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Popularity Contest – Your Favorite British Sports Car

Last year we asked you to determine the greatest British sports car of all time and after spirited voting the Jaguar E-Type – not unexpectedly – emerged victorious ahead of the Austin-Healey 3000 and Triumph TR6. This time we changed the call of the question: name your favorite British sports car manufactured since the end of World War II.

Responses were even more enthusiastic than before with more than 2000 individual votes spread among 50 nominees. We asked the readers to cast their votes based on their own personal criteria; whether they would consider historical impact, sales success and a competition pedigree was entirely up to them. With so many votes spread across so many candidates early trends emerged – and then faded from the final results. Surprisingly – or not – depending on your point of view, the early returns after the first few days of voting contained not a single MG variant in the Top 10 with the top ranks entirely populated by models from Aston Martin, Healey, Jaguar and Triumph.

The results after the first 72 hours of voting –

  1. Jaguar E-Type
  2. Austin-Healey 100
  3. Aston Martin DB5
  4. Austin Healey 100-6 and 3000
  5. Austin-Healey Sprite
  6. Triumph TR3/3A
  7. Triumph TR5/250
  8. Triumph TR4/4A
  9. Aston Martin DB4
  10. Jaguar XK150

After calling attention to this surprising result in social media, acolytes of the Sacred Octagon began to vote in greater numbers such that all models from Abingdon began to receive higher tallies with the MGA leading the way – we would have expected that ownership figures alone would have pushed the MGB to the top – followed by its successor later down the list. Throughout the voting period the race for the top spot was always between the E-Type and 100, with the two aesthetic nonpareils finding themselves tied for much of the race. What was clear throughout the voting (based on the comments that were received on social media) is that there were two camps in the process. One group cast votes based on the car that they would most like to own while the other based their decision on the vehicle that they actually drove.

Aspirational models from Jaguar and Aston Martin proved popular across the board and rarities like the AC Ace, Healey Silverstone and Jensen Interceptor did particularly well given their sometimes niche awareness among typical enthusiasts. Models generally considered unloved performed better than expected with the Jensen-Healey, TR7 and Stag all managing to stay out of the bottom 5 – spaces held in descending order by the Sunbeam Alpine, Daimler SP250 Dart, Marcos GT, Elva Courier and Jowett Jupiter. The biggest surprise? Likely the poor showing – 31st overall – of the MG TD behind the Healey Silverstone and the MG Midget.

What were the final results?

Honorable Mention – Morgan Plus Four, Sunbeam Tiger, Triumph TR5/250, MGC, Lotus Seven, Aston Martin DB4, Triumph TR6 and Triumph Spitfire.

Tenth Place – MGB (20.8%)

used-1967-mg-mgb-mk1-9423-11739915-5-640

The best selling classic sports car of all time was good for 10th place overall for your favorite

Heading into the balloting we would have expected a better finish for the beloved MGB. One voter in casting his ballot noted that there was a reason they sold so many of them and it was his clear choice for first overall. Familiarity can often breed contempt, but it also can engender affection and the almost ubiquitous B was a strong finisher to reach the bottom of the Top 10.

Ninth Place – TR3/3A (21.3%)

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Never as classically attractive as the 100 and MGA, the TR3’s bulldog character, great performance and solid reliability has won it a devoted following nonetheless

Through the end of the last century the sidescreen TR3 and 3A represented the sine qua non for Triumph enthusiasts with membership in the Vintage Triumph Register restricted to the early cars until the 80s. Today they are still immensely popular for their rugged looks and sterling performance and it was a surprise that these models so handily outpolled the better selling TR6 in the voting. Clearly, the ability to file one’s fingernails while driving proved a draw, as did the bulldog nature of this lovable brute.

Eighth Place – TR4/4A (21.4%)

The Michelotti designed TR4 and TR4A have risen to great popularity in recent years and are sought after now

The Michelotti designed TR4 and TR4A have risen to great popularity in recent years and are sought after now

Appreciation for the Michelotti styled TR4 and TR4A has steadily increased over the past decade and the combination of the durable wet liner engine with the attractive bodywork has resulted in a devoted following for these interim cars. It was somewhat surprising that the TR5 and TR250 finished behind the four-cylinder cars but it was apparent that for many voters that this was their favorite Triumph model.

Seventh Place – GT6 (22.3%)

The surprise of the Top 10, the GT6 has gone from under appreciated GT to a viable alternative to an E-Type or 240Z

The surprise of the Top 10, the GT6 has gone from under appreciated GT to a viable alternative to an E-Type or 240Z

The most surprising vehicle to make the Top 10 has to be the strong placement of the GT6. Not only was it the top among the Triumph models but it was also the lowest seller among the trio to finish in the first rank – excepting the much more expensive DB5. The Michelotti styled coupe that evolved from the Spitfire has become increasingly popular in recent years and despite our shock at this high finish it is clear that the GT6 is becoming eminently more popular among LBC fans than it ever was before.

