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the 1950s to 1980s, British car manufacturers produced many cars that have
become classics. One well-known example is the Aston Martin line of
prestigious cars. In 1913, Singer distributor Lionel Martin produced achieved
success at the Aston Clinton hill climb, and the Aston Martin name was born.
By the 1930s, Aston Martin was well-respected for manufacturing sports cars,
now owned by race driver A.C. Bertelli.
In the 1960s, the Aston Martin DB5 became well known due to its appearance in
the James Bond films. New models followed, including the DBS V8, the first
Aston Martin to offer a V8 engine. During the 1970s, sales slowed due to
Britain's fuel crisis, increasing again in 1977 with the debut of the 170 mph
AM V8 Vantage. Today, Aston Martin is owned by Ford Motor Company, enjoying
great success through its continued line of fine cars.
Another much-loved British car is the MG, one of the best-known cars produced
in Britain. MG originally stood for Morris Garages, owned by William Morris.
In 1922, Cecil Kimber was named the sales manager at Morris Garages. He
designed sportier bodywork for the existing line of cars from Morris Cars,
including the MG Special four-seater Sports model, and the famous MG badge
debuted around the same time. In 1925, Kimber won the gold medal at the Lands
End Trial motor race.
During the 1930s, MG was very successful in racing, which increased their
sales. However, when the company was sold in 1935, MG ceased its racing
tradition. In 1952 MG merged with Austin to became part of the British Motor
Corporation (BMC). In 1962, one of the most popular sports cars ever built was
born: the MGB. MG is now part of the MG Rover Group.
Any discussion of classic British cars has to mention Jaguar. Founded in 1922
as the Swallow Sidecar Company, which built motorcycle sidecars, the company
produced its first Jaguar car in 1935. In 1945 the company name changed Jaguar
Cars; in 1948, Jaguar introduced its fastest car to that point, the XK 120.
With a top speed of 120 mph, it was powered by a twin overhead camshaft
engine. In the 1950s, Jaguar was very successful in auto racing, and produced
many fast, luxurious cars. In 1961, the E type Jaguar was introduced, probably
one of the most famous cars ever built. Today Jaguar is owned by Tata of India
after a spell of ownership by the Ford Motor Company.
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