been successfully running ever since.
In 1990, Ford acquired the company and later the Land Rover in 2000. But in 2008, Ford sold both these brands to the famous Indian car brand Tata Motors.
As for its classic leaping feline logo, it used to be a decorative ornament on the Jaguar cars. But due to some safety concerns, the logo is now moved to the rear end of the cars. And just like that leaping jaguar, the brand represents elegance, performance, power, and the ambition to leap forward.
- Land Rover
Founder: Maurice Wilks
Founded In: 1948
The Land Rover is also one of the famous and largest British car brands after Jaguar. And if you want to know how excellent this brand is, you should know that Land Rover is the only brand to challenge the American SUVs after coming out.
Maurice Wilks, along with his associates, created a prototype in 1947. They used Jeep chassis and components for that. And just a year later, in 1947, the first Land Rover car came out.
In 1951, this brand won Royal Awards from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. It also received prestigious awards from the British Government.
Why wouldn’t they? The Land Rover cars are built to perform like beasts. These cars are big, strong, and built to last a long time. You can take them anywhere as they can withstand any street and weather conditions.
Over the years, this brand launched several successful models, such as Defender, Discovery, Freelance, the Range Rover series. The new Range Rover models got more popular after being associated with celebrity star Victoria Beckham.
Founder: Charles Rolls, Henry Royce
Founded In: 1906
Did you see the founders’ names of this famous brand? This brand was named after its two founders, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, and became the Rolls Royce.
The Rolls Royce cars symbolize luxury, classiness, and an excellent handcraftship. All the cars of this brand are eye-catching and built with details. Many wealthy and famous people purchase these cars, and some of them even collect their models.
This famous British car brand has a rich history. Charles Rolls was a well-known British car racer and met Henry Royce in 1910.
They took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1912 and won the race. Henry Royce was his driving mechanic.
The cars are famous for both their appearance and performance. These cars allow the users to experience smooth and less noisy driving.
In 1998, Rolls Royce was sold to German brand Volkswagen. But BMW got the car selling the right to this brand.
Then in 2002, BMW took over the entire company. Some famous Rolls Royce models are smaller Ghost-door sedans, two-door coupe, extended wheelbase, etc.
- Aston Martin
Founder: Robert Bamford, Lionel Martin
Founded In: 1913
Aston Martin is a brand that carries British culture and heritage. It is yet another luxury sports car and grand tourer brand with immense popularity worldwide.
It is one of the brands associated with the famous James Bond movie. But let’s go back to the beginning for a moment.
Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin founded the brand in 1913. Both of them used to sell Singer cars and serviced other brands. But later, they decided to start their car manufacturing company.
Interestingly, this brand’s cars are that they are all handmade models. And each of them comes with a bronze plaque that contains the person’s name behind the particular model.
Aston Martin cars are now some of the luxurious and expensive models you will come across. And for its cars’ fast and reliable performance, this brand received a Royal Warrant from Prince Charles in 1982.
Founder: British Motor Corporation
Founded In: 1909
Just like the name, Mini is a famous brand known for manufacturing economical and classic mini cars. This two-door, compact car became popular and famous around Britain and globally as soon as the first model came out.
But how did the brand get its adorable little name? The British Motor Corporation founded it in 1909, mirroring the 2nd Generation Ford model T.
BMC instructed its advertising company, Mann & Overton, to develop a name for their new model, and the company gave the name Mini. Being simple and small, the name stayed and became well-known rapidly.
Mini became one of the highest-selling cars in Britain’s history. But over the years, especially in the 21st century, the brand had a change in ownership. The new Mini logo is different from the old one, and the cars have also been transformed in a new way.
Founder: Walter Owen Bentley
Founded In: 1919
Bentley is also among the car brands that manufacture and sells luxurious cars. And like many other famous British car brands, this one also received a Royal Warrant from the Royal family.
Walter Owen Bentley founded the brand in 1919 to manufacture luxurious sports cars. The car made by this company was called the 3-liter. The name sounds interesting, but it got such a name as the car had a 3-liter engine capacity and could run with a 100 mph speed.
The brand does not offer a vast range of models to choose from. But you will notice that all the available models have a unique interior and exterior look with an excellent, eye-catching finish.
Bentley is known for its expensive cars. And right now, German car brand Volkswagen owns this British car manufacturing company.
Founder: Bruce McLaren
Founded In: 1963
McLaren is a British sports car brand based in Surrey. Bruce McLaren founded the brand in 1963.
He was a Formula One race car driver. The cars from this brand became quite popular after they came out.
Bruce McLaren had some of the most incredible ideas regarding the designs of the McLaren cars. The carbon fiber interior sports cars are incredible and beautiful. As for these cars’ performance, they are some of the fastest sports cars you will find.
The unfortunate event came when the brand’s founder died tragically in 1971 while testing the McLaren M8D. Later, Ron Dennis and his racing team continued working on their projects with this brand. In 2010, the brand emerged as McLaren Automotive and a stand-alone car manufacturing brand.
Founder: Colin Bruce Chapman
Founded In: 1952
Lotus is the brand that won the Formula 1 title, not just once or twice but seven times. What makes the brand an exception is its lightweight cars and user-friendliness. Colin Chapman founded the company in 1952, and it has been actively manufacturing cars ever since.
The sports and racing cars this brand manufactures have always been recognized for their ability to perform excellently. Lotus is one of those brands that gives priority to quality over quantity. That is why the company manufactures a limited number of cars every year.
The brand logo is one of the most iconic ones not because of its color or design but because of a peculiar reason. The logo contains the initials of the brand’s founder Colin Chapman.
Founder: Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan
Founded In: 1909
The full name of this brand is the Morgan Motor Company. It is not a big car manufacturing company but makes limited-edition deluxe sports cars.
All the Morgan car models bear the resemblance of 30s-40s classic cars. The founder, Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan, is a famous car manufacturer.
He made sure the cars from his brand maintained the traditional appearance but with versatility. Every Morgan car model is hand-assembled.
This British car brand manufactures about 850 units per year, ensuring excellent quality of the cars. So naturally, there is always a long waiting list, and often it takes more than a year to get in one’s queue.
- AC Cars Ltd
Founder: John Weller, John Portwine
Founded In: 1901
Of all the British car brands you have learned or heard of so far, AC Cars are the oldest. The company was formerly known as Auto Carriers.
This car brand was founded in 1901 and is known for manufacturing a limited number of handcrafted luxury cars. It is the first company to produce and sell sports cars. Its two-seat sports cars gained fame pretty quickly.
The graphic AC on the logo looks like something you see through a magnifying glass. The company recently acquired Zenos and will probably come up with something surprising.
Founder: Arash Farboud
Founded In: 1999
When Arash Farboud founded his car manufacturing company in 1999, its name was Farboud Limited. Under this name, the company developed its first car Farboud GT. But the car was not launched until 2001.
Then he designed the Farboud GTS and launched it in 2004. The company did not have the name Arash Motor Co. until much later.
The brand logo bears the image of a peregrine falcon, which represents fast speed. The downside of the brand is the price of the cars.
For a lesser-known brand like this one, the cars are pretty expensive. But once you look at the cars, you are bound to agree that they are some of the most fantastic and most vibrant cars you have seen.
Founder: Simon Saunders
Founded In: 1991
This is another brand that started business under a different name. Simon Saunders founded the company in 1991, but it was called Solocrest Ltd. It is not a huge brand, but it manufactures hand-built cars on orders.
And even though the company manufactures only a few cars a year, it still managed to establish itself as a successful brand. The most well-known model this company produced is the Ariel Atom. The car has no roof or creature comfort.
The surprising part of Ariel is it has only seven people working on manufacturing cars and yet manages to produce about 100 cars a year.
Founder: Klaas Zwart
Founded In: 1995
Ascari is one of the famous British car brands and it manufactures sports cars. The company was founded by Dutch millionaire Zwart Klaas. He was the owner of the Ascari House.
The brand was named Ascari after the famous two-time Formula One winner, Alberto Ascari. Before him, no one won such a prestigious title twice.
This car brand released its first car in 1998, three years after the company began its journey. After releasing its car model Ascari Ecosse, a businessman bought the company. And now, it focuses on manufacturing road and race cars.
Founder: Trevor Wilkinson, Jack Pickard
Founded In: 1947
TVR is well-known for manufacturing lightweight and high-speed sports cars. Trevor Wilkinson founded the company in 1947. And the letters TVR are retrieved from his first name.
The company began its journey to revive the dying sports car manufacturing industry. And the first car it launched was the TVR Tuscan. Later it worked with several famous brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, etc.
Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt in 2006, but a businessman acquired the company later. The brand now aims to manufacture at least 1000 cars per year.
Founder: Alexander Wilson
Founded In: 1857
I was hoping to save one of the best British car brands for last, and here it is. Vauxhall is one of those brands that know and care more about what people want.
This mass-market car manufacturing company aims to make relevant cars for all and has been the second-largest car selling company in the UK for around 20 years. Alexander Wilson founded it in 1857 as a marine engine and pump manufacturer company. But it began manufacturing cars in 1903.
General Motors purchased the company in 1925. Now a French group owns this British car brand.
Whether you want to look for a simple, small passenger car or a giant and beasty luxury car, British car brands have them all covered. You only need to know precisely where to look for them. The brands I mentioned are among the most reputed in the UK and globally.
Today, there are more than 35 active British car manufacturing companies, and most of them are among the highest manufacturing and car selling companies. They have been in the top position for decades for making the most elegant, versatile, and reliable cars.