The 20 best car names ever

The 20 best car names ever

The 20 best car names everOh no, it’s another one of those ‘best of’ lists. But hear us out, because we’re diving deep into the world of car names, and specifically the greatest names of all-time.

We’ve selected 20 of the best and have included the Oxford English Dictionary definition for the majority of our choices. What’s in a name? It’s time to find out…

Ford ThunderbirdThe 20 best car names ever

If Jeremy Clarkson is to be believed, this is the greatest car name of all time. In one of his books, he said: “The trouble is that most of the best words have already been used by the Americans. Surely, the best name of them is ‘Thunderbird’, which says it all. Roll up at a party, announce that you have a Thunderbird and when you go, all the best-looking girls will go too.”

Ford had considered over 5,000 names before settling on Thunderbird, with a young stylist, Alden ‘Gib’ Giberson credited for the spark of inspiration. He had once lived in the southwest of America, where the legend of the Thunderbird was well-known. For this troubles, Giberson claimed a reward of $95 and a pair of trousers from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Mercury MarauderThe 20 best car names ever

“Marauder.” Noun, “A person who marauds; a raider.”

The Marauder name dates back to the late 1950s, when Ford introduced a range of V8 engines for the Mercury, Edsel and Lincoln brands. There was even a Super Marauder, complete with a trio of two-barrel carburetors and an output of 400hp. The Marauder became a Mercury model in its own right in the 1960s, culminating with the 302hp ‘hot rod’ of the new millennium, pitched directly at the Chevrolet Impala SS. With a Mustang Mach 1 heart, it was befitting of the Marauder name.

Ford MustangThe 20 best car names ever

“Mustang.” noun, “An American feral horse which is typically small and lightly built.”

It’s arguably one of the most famous car names in the world and one of a select few known only by its ‘surname’. Nobody’s 100% sure why the Mustang name was chosen. Was it a tribute to the P-51 fighter aircraft of WWII, a reference to that American feral horse, or even a nod to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs football team? Although the last theory is unlikely, one thing’s for sure: Ford nailed this one.

Plymouth BarracudaThe 20 best car names ever

“Barracuda.” Noun, “A large predatory tropical marine fish with a slender body and large jaws and teeth.”

John ‘Dick’ Samsen is known for his work on the original Ford Thunderbird and Plymouth Barracuda, and was indeed instrumental in the naming of the ‘Cuda. Speaking about the car’s development, he said: “The Plymouth Division came up with the name ‘Panda’ for the car, and when we designers made a fuss, told us to suggest names. My list of names included ‘Barracuda’, and it was chosen.” In 2015, Fiat Chrysler filed a trademark for the Barracuda name.

Dodge ChallengerThe 20 best car names ever

“Challenger.” Noun, “A person who engages in a contest.”

The Challenger name is intrinsically linked to Dodge’s answer to the Mustang and Camaro, but its origins date back to 1959 and the launch of the Silver Challenger. This special edition was based on the Dodge Coronet and arrived a decade before the more famous Challenger. In the meantime, Studebaker had launched its own Challenger, but the future belonged to Dodge. A starring role in ‘Vanishing Point’ played a pivotal role in cementing the legendary status of the name. “There goes the Challenger, being chased by the blue, blue meanies on wheels…”

Dodge ChargerThe 20 best car names ever

“Charger.” Noun, “A horse ridden by a knight or cavalryman.”

The Charger name made its debut on the 1964 Polara-based concept car, before being introduced as a nameplate on the first-generation Charger of 1966. The second-generation model, launched in 1969, laid the foundations for the creation of an American icon, before interest was renewed with the arrival of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ in 1979. The ‘General Lee’ became the most famous Charger in the world.

Dodge RampageThe 20 best car names ever

“Rampage.” Noun, “A period of violent and uncontrollable behaviour by a group of people.”

Barbarian, Invincible, Warrior, Titan, Blade, Raptor: just half a dozen examples of terribly muscular names given to pick-up trucks. But all of these are mere pansies compared to the might and majesty of the Dodge Rampage. The 1980s pick-up was also badged as the Plymouth Scamp, which doesn’t have the same amount of muscle. The Rampage name was resurrected for a 2006 concept, complete with a 5.7-litre Hemi engine.

Dodge/Chrysler ViperThe 20 best car names ever

“Viper.” Noun, “A venomous snake with large hinged fangs, typically having a broad head and stout body, with dark patterns on a lighter background.”

The Dodge Viper first appeared as a concept car in 1989, before making its production debut in 1992. Bob Lutz, then of the Chrysler Corporation, made no secret of his love of the Shelby Cobra, so it was no coincidence what this V10-engined sports car was named after a venomous snake. With letters and deposits pouring into Chrysler, Lutz assembled a team tasked with making the concept car a reality. They worked in room named ‘the snake pit’. How appropriate.

Jensen InterceptorThe 20 best car names ever

“Interceptor.” Noun, “A fast aircraft for stopping or repelling hostile aircraft.”

Enough of this American love-in, it’s time to give some credit to a selection of cars on the other side of the Atlantic. We’ll return to Clarkson for a moment, who is clearly torn on the subject of the best car name. Of the Interceptor, he said: “It’s the coolest name ever given to a car. ‘I’ll pick you up at eight. I’ll be in the Interceptor.’ Imagine being able to say that. Or even: ‘Darling. About tonight. Shall we take the Interceptor?’ It sends a shiver down your spine. Maserati is a good name. Thunderbird is even better. But the Interceptor? That’s the best of them all.”

Gilbern InvaderThe 20 best car names ever

“Invader.” Noun, “A person or group that invades a country, region, or other place.”

Giles Smith and Bernard Friese founded the Welsh carmaker Gilbern, each lending the first part of their forename to create the company name. A pretty cool approach, which puts us in mind of TVR and TreVorR Wilkinson. The Invader, which arrived in 1969, is probably one of the greatest car names in the world. Not bad for a small car company from Pontypridd.

Hillman AvengerThe 20 best car names ever

“Avenge.” Verb, “Inflict harm in return for (an injury or wrong done to oneself or another).”

Depending on your age, The Avengers will either conjure up images of Marvel Comics superheroes or a 1960s spy show. Scarlett Johansson or Diana Rigg? Whatever, the Avenger is one of the greatest car names ever to grace a bootlid. Or is it? Given the dictionary definition, is Avenger a suitable name for a family car? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Bristol FighterThe 20 best car names ever

“Fighter.” Noun, “A person or animal that fights,” or “A fast military aircraft designed for attacking other aircraft.”

Given Bristol’s aerospace heritage, it’s no surprise to find a catalogue of aeronautical-inspired names in its back-catalogue. The Bristol F2b Fighter was a First World War reconnaissance and fighter aircraft, but also a sports car unveiled in 2004. This gullwing coupe was powered by the same V10 found in the Viper and fewer than a dozen were ever built.

Lancia StratosThe 20 best car names ever

The Stratos name first appeared on the Bertone-styled Stratos Zero of 1970, before appearing on the Lancia Stratos HF in 1973.

In Greek, ‘stratos’ means ‘army’, and is also the name of an ancient Greek city. To some, it conjures up images of something you’d splash all over. But whatever, it just happens to be the name of one of the greatest rally cars of the 1970s.

Triumph SpitfireThe 20 best car names ever

“Spitfire.” Proper noun, “A single-seat, single-engined British fighter aircraft of the Second World War, designed by Reginald Mitchell and produced by the Supermarine company. It is particularly remembered for its role in the Battle of Britain.”

