The CAR Top 10: British cars to die before you drive, CAR+ September 2015

Published: 01 July 2015

As this issue proves, the UK has a marvellous motoring pedigree. Absolutely none of which is featured here…

1) Austin Allegro

Austin Allegro

No list of the UK’s untouchables would be complete without the Allegro. Svelte as an Edwardian cook, so unreliable even Lindsay Lohan would beat it in a JD Power ranking and as engaging to drive as the Google car. And don’t get us started on the Quartic steering wheel…

2) Austin 1800

Austin 1800

Monster mini, nicknamed the Landcrab, scuttled its way to various top 10 finishes on the international rally circuit, including the Acropolis rally. But you needed the upper body strength of an ancient Greek Olympian to twist steering that was heavier than an Atlas stone and lower geared than a rock-crawling Jeep Wrangler.

3) Rover City Rover

Rover Cityrover

By 2003 MG Rover was all too aware that it hadn’t delivered a proper turd in some time and both the public and CAR’s GBU editor were growing impatient. Salvation came in the shape of the Indian-built Tata Indicar, whose pokey performance was overshadowed by a cabin ambience reminiscent of the toilet from Trainspotting.

4) Bristol 412

Bristol 412

Hiring Zagato to draw your new car in the ’60s and ’70s was like signing Ridley Scott to direct your new Hollywood picture: as likely to end in disaster as triumph. You might get a DB4 GT; or you might end up with something that looks like a neolithic monobrowed ancestor of a Mk2 Granada with a door handle so low you have to kneel down to reach it.

5) Rubber-bumper MGB

MGB with rubber bumpers

We can see the appeal of an earlier B to a mid-’60s cad, all shiny chrome trim and vinyl seats guaranteed to overheat the ladies on a summer’s day. But by the late ’70s, 13sec to 60mph was 4sec off the pace of one of those new fangled GTis and the blubber bumper’s jacked-up crossover stance killed the looks and handling.

6) Bond Bug

Bond Bug

Featuring the guts of Del Boy’s Reliant Regal van disguised as a wedge of Red Leicester, the Bond Bug was one of those ideas that seemed hilarious over a pint but probably seems less so when you’re being overtaken by guffawing kids scootering to school on the adjacent pavement.

7) Mini 5dr

Mini 5dr

Hardly the worst British car of all time, but certainly one of the ugliest, the bustle-bum Mini takes some stylistic inspiration from the Austin 1800, then adds a bit of Charles Laughton for good measure. One look at this mutant and we vowed never to complain about cookie-cutter Audis ever again.

8) Triumph TR7

Triumph TR7

Which is worst, the TR7 or its Stag sister? One was so lethargic it couldn’t work up a head of steam, the other’s V8 boiled like a kettle on hell’s own hob at the slightest provocation. We’ll go for the TR7, a rival to Fiat’s X1/9 that was immeasurably less interesting, uglier and even less reliable.

9) Delorean DMC-12

Delorean DMC-12

Forget those Back to the Future fantasies, the real DeLorean was a botch job thrown together by a workforce that didn’t have the necessary skill, needed an eternity to reach 88mph and its ‘trick’ stainless body was actually just a set of mass-adding panels over a conventional fibreglass shell.

10) Morris Marina

Morris Marina

While fellow BL machine the Austin 1300 featured front drive and independent springing all round, this penny-pinching, lowest common denominator dross made do with ancient suspension from the Minor. Mysteriously, it did extremely well in the sales charts. But then so did Shaddap You Face by Joe Dolce.

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker