Thursday, October 2, 2014

All British Car Days: My Top 10

The All British Car Days car show is an annual event held in Round Rock, Texas, that features an array of wonderful English machinery. Whether you prefer the quirky MG roadsters, the robust Land Rover SUVs, or the powerful Jaguar coupes, there's a ton of variety. This year's show was a great turnout, with simply perfect weather and a diverse and eclectic mix of cars. I thought instead of the typical photo gallery, I'd do a countdown of my personal favorites. Naturally, there were some really impressive machines that didn't make the list, and narrowing it all down to 10 cars was a struggle. That said, here they are:

10. 1973 Jensen-Healey

Although there were plenty of iconic British sports cars to enjoy, such as Triumphs and MGs, this car was my favorite of the genre. It's a bit uncommon compared to its contemporary competitors, but as far as classic British sports cars are concerned, I find that the chiseled muscle-car looks of the Jensen-Healey give it an edge. This one was lightly modified, and tastefully so, making it worthy of Top 10 status.

9. 1952 Bentley Mark VI

In addition to sports cars, the British also produce some of the most desirable luxury cars in the world. Rolls-Royce and Bentley are legendary British manufacturers known for creating world-class luxury cars. This 1952 Bentley Mark VI illustrated just how worthy that reputation is. The level of craftsmanship shown on this car, both inside and out, was beyond description. There are houses in nice neighborhoods that don't come close to the quality of comfort seen here.

8. 1957 Morgan Plus 4

Morgan is a manufacturer I can support wholeheartedly. The "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality is a core part of their philosophy. They still utilize wood to build the chassis of every car, and they still build cars that they introduced in the 1950's. I heard someone refer to a Morgan as "the car they forgot to quit making." This one, though, is a bona fide 1957 Plus 4, a rare machine nowadays. The details on this car were what really put it a notch above the rest, and earned it a place in this countdown.

7. 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT

Since being introduced in 2005, the Aston Martin Vantage has seen a lot of changes and upgrades, although visually it's virtually unchanged. There have been V8 and V12 variants, coupes and convertibles, and countless trim levels. This one, the brand-new Vantage GT, uses the 4.7 V8 from the Vantage S, and adopts a track-inspired setup that mixes sharp handling with usable performance. This car was on loan from a dealership, and it was quite impressive. The graphics are very sporty, but without looking tacky. This is an Aston Martin, after all. I expect the GT will be a strong seller.

6. 1987 Land Rover Defender 110

Few vehicles can claim to be as rugged as a Land Rover, and the Defender 110 is no exception. This particular truck is an ex-military model that served as a radio vehicle. As such, it has relatively low miles and is in very good condition. This vehicle was part of a group of Land Rovers that the military purchased and refurbished with newer parts to lengthen their lifespan. The owner claims it'll do 60 mph, and he's getting a solid 28 mpg. That said, it's a military Land Rover, so I was already smitten the moment I saw it.

5. 1999 Mini Cooper Sports Pack

What's more British than a classic Mini? Well, this one's a 1999 model, so classic may be the wrong term, but it's still a retro cool car. The lovely color, sporty stance, and the Union Jack emblazoned across the roof all make this a standout car. It also is apparently equipped with the 'Sports Pack' for even more driving bliss. The Mini owners came out in force, but this one was arguably the most intriguing. So much so that it snagged a strong fifth place in this countdown.

4. 1937 Jaguar SS100

I doubt I need to justify this car's inclusion in the list. This isn't a Jaguar, it's the Jaguar, the car that really put them on the map. The SS100 was their first real success, which paved the way for legendary models such as the XK120 and E-Type. The SS100 saw success in racing circles, notably the Mille Miglia, which was a big deal in 1937. This car is pure sculpture, and with auction prices hitting seven figures, it's as much art as it is car. The rolling fenders and low windshield are the epitome of 1930's style, and it looks even better today. How this car wound up in Texas I don't know, but it was an incredible machine.

3. 1952 Allard J2X

This is another vehicle you don't come across that often, and with just as much racing pedigree as the SS100 above. The Allard J2X is the ultimate art-deco racecar, and has a strong, if not obscure, following. The design is totally race-inspired, but the white-walls and spare tire are an oddly classy touch. It's the gentleman's racer. This car had been re-engined in the 1960's, and is now motivated by a burly Ford FE V8. Think of it as an odd green Shelby Cobra. I would've killed to hear this car start up, but alas it never did during my time at the event. All the same, I loved seeing it in all of its quirky and wonderful glory.

2. 1959 Peerless GT

There are cars that are rare, and then there are cars that simply shouldn't exist. The Peerless GT falls into the latter category. Built entirely out of fiberglass, the Peerless was ahead of its time. Fiberglass technology was extremely primitive at the time, and so overall build quality left a lot to be desired. Total production was about 325 cars, and the number that actually survived is very few. To see one arrive at the show, under its own power, no less, was simply staggering. It's a car that by all means should be extinct, a footnote in automotive history. The opportunity to see it in person and really examine it was incredible, and not many people get such a chance. This car was without a doubt one of the most jaw-dropping and disbelief-inducing vehicles I've ever seen. It also generated a very big smile, and earned the second-place spot on this list. So what came first?

1. 1969 Aston Martin DBS

Oh my. Just take a second to admire this one. This is a very original 1969 DBS. The badges are getting crusty, the paint isn't what it used to be, and there's a bevy of rock chips and road grime. Time has not been kind to this car. But just look at it! That design is utterly intoxicating. The fastback proportions seem to borrow from the Mustang of the same era, as does the big hood scoop and dual exhaust. But the end result is so clean, so perfectly and elegantly understated and simple. It's endlessly classy, and proudly wears the Aston Martin name. There are more iconic Astons, like the DB5, and more powerful models, such as the Vanquish, but this car does it for me. It speaks to my soul and draws my attention like the proverbial moth to a flame. All those chips and imperfections? That just means somebody is out there enjoying it just as much as me.

1 comment:

  1. Hi James I'm trying to contact you regards the Peerless in your top 10! Could you visit
    And drop us a line. many thanks, Jon Nolan