Choosing to name your sports car after one of the nation’s best-loved aircraft was an inspired move by Triumph, although we’re not sure it would have been quite so well received in Germany. “Der Spitfire ist das ideale Fahrzeug für das Fahren zu zweit,” said the press ad, which, roughly translated, means: “The Spitfire is the ideal vehicle for driving in pairs.” That’s quite a selling point.

Mercedes-Benz 300 E AMG HammerThe 20 best car names ever

“Hammer.” Noun, “A tool with a heavy metal head mounted at right angles at the end of a handle, used for jobs such as breaking things and driving in nails.”

In 1986, AMG inserted a 5.0-litre V8 into an E-Class coupe and created ‘The Hammer’. In a stroke, the AMG name was thrust onto the world stage, most notably in the US, where it is viewed as the genesis of Mercedes-AMG.

Aston Martin VanquishThe 20 best car names ever

“Vanquish.” Verb, “Defeat thoroughly.”

Developed from the 1998 Project Vantage concept car, the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish entered production in 2001. A year later it starred in ‘Die Another Day’, in which it was introduced as the Aston Martin ‘Vanish’. Not the greatest Bond movie, but the Vanquish is one of the greatest car names.

AC CobraThe 20 best car names ever

“Cobra.” Noun, “A highly venomous African or Asian snake that spreads the skin of its neck into a hood when disturbed.”

Thanks to Carroll Shelby, the AC Cobra was created when a Ford V8 engine was shoehorned into the AC Ace roadster. ‘Cobra’ was a wonderfully apt name for these super-powerful roadsters, which were renowned for their brutish performance and hard-to-tame handling characteristics.

Citroen DSThe 20 best car names ever

“Goddess.” Noun, “A woman who is greatly admired, especially for her beauty.”

To make sense of the DS name, you must channel your inner Officer Crabtree from ‘Allo ‘Allo’. You see, DS is pronounced in French as ‘Déesse’, or ‘Goddess’ in English. A suitably understated approach for one of the most technologically advanced and beautiful cars of the 20th century.

Maserati KhamsinThe 20 best car names ever

“Khamsin.” Noun, “An oppressive, hot southerly or south-easterly wind blowing in Egypt in spring.”

Maserati has a history of naming cars after winds. Ghibli, Bora, Mistral, Karif and Shamal, to name but five. Choosing the best is tricky, but we’ve selected the Khamsin. It helps that Alfieri Maserati was born with such an evocative sounding surname.

De Tomaso PanteraThe 20 best car names ever

Speaking of evocative surnames, ‘Alejandro de Tomaso’ isn’t half bad. Born in Argentina, de Tomaso founded the De Tomaso car company in Modena, Italy. Some of the car names were inspired: Mangusta, Longchamp and Deauville. But the best of the lot was Pantera, which is Italian for Panther.

These are our favourite car names of all-time, what are yours?

McLaren and BMW will work together on engines of the future

McLaren and BMW will work together on engines of the future

McLaren and BMW will work together on engines of the future

British supercar manufacturer McLaren has announced plans to work with BMW to develop its next generation of powertrains.

In a statement, McLaren said “the project will develop new combustion technology that will deliver a higher output per capacity than currently possible.”

The new engines will be more efficient, with lower CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy, despite higher headline power figures. The obvious way of doing this is to follow the hybrid route set by the P1.

McLaren has previously revealed that it plans to offer at least half of its cars with hybrid powertrains by 2022.

“This is an exciting project that plays to the strengths of all partners,” said McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt.

“McLaren Automotive has an exceptional reputation for building the world’s finest engines, as showcased by our M838T and its previous category wins in the International Engine of the Year awards.

“We will continue to independently design and build our own engines, and the benefits of this project will help us accelerate the development of our next generation of powertrains, as confirmed in our recently-announced Track22 business plan.”

The collaboration has been supported and part-funded by the UK government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). In total, the project will cost £28 million, with half of that coming from the APC.

Details of what exactly BMW and McLaren are planning are being kept quiet, but McLaren says it will improve the UK’s development and production capabilities of low-CO2 internal combustion engines.

