Widely considered to be the archetype of modern sports cars, the MGA took four years to go into production after it was designed. It was offered in convertible or coupe versions, both of which were powered by a 1.5-liter, 68 horsepower engine. Although it wasn’t terribly fast, it was real good fun to drive. The car was very popular during its seven-year production run, with over 101,000 of them being sold around the world.
The successor to the MGA, the MGB actually retained much of the mechanics from its predecessor, wrapping them in a more modern, safer body – it was one of the first cars ever to have crumple zones designed into its bodywork for additional occupant safety. It was also significantly faster than the MGA, and there was even a V8 model, known as the MGB GT V8, which was offered as of 1973. The MGB was in production between 1962 and 1980.
3. Austin Healey Sprite
The Healey Sprite, affectionately known as the Bugeye Sprite in the United States due to its bulging headlights, was introduced in 1958. It had a tiny 1.0-liter engine with just 43 horsepower when production started, and featured other quirks, such as the fact that you had to reach inside of the doors to open them, or fold down its seats to get to the spare tire. The Healey Sprite was produced until 1971.
4. Morgan 4/4
As odd as it sounds, the 4/4 was the first four-wheeled car produced by Morgan. What’s even stranger is that it has been in continuous, low-volume production for almost 80 years now – truly remarkable. There have been numerous variants of the model over the years, however the current one is powered by a 1.6-liter Ford engine. Between 3,000 and 4,000 4/4s have been made in this incredibly long production run.
5. Triumph Spitfire
The Spitfire is based on a design by one of the most prolific sports car designers of the 20th Century – Giovanni Michelotti. It came into being after Triumph’s management took note of the Austin Healey’s success and wanted to rival it. However, the Spitfire didn’t go on sale until Triumph was taken over by British Leyland, which then hurried the car into production. The Spitfire was on sale between 1962 and 1980.
6. Jaguar XK-120
The XK-120 is said to have been dreamed up by Jaguar lead designer and founder, Sir William Lyons, in just a single night. It caused such a stir when it was shown as a concept car in 1948 that it was put into production, making it the fastest production car in the world. The 120 in the name referred to the car’s top speed – over 120mph thanks to a 3.4-liter engine. Production ended in 1954.
7. Lotus Seven
This amazing little sports car is the quintessential track day car and it’s still being made today, although it is now manufactured by Caterham Cars and is called the Caterham Seven. It first went on sale in 1957 and was sold both as a whole car and a kit car by Lotus until 1972. In 1973, the company sold the rights to the car to Caterham, which has produced many different versions of the original Lotus.
8. Austin Healey 3000
Differentiating it from the Healey Sprite earlier in this list, the Healey 3000 was a different league of car to its little brother due to its sizable 3-liter engine and 115mph top speed. It even featured a dual carburetor setup and disc brakes as standard equipment. It was also referred to as a “Big Healey” to set it apart from the lesser Healey Sprite model. It was in production between 1959 and 1967.
9. TVR Griffith
A much-loved roadster, the Griffith was produced between 1991 and 2002. Early versions of the car had 4.0-liter engines, while later versions had 5.0-liter engines. It weighed a mere 2,300 pounds, meaning all models were capable of reaching 60mph in less than five seconds. Only about 2,000 Griffiths were ever made, meaning that finding one and buying one in the present day is no easy feat.
10. Lotus Elan
While there are numerous Lotus models that deserve being called one of the best British sports cars, the Elan was significant because it was the first model from Lotus to employ a steel backbone chassis in combination with a lightweight fiberglass body. These design features made it incredibly reactive to the driver, and almost 50 years after it went on sale, it’s still widely considered to be one of the best cars to handle.
11. Jaguar E-Type
This beauty was one of the fastest production cars in the world when it was introduced in 1961, capable of over 150mph, but it’s probably even more well-known for its beauty - it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made. It was also relatively affordable compared to rival sports cars from the likes of Ferrari, making it arguably the most desirable car of its time. In fact, Jaguar made over 71,000 of them during its 13-year production run.
12. Aston Martin DB5
The DB5 became synonymous with James Bond after it appeared in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. This appearance catapulted the car into fame. Just over 1,000 DB5s were built in a short, two-year production run between 1963 and 1965. Of these, 123 were convertibles. A miniscule 65 coupes and 12 convertibles were fitted with a 315 horsepower Vantage engine, making them incredibly rare versions of this legendary car.