Which car comes to mind when you think classic British car? We’d say a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Morris Minor, a Jensen FF, or even a Lotus Esprit. These are the stylish, most beautiful, and coolest British cars that collectors queue up for, and they come with the right mix of performance and good looks.
But not every British car is something that people would like to collect, just because it’s a classic. Some of these were
lemons, to begin with, and the others could not hold on to their value or appeal because they were not made in enough numbers. On the opposite end, some were made just a tad too much, and the sheer commonality in numbers does not let them become a good collectible.
So here are 10 British classic cars that collectors shy away from, and we give you all the reasons why…
10 Singer Nine Le Mans Special Speed: Steering Issue
The Singer Motor Company made some popular small cars in the early ‘30s and by 1935, they were keen to take on the likes of MG and Riley in motorsport. So they took their 9 horsepower model and built up a sporty version of the same, calling it the “Special Speed.”
Four of the same cars debuted at the 1935 Tourist Trophy race in Northern Ireland. Three of them crashed at the same corner, to the exact spot, because of a design flaw in the steering. While the racers were uninjured, sales expired, and today, not many want a flawed classic British car.
9 Austin Princess: John Lennon Association
The Austin Princess came at the time when Austin was under British Leyland leadership. For some time, after its 1947 debut, the Princess sold well enough, lasting till 1968 in various avatars.
Technically, these were big and somewhat ugly-looking cars, and do not get much love on the classic car market, considering these were not the best of builds. John Lennon owned a Princess Hearse, and it sold for almost $160,000, but that’s the only love this car got.
8 Rolls-Royce Camargue: A Gargantuan Fail
In its 11-year production life, only 531 Camargue models were sold, and that should give you a hint as to why no one wants this classic British car. Introduced in 1975, the Camargue was rather big considering it carried a massive 6.75-liter engine under that ugly hood, costing about $33,500 at that time.
Frankly, the extreme price is also what killed it because the looks simply did not match, despite being designed by car designer Paolo Martin of Pininfarina. This “paving slab” of a classic British car has little takers today.
7 Austin Maestro: A Talking Dashboard
In the history of ill-thought-of classic British cars, the Maestro is the masterstroke. At the onset, it looks like an ordinary compact 5-door hatchback (also a van), that is until you encounter the talking dashboard which was as inept, as it sounds.
The Maestro later also came packaged under the MG marque and remained a badly built, awful car for all its life, with engines that were made in the ‘50s and liked to remain true to their birth decade. It has nothing to offer as a collectible.
6 Reliant Robin: Want A Tummy Rub?
If you have watched the cartoon, Mr. Bean, there’s a three-wheeled car he often ends up nudging with his Mini, and it turns turtle. While that one is a Reliant Regal, we bring to you the Robin, which did not even have to be nudged to roll over.
The Robin will always be remembered as a bad car, the butt of countless jokes because memes were not a thing back then. The single front wheel controlled the steering, and the Robin had all the stability of a Jenga tower when all is about to come crashing down. No one wants a classic British car that begs for a tummy rub, right?
5 Austin Allegro: The Flying Pig
The Austin Allegro was a car that shed its wheels and its rear window as quickly as a lizard sheds its tail. While the wheels would fall off at random, which sounds funny on paper but not, in reality, the rear window would pop out if the car was jacked up in the “wrong place”. As if there’s ever an excuse for it.
Introduced in 1973, the Allegro was a symbol of how the malaise era did not spare the UK as well and was just one of a spate of badly made cars, one that may be old but does not deserve to be called a classic British car at all.
4 Triumph TR7: The “Wedge”
There’s a story about the TR7 and legendary Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. It says that when he first saw the TR7 he walked around it, paused for a moment, and then cried: “My god! They’ve done the same on this side as well.”
That was the cherry on top of the ridicule cake that the TR7 was being served. But it was not just the design that make collectors run away from this classic British car, it was also the downgrade to four-cylinders and the fact that it no longer had an independent rear suspension. The Triumph TR7 was a disaster from the start.
3 Austin Rover 800: Shocking Reliability
Austin and Honda co-developed a car in 1986, which the former sold as the Rover 800 and the latter as the Honda Legend. While the Legend worked fine and was a good car in the affordable category, the Rover 800 was a sheer disaster. The doors did not fit, and the dashboard faded while the owners drove their cars from the dealerships.
It was an utter flop and had to be revised but even then, never reached a stellar run. Why? Because Austin did not deign to listen to Honda and got stuck with a car they did not know what to do with.
2 Austin Mini Metro: A Major Fail
Before it became British Leyland, the British Motor Corporation made some good cars, like the Mini. At the time, it was the perfect little car for the little folk, when Britain was undergoing a major industrial revolution and everyone wanted nifty machines.
But then, later, they brought out the Mini Metro as a replacement, without actually truly developing the car and bringing it into the future. Plus, it rusted even on the days it did not rain, which is a rarity both for a car and for the UK.
1 Morris Marina: Unreliable Ugliness
The Marina was supposed to be the next Morris Minor, only, it was built at a time of utter upheaval in the UK, when factory workers were more on strike than not. So the making of the car was rushed, so much so that out of the 807,000 Marinas ever made and sold, only 100 or so have survived.
The parts were obsolete, and the Marina drove like a fish out of water, with cornering stability reminiscent of jelly. Unless you want a death wish of a car in your garage, this so-called classic British car needs to be given a hard pass.
Sources: Classic.com, Motor1
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