The project, led by McLaren, will involve its existing engine manufacturing partner, Ricardo, as well as various suppliers including Lentus Composites and Grainger & Worrall.

The University of Bath will also be contributing to the research and development of the future powertrains.

2017 Honda Civic review: Type R attitude for Volkswagen Golf money

2017 Honda Civic review: Type R attitude for Volkswagen Golf money

The 2017 Honda Civic is entirely new – and all the better for it. But should you buy one over a Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra?

Volkswagen is now the biggest carmaker in the world

Volkswagen is now the biggest carmaker in the world

Volkswagen is now the biggest carmaker in the world

Volkswagen Group has overtaken Toyota to become the world’s biggest car manufacturer – the first time in four years the German company has taken the number one spot.

Dieselgate-shamed Volkswagen produced 10.3 million cars last year, compared to Toyota’s 10.175 million.

VW’s total output is split across multiple brands, including SEAT, Skoda, Audi and Porsche. The firm says its 3.8% sales boost in 2016 was buoyed by increased demand in China.

Registrations increased by more than 12% in China – where the 2015 emissions scandal hasn’t had an effect, with most models sold there powered by petrol engines.

As well as China, the company has continued to do well in markets around the world. Last year, the Volkswagen Golf was the fourth best-selling car in the UK, while it knocked the Volvo V70 off the top spot in Sweden.

Toyota saw its sales grow by a meagre 0.2% – something it’s put down to a slowdown in the US car market, but could also be attributed to declining interest in its flagship Camry saloon.

The Japanese manufacturer is shrugging off being knocked off pole position, saying it isn’t focused on ‘chasing volume’.

In a statement, Toyota said: “We believe that our sales volume is just the result of our focus on making ever-better cars and providing better customer experiences.

“Our goal is to be number one with consumers by engineering and producing ever-better cars. We are grateful to every customer who has chosen a Toyota vehicle.”

General Motors, which owns Vauxhall, Opel, Chevrolet and others, is yet to reveal its 2016 sales figures – but they’re expected to lag behind Toyota and Volkswagen. The US giant was the world’s best-selling car manufacturer for more than seven decades until Toyota overtook it in 2008.

Perfect Porsche collection up for sale

Perfect Porsche collection up for sale

Perfect Porsche collection up for salePorsche collectors, take note. RM Sotheby’s Paris sale on 8 February includes an incredible collection of Swiss Porsches – from a classic 356 Speedster to a special edition 991 Carrera S. The auction is part of Retromobile show week, one of the highlights of the classic car calendar. A 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder was Sotheby’s star lot last year, selling for €2.7million.

1986 Porsche 930 Turbo FlachbauPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £85,000 – £110,000

Let’s kick off our 2016 round-up with this fabulous 930 Turbo – one of just 948 Flachbau (flat-nose) cars made. We love the period purple paint and red leather interior, although the walnut dashboard jars a little.

The Flachbau’s signature pop-up headlights were apparently inspired by Porsche’s Type 935 racer. A 300hp 3.3-litre flat-six behind the rear axle keeps lucky drivers firmly on their toes.

1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1600 SpeedsterPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £255,000 – £340,000

Ironically, the Speedster was conceived as a cheaper entry-point into Porsche’s 356 line-up – yet these back-to-basics roadsters are the most valuable 356s today. The car’s looks take most of the credit: it’s lean, low-slung and simply stunning.

This particular 356 has the larger 1.6-litre ‘Super’ engine, which produces a heady 75hp. The Speedster was a big hit in the US – and proved its worth in hillclimbs and circuit racing, too.

1988 Porsche 959 SportPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £1,250,000 – £1,700,000

From one icon to another: the 959 was launched in 1986 and was Porsche’s first hypercar. It was vastly more advanced than the rival Ferrari F40, with adaptive four-wheel drive and ‘zero-lift’ aerodynamics.

