During the past few months, Royal Mail has been celebrating Britain’s rich motoring heritage with a series of stamps and collectibles featuring many of our motoring icons of yesteryear.
The auto legends are separated into two collections; The Thoroughbreds – which include the Jaguar E-Type, Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, Aston Martin DB5, MG MGB, Morgan Plus 8 and Lotus Esprit, while The Workhorses include a Morris Minor Van, Austin FX4 Taxi, Ford Anglia 105E and the veritable Land Rover Defender 110.
The keen-eyed among you will ask ‘where’s the Mini?’ which seems conspicuous by its absence, otherwise most of our automotive icons from the ’60s and ’70s are present.
Lotus Esprit Series 1 Launch: May 1976 Engine: 2.0-litre (1973cc) Power: 160bhp @6,200rpm Performance: 138mph, 0-60mph: 6.8 secs Price: £7,883
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow Launch: October 1965 Engine: 6.2-litre V8 (6230cc) Power: 200bhp @4,000rpm Performance: 115mph, 0-60mph: 10.9 secs Price: £6,557
While Toyota, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen are responsible for most of the British car industry in 2013, back in the 1950s the UK was responsible for a quarter of the world’s automobile production and half of all vehicle exports.
Search a dictionary for the definition of ‘Bygone Era’ and you’ll find the British Car Industry front and centre, but it’s interesting to note that two of these auto legends are still in production today – the Land Rover Defender 110 and Morgan Plus 8.
The 1990 Defender is the newest of these designs, based on the original Land Rover Series launched in 1948, while the Plus 8 was first made in 1968 and has remained true to form apart from a thorough upgrade to its V8 powertrain (courtesy of BMW) and its chassis, making it the lightest V8 passenger car in the world.
MG MGB Roadster Launch: September 1962 Engine: 1.8-litre (1798cc) Power: 95bhp @5,400rpm Performance: 105mph, 0-60mph: 12.2 secs Price: £949 15s 3d
Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Roadster Launch: March 1961 Engine: 3.8-litre six (3781cc) Power: 265bhp @5,500rpm Performance: 150mph, 0-60mph: 7.0 secs Price: £2,098
But British car marques remain among the most highly coveted in the world, with brands such as Aston Martin celebrating its centenary this year, McLaren celebrating its 50th and Morgan, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley all competing strongly in their sectors.
We’d like to include Lotus in that list, but even without Norfolk’s finest we’ve still witnessed a resurgence in British sports car marques, led by Ginetta, Caterham and Ariel.
Before we get too ‘misty eyed’, we should mention there’s a chance to join in the British Auto Legends celebration and win a weekend behind the wheel of one of these thoroughbred classics.
Morgan Plus 8 Launch: September 1968 Engine: 3.5-litre V8 (3528cc) Power: 184bhp @5,200rpm Performance: 125mph, 0-60mph: 6.7 secs Price: £1,477 18s 4d
Aston Martin DB5 Launch: September 1963 Engine: 4-litre six (3995cc) Power: 242bhp @5,500rpm Performance: 144mph, 0-60mph: 7.4 secs Price: £4,175
To enter, follow the link to www.ifyouhadtopickone.com, choose one of the six cars and select one of your Facebook friends to join you. Then sit back and wait to see if you win.
The competition closes on Monday 16th September, so make sure you enter it soon. You can also buy collectibles based on the stamps by visiting the Royal Mail shop.
So which car would you choose? We’ve opted for the 1963 Aston Martin DB5, as you can probably guess from the title image, but they all looks stunning in the British Auto Legends stamps.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Royal Mail for the First Edition stamp collection and our personally engraved toolbox. The stamps themselves were designed by Why Not Associates with photography by James Mann. All logos belong to their respective brands.