Sixth Place – Austin-Healey Sprite (24%)

The friendliest face in British motoring

The friendliest face in British motoring

Despite an individual’s marque loyalties, the Sprite was a favorite for many thanks to its enduring character and friendly appearance. Whether in Bugeye or square-bodied form, the Sprite was popular with voters that undoubtedly have fond memories of the littlest Healey. Nostalgia alone does not account for its place on this list, rather the innate goodness of the car has contributed to its legacy as the champion among the low budget alternatives.

Fifth Place – Aston Martin DB5 (26.1%)

The most valuable car on the list and likely the most recognized as well

The most valuable car on the list and likely the most recognized as well

Arguably the most recognized car on the list thanks to its association with Commander James Bond, the DB5 polled as high as third throughout the voting before falling to fifth on the last day. For many, the definitive Aston Martin is also one of the most enduring British sports cars with a following that cuts across all marque loyalties. Priced out of the range of affordability for most enthusiasts, this Newport Pagnell product was most cited as the one to buy from unexpected lottery winnings and we can’t argue with that logic. Built like a bank vault with Ferrari performance levels, the DB5 is undoubtedly an all-time favorite.

Fourth Place – MGA (26.4%)

The prettiest car to ever come out of Abingdon is the highest placed MG on the list

The prettiest car to ever come out of Abingdon is the highest placed MG on the list

That the MGA finished as the top car from Abingdon was not a surprise as it handily beat the MGB and T-Series models to consistently hold the lead amongst the MGs. Few would question its place as the prettiest MG and those good looks and pleasant driving experience won the model plaudits from Triumph and Healey devotees as well. My personal favorite among the MGs – followed by the TC and TF – the MGA represents an era that changed with the debut of the MGB. It had fantastic styling, good performance and bulletproof reliability, all qualities that made it a solid finisher just off the podium.

Third Place – Austin Healey 100-6 and 3000 (28%)

Austin-Healey-3000-6-740x493

The 3000 finished just behind its older sibling while offering better levels of comfort and refinement

In voting for the greatest British sports car of all time, the six-cylinder Big Healey finished just behind the iconic E-Type. In voting for the favorite British sports car the Handsome Brute was good for third place overall. With exceptional styling derived from the earlier 100 and an incomparable exhaust note, the 3000 was a clear favorite among the voters. From the first 100-6 to the last BJ8 there was a model for everyone. Side-curtains and a side shift transmission to roll-up windows and a proper convertible top, two seats and four. The last of the hairy chested British sports cars – along with the TR6 – was a solid winner that deserves its high finish here.

Second Place – Austin-Healey 100 (36%)

On road and track the Austin-Healey 100 is rightly considered an all-time favorite

On road and track the Austin-Healey 100 is rightly considered an all-time favorite

Throughout the voting the race for the top spot was a competition between the original Big Healey and the E-Type with both tied for first for much of the week. With its folding windscreen, lack of door handles and surfeit of torque, the 100 was one of the few cars that could match the Jaguar in both styling and performance. My own personal favorite, the 100 received the most commentary among the voters and it was clear that for many it was a worthy choice for champion – just not enough to unseat what readers last year deemed the greatest of all time.

First Place – Jaguar E-Type (39%)

An enduring symbol of the 60s and every bit the equal of anything from Maranello or Stuttgart

An enduring symbol of the 60s and every bit the equal of anything from Maranello or Stuttgart

That the Jaguar E-Type won titles as both the greatest and favorite British sports car of all time is little surprise. That it had so much competition from the 100 here is what raises eyebrows. Still, in the end, nothing could derail the iconic cat’s march to the top as Henry Manney’s “greatest crumpet collector of all time” remains first in the hearts and minds of British sports car enthusiasts. Both OTS and FHC, the E-Type combined sensual styling and world class performance in equal measure and those qualities have endured into the model’s second half-century of existence. Maybe next year we’ll be able to come up with a question where the E-Type isn’t the obvious answer – but don’t count on it. The winner and still champion – The Jaguar E-Type.