Out of 284 Porsche 959s, just 29 were built to Sport spec – as here. The 959 S had a leather-wrapped rollcage and four-point racing harnesses instead of seatbelts. It was fitted with more conventional coilover suspension and stripped of air conditioning and a stereo.

1970 Porsche 914/6Perfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £34,000 – £51,000

Prefer something without a six-figure price tag? How about this Porsche 914/6? This mid-engined, six-cylinder roadster was nearly expensive as a 911 when new and is a rare sight today.

The 914 was jointly developed with Volkswagen. It was the entry-level car in Porsche’s 1970 range, but still boasted independent front and rear suspension, and disc brakes all-round. This car has the iconic Fuchs alloy wheels, too.

2014 Porsche 911 Carrera S Martini Racing EditionPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £127,000 – £153,000

Yes, it’s basically just a new 991 Carrera S with some stickers. But when said stickers are the celebrated Martini Racing livery, and this is one of just 80 such examples made, Porsche collectors are bound to sit up and take notice.

This 911 has just 90 miles on the clock and is described by RM Sotheby’s as ‘in virtually as-new condition throughout’. Standard kit on all Martini Racing Editions includes an Aerokit Cup bodykit, the Sport Chrono package, PCM navigation, a Bose stereo and electric seats.

1993 Porsche 928 GTSPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £43,000 – £60,000

Back in 1978, Porsche hoped its new 928 would replace the ageing 911. Four decades later, the 911 is still with us and this large, front-engined GT is a footnote in automotive history. This 928 GTS won’t be for everyone, but it’s one of the most affordable Porsches in the auction.

The GTS was last-hurrah for the 928, with a 350hp V8 and beefed-up brakes. This car has a five-speed automatic gearbox – well-suited to the 928’s laid-back demeanour – plus white leather trim and lightweight ‘Cup’ alloy wheels.

1976 Porsche 912 EPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £17,000 – £26,000

Think this 911 seems cheap? That’s because it’s a 912 – a budget, four-cylinder Porsche built from 1965 to 1969. The 912 easily outsold its bigger brother, but was soon replaced by the VW-Porsche 914.

Most 912s had 1.6-litre engines, which makes this 2.0-litre 912 E especially desirable. The 90hp E was only produced for one year and boasted a top speed of 115mph. Not quite 911 performance, then – but it certainly looks the part.

2000 Porsche 911 GT3 ClubsportPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £85,000 – £111,000

Now we’re talking. The first time Porsche used its now-iconic GT3 nameplate was on the ‘996’ 911, built from 1998 to 2005. The GT3 blurred the boundaries between road and race car, with a high-revving, naturally-aspirated engine and few creature comforts.

This 5,000-mile GT3 has the optional Clubsport pack, which includes a rollcage, hard-shell bucket seats and a single-mass flywheel. And, unlike the current 991 GT3, it has a manual gearbox. A rapier-sharp track-day weapon.

1981 Porsche 924 Carrera GTPerfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £60,000 – £77,000

Like the GT3, the 924 Carrera GT was born out of Porsche’s desire to go racing. A wide-body development of the 924 Turbo, its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine developed 210hp – or up to 380hp in race trim.

This silver Carrera GT has covered just under 50,000 miles and has been restored to its original specification. It’s one of just 406 cars built to meet Group 4 homologation rules.

1994 Porsche 911 Turbo S 3.6Perfect Porsche collection up for sale

Estimate: £553,000 – £639,000

We finish with one of the coolest-looking 911s ever: the brutish 964 Turbo. This car is highly collectible, being one of just 93 3.6-litre cars built to Turbo S spec – and only 17 without the ‘Flachbau’ flat nose. No wonder it’s second only to 959 in terms of predicted value.

The full-fat Turbo S has a ZF locking differential and has 385 wild horses at its rear wheels. RM Sotheby’s reports this car ‘once belonged to a professional baseball player’. It has covered just 14,000 miles in the past 23 years.

