London - Up against sports cars including the Jaguar E-Type in a race, it would be unlikely to take the chequered flag, but when it comes to making an impact, car experts have decided that it’s the little Mini in pole position.
In a list of the 50 best British-built cars, Auto Express magazine’s panel of bosses from the motor industry put the Mini in first place. Put into production in 1959, the car was loved so much that it was barely altered before a new version was released in 2000.
Judge Edmund King, president of the AA, said: "There’s only one choice for the top spot: the Mini. It’s one of the most influential cars ever built, and lasted for decades with the design barely changed."
As well as being a hit on the roads, the Mini has been a star on TV and the big screen too. In the 1969 film The Italian Job, which starred Michael Caine, three Minis – red, white and blue – were used as getaway cars, speeding through the streets of Turin in Italy. And Rowan Atkinson’s hapless Mr Bean famously drove a green Mini with a black bonnet.
While the original Mini took top spot in the list, the later version - released in 2000 - was also in the top 50, taking 18th place.
Just behind the original Mini in second was the Jaguar E-Type, with judge Andy Goss, global sales director at Jaguar Land Rover, saying: "Inevitably the E-Type leads the way; it’s a car that helped define the Sixties. However, the richness of British design can easily be evidenced in the list itself."
The Land Rover Defender - driven by Her Majesty herself - finished third. Another car in the top 10 that will be remembered for its starring role on the big screen was the Aston Martin DB5, which was fourth. Remembered as the car James Bond drove in Goldfinger, it was built between 1963 and 1965.
The car first went on sale for £4248 (then R8496), but a DB5 can now fetch up to £1 million (R16.85 million).
Lotus made two appearances in the top ten, with the Lotus Elise tenth and the Caterham/Lotus Seven in eighth place.