Best of British
We're celebrating the best of British this week as the UK prepares to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen's 70 years of service with the Platinum Jubilee. The four-day weekend will see country-wide celebrations and we saw that as a perfect opportunity to look a little closer at some of the best and most unique automotive examples that Great Britain has ever produced.
The United Kingdom has a storied history of car production and, in the 1950s was the largest exporter of cars globally. Despite many leading manufacturers having been acquired in recent years by large umbrella companies, British marques are still some of the most recognisable car brands, regardless of geographical location.
Aston Martin One-77
Aston's foray into the hypercar arena is an unquestionably memorable one. When it was announced in 2009, the One-77 was knocking on the door of Bugatti and Pagani at its cool £1.2 million price point.
Just 77 examples were produced from 2009 to 2012 and each one was made bespoke for the buyer. Despite housing a strained semi-race clutch gearbox, the apoplectic 7.3-litre V12 engine uses its 750-horse strong stable to take you from 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds and continue pulling all the way to a mind-boggling 220mph.
Commanding vast amounts of power that is all sent directly to the rear wheels makes the One-77 not only a real challenge to drive on the limit but also entirely addictive and compelling. The combination of these features is what earned the One-77 its rightful place on our best of British list.
Bentley State Limousine
We couldn't compile this collection without a nod to Queen Elizabeth II herself and one of the vehicles that feature in her collection. In fact, two Bentley State Limousine are at the royal family's disposal and at £10 million each, they are the most expensive car they own by a country mile.
Built to commemorate the last time the country celebrated the Queen's ascension to the throne, the Golden Jubilee 20 years ago, this modern coachbuilt car epitomises luxury and class and is used largely for public engagements.
As is to be expected, the State Limousine comes furnished with myriad safety features including tyres reinforced with Kevlar®, a blast-resistant chassis and an airtight interior to protect from gas attacks.
The BAEVantare GT
The BAEVantare GT. Unequivocably British in its classic styling but with a modern twist. Just 10 of these grand tourers are being hand-built for a select few, offering a truly exclusive automotive experience.
A blend of modern-day performance, safety features and luxury combined with the charm and grace of a 1960s aesthetic make the BAEVantare a one of a kind car and one that oozes class, sophistication and a feeling of innate Britishness.
Under the bonnet, the BAEVantare builds on the Aston Martin DB series' sensational DNA and utilises a naturally aspirated 5.9-litre V12 engine to great effect.
Platinum Jubilee McLaren Artura
McLaren is celebrating the Platinum Jubilee in its own way. The creation of a one-off Artura with a unique "Elizabeth II" badge is the British marque's own homage to the country's longest-serving monarch.
A distinctive platinum paint was also created together with McLaren's advanced coatings partner AkzoNobel, undergoing a lengthy development process to ensure the silver tinge was just right. This new paint will be made available as an option for all McLaren customers in the future.
Other than that, the Artura was left as is. With a hybrid 3-litre turbocharged V6 producing 671hp, there was little else that could be done to improve one of McLaren's finest road-going cars to date.
The Jaguar XJ220 is arguably one of the most iconic British supercars ever made, but it hasn't always been that way, having endured a rocky start to life, to say the least. Without any intention of selling it, Jaguar built a four-wheel drive, V12 supercar that boasted closer ties to on-track technology than most other road cars at the time.
Following a swathe of enquiries to purchase an XJ220, Jaguar began developing the production car. A lack of resources brought early difficulties and before long, four-wheel drive was swapped out for a simpler, lighter rear-wheel drive solution. Similarly, the V12 was replaced with a V6, and with all of these alterations, much of the early interest dried up.
Despite these setbacks, the XJ220 still held the title of the fastest road car around the Nürburgring's Nordschleife as well as recording the fastest speed for a production car for a number of years. And now, it has become something of a cult classic, with its race car-esque appearance from a bygone era and enviable performance even by today's standard, values and interest for this car continue to rise.
We had to mention a few other special examples from the royal collection while we were here.
The Range Rover LWB Landaulet is certainly worth a mention, just for the fact that it's unlike anything else you will ever see. An open-top to accommodate regular waves to the crowds and a royal flag perching neatly at the tip of the bonnet make this a very unique vehicle.
Purchased for a 21st birthday present to Prince Philip, the royal Aston Martin DB6 Volante is about as British as it gets. It's said that the Prince converted it for bioethanol in 2008 and is now powered by wine!