Richard Hammond Citroen Saxo VTS

Richard Hammond has bought a Citroen Saxo VTS – and we’re jealous

Richard Hammond Citroen Saxo VTS

If the current episode of The Grand Tour is anything to go by, Richard Hammond is about to nip out and steal a chainsaw… in a Citroen Saxo VTS.

According to Amazon Prime’s clever X-Ray feature – which provides extra information about what you’re watching on screen – Hammond loves the Saxo VTS so much that, after the show was filmed, he went out and bought one. The lucky so-and-so.

During ‘Conversation Street’, the presenters were charting the rapid fall in numbers of Citroen’s hot hatch, which had dropped from around 4,500 in 2008 to 491 when the episode was filmed. We’ve just checked the latest figures, and they show that the number on the road has now fallen to 464 –with 946 declared as off the road.

Fabulous, proper and fizzy

“By 2019 they’ll all have gone,” said the ‘Hamster’, which was enough to see him off to the classifieds in an attempt to save the “fabulous, proper, fizzy little hatchback” from extinction. Good man.

That he loves the Citroen Saxo VTS so much should come as no surprise. In his days as a presenter on Men & Motors, Hammond pitched the French tearaway against a Caterham Super 7 Sprint, before driving home in the Citroen.

Weirdly, in a different episode, former radio presenter and drag racer, Dave Lee Travis – aka the ‘Hairy Cornflake’ – proclaimed the Saxo VTS to be “the closest you can get to an old-school GTI”. High praise indeed.

Later, in 2008, Hammond named the Saxo VTS as one of the ‘best second-hand boy-racer bargains’, saying it’s “another belter from Les Francais. The Saxo VTS is virtually a cult car among the young and to see why, you only need to drive one.

“It looks cute, with reasonable performance and good handling.”

This isn’t the first time Richard Hammond has bought a Saxo VTS. In series 18 of Top Gear, he paid £550 for a 1999 model and went racing against Clarkson and May. Sadly, the car’s MOT expired in 2012, so we can only assume that it has gone to the great rallycross track in the sky.

The Price is right

The hot Saxo’s fall from grace is hardly surprising. The Saxo VTS, with its 120hp 1.6-litre 16v engine, developed a bit of an image problem: a kind of hot Nova for a new generation. Lads believed that a Saxo VTS and a pumping stereo was the key to getting a girl undressed.

Citroen didn’t help matters when it asked Katie Price, AKA Jordan, to perch on the bonnet of its four-wheeled bra remover.

Citroen Saxo VTS and Jordan

It meant that – for all of its qualities as a typically French hot hatch – polite, gentle folk stayed away from the Saxo VTS, allowing it to spiral into the abyss. On the flip-side, this means values are stupidly low, so you needn’t spend more than £1,000 to secure a good one.

Compare and contrast with the values of other French heroes – most notably the Peugeot 205 GTi, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Peugeot 106 Rallye – and the Saxo VTS looks a bit of a bargain. Prices won’t stay this low forever.

Take a leaf out of Hammond’s book: rescue a Citroen Saxo VTS today. You won’t regret it. Just don’t let a girl called Katie sit on the bonnet.

Retro Road Test: SEAT Leon Cupra R

SEAT Leon Cupra R review: Retro Road Test

Retro Road Test: SEAT Leon Cupra R

It says a lot about how much the hot hatch segment has changed that the 2010 SEAT Leon Cupra R is considered ‘retro’ just four years after production ended. Sharing its engine with the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3, the Cupra R was one of the most powerful hot hatches money could buy back then. With depreciation bringing this model close to the £10,000 mark, should it be on your radar – or does it feel old-fashioned in 2017?

What are its rivals?

Alongside the closely-related Audi S3, Volkswagen Golf R and Volkswagen Scirocco R, the Leon Cupra R was sold at the same time as the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type R (FN2) – all of which can be bought for similar money today. When this Cupra R was new in 2011, it cost £27,520 including options (£25,995 before), which made it somewhat a bargain alongside the near-£32,000 Golf R.

Which engines does it use?

Under the bonnet is the VW Group’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, producing 265hp. That’s 25hp more than the regular Cupra, thanks to an ECU remap, a higher pressure fuel pump, a new intercooler and a revised exhaust system. Turbo pressure was increased, too – resulting in a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

All that power goes through the front wheels – a brave move when the Golf R had resorted to four-wheel drive, and most front-drive rivals had a reputation for being extremely frisky under acceleration. While, naturally, the Cupra R is happy to light up its front tyres if you’re ham-fisted with the throttle, it’s no Mk1 Focus RS.

There’s no old-school limited-slip diff, but instead an electronic system that uses the ABS to apply the brakes to spinning wheels and reduce understeer. It works well: while understeer could still be an issue on-track, onBuckinghamshire B-roads we didn’t find ourselves wishing we were in the four-wheel-drive Golf.

Body-roll is well contained – despite the slab-sided MPV-esque looks – and even in the age of 300hp-plus hot hatches, it still feels very quick. Power delivery is linear, with oodles of torque available from around 2,500rpm.

Reliability and running costs

The Cupra R is too new for any big reliability issues to come to light, but it should be a fairly safe bet. Make sure you get an insurance quote before parting with any money, and don’t expect much more than 30mpg in day-to-day use. SEAT servicing should be reasonable, but obviously it’ll cost more to maintain than a regular 1.2 TSI.

Could I drive it every day?

Could I drive it every day?

Yes, of course you could. There are all the creature comforts you’d expect from a modern hot hatch (including luxurious quilted leather seats), while later models from mid-2011 got a (now a bit dated) infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity and bi-xenon headlights as standard. It’s a practical car, with plenty of room in the back and a generously-sized boot. Kids might tire of the hard ride, though.

How much should I pay?

This is the sort of car that might be driven hard and neglected, so it’s worth paying more for a good example. We reckon a budget of around £13,000 will get you a very tidy one.

What should I look out for?

What should I look out for?

Look out for signs that it has been driven hard. This isn’t an obvious track car, but some owners may have taken their Cupra R on track days. Check the condition of the tyres (and make sure they’re a good brand) and look closely at the alloys as they’re fairly easy to kerb. Also, make sure it’s been serviced regularly.

Should I buy one?

Not everyone will be taken by the people-carrier looks, but the Leon Cupra R represents excellent value for money alongside the more expensive Golf GTI. It’s rarer, too, and we think it looks rather special in the Chrono Yellow seen here. It’ll make you grin almost as much as the latest hot hatches, but for a third of the price.

Pub fact

Pub fact

Although SEAT continues to stick with front-wheel drive for the Leon Cupra, it did briefly produce a 4×4 version of the Mk1 Leon. It was sold between 2000 and 2002, but in left-hand-drive markets only. Power came from VW’s 2.8-litre VR6 engine producing ‘more than 200hp’.

70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decadeIn 1947, just eight years after leaving Alfa Romeo, Enzo Ferrari built the first car to wear a Ferrari badge. Now, 70 years later, it’s left to us to select the cars that define the history of the Prancing Horse.

“The best Ferrari is the next one,” as Enzo Ferrari famously said, so on that basis the best is yet to come. But how did we go about selecting the greatest Ferraris from the past 70 years?

It’s a highly subjective opinion, of course, but by selecting two from each decade, it focused our minds on choosing the very best. This means that some Ferraris that might have made an overall list of the top 10 will have missed out.

1940s: Ferrari 125 S70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Enzo Ferrari worked at Alfa Romeo for ten years, heading up the Scuderia Ferrari racing department. He left in 1939 and – cutting a long story short – formed