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From 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.