Here’s the complete list:

  1. Jaguar E-Type
  2. Austin-Healey 100
  3. Austin-Healey 100-6 and 3000
  4. MGA
  5. Aston Martin DB5
  6. Austin-Healey Sprite
  7. Triumph GT6
  8. Triumph TR4/4A
  9. Triumph TR3/3A
  10. MGB
  11. Morgan Plus Four
  12. Triumph TR5/TR250
  13. Sunbeam Tiger
  14. MGC
  15. Lotus Seven
  16. Aston Martin DB4
  17. Triumph TR6
  18. Triumph Spitfire
  19. Lotus Elan
  20. Jaguar XK150
  21. Jaguar XK120
  22. Lotus Elite
  23. MG TC
  24. Triumph TR2
  25. AC Ace
  26. Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mk III
  27. MGB GT
  28. MG Midget
  29. MG TF
  30. Healey Silverstone
  31. MG TD
  32. Jensen Interceptor
  33. Jaguar XK140
  34. Triumph TR7
  35. Aston Martin DB6
  36. Aston Martin DBS
  37. Arnolt-Bristol
  38. Allard J2X
  39. Triumph Herald and Vitesse
  40. Triumph TR8
  41. Triumph Stag
  42. Sunbeam Alpine Sports
  43. Jensen-Healey
  44. AC Aceca
  45. Sunbeam Alpine
  46. Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica
  47. Daimler SP250 Dart
  48. Marcos GT
  49. Elva Courier
  50. Jowett Jupiter

 

 

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'Popularity Contest – Your Favorite British Sports Car' have 9 comments

  1. July 2, 2015 @ 11:55 am Bill

    The GT6 isn’t half the car that the TR6 was. The GT6 had rotoflex couplings on the axles that would always break and a cabin that made summer driving prohibitive. It shouldn’t even be on this list because it’s not EVEN a convertible, which is how they SHOULD have made it. They should have never made the GT6.

    Reply

    • July 8, 2015 @ 1:37 pm nikasj

      I agree that the cabin a GT6 can be warm during the summer months and that a 6-cylinder Spitfire would have resulted in an even better car than the smaller engined version. That said, the GT6 is a lovely small touring car that is evocative of the larger E-Type and offers performance that puts many of its market competitors to shame. The quality of suspension components have improved over time and now it seems the market has really started to catch on to Triumph’s GT with values increasing steadily. The exhaust note is as good as it gets and the comfortable cabin is no worse in terms of heat production than a contemporary E-TYpe and much better than a pre-BJ8 Big Healey. Find one and drive it, you might be surprised with how you feel afterwards.

      Reply

    • August 6, 2015 @ 5:49 am Ethel Leon

      I am so surprised that the TR6 wasn’t included or voted, I guess everyone realized too late about this contest, just like me right now….. Definitely the 1969 TR6 is an awesome car!

      Reply

    • August 27, 2017 @ 2:49 pm Denis

      having a gt6 is great , and they are fun to drive,,,
      yes jealousy is not a good thing,,,
      spitfire I had was fun , but the GT^ is better,,,,
      sorry you are bitter,,, but that is one opinion,,, the GT6 shows how popular it is, great looks and fun drive,,,,

      Reply

  2. July 7, 2015 @ 4:14 pm Rebecca

    The 1957 smallmouth TR3 with all synchro trans and overdrive hands-down offers the most bang for my buck when it comes to reliability and performance, and is by far the easiest to own and maintain of all 50 listed. Of course I’m a bit biased, I’ve owned my 1957 TR3 for 8 years and it has been a pleasure beyond compare on road trips, easy on my pocket book, and I never tire of its handsome good looks. And that’s saying something as I’ve owned dozens of cars in nearly 50 years of driving including English, Italian, and German, but this car has really earned its keep and completely won my heart. I’m privileged to have it in my garage.

    Reply

    • July 8, 2015 @ 1:40 pm nikasj

      I agree that the small-mouth 3 is my favorite of the widescreen TRs. Much more practical and better performing than the earlier TR2, the disc-brake equipped cars are fine examples of the early Triumphs. I’m partial to the Michelotti-bodied cars for styling but I also have owned a TR3 with no real complaints beyond fact that the weather gear does not lend itself to protection in sudden downpours as easily as the tops in the 4A and 250 do. Still, I love a 57 TR3 and it’s easily one of the best cars Britain has produced. Among the Italians, Germans and other Brits, what have you had?

      Reply

    • July 27, 2015 @ 1:17 pm John Tuleibitz

      Just one little problem. The 57 TR3 did not have an all synchro transmission. First and reverse were definitely unsyncronized. That’s why I learned to always tap second gear go slow the box down a bit before hoping for dither of those gears.

      Reply

      • July 29, 2015 @ 4:39 pm nikasj

        You’re absolutely right, the full synchro box would not appear until the 4 and 3B. Is there an error in the article?

        Reply

  3. October 2, 2015 @ 6:35 pm J. Bellinger

    My vote would have gone to a Sunbeam Talbot Alpine (such class!) hotrodded with a Triumph 6 and a Moss supercharger and a good 5 speed, in baby blue, with buckskin interior and a MotoLita laminated 16 inch 4 spoke. Just sayin’, as they say.

    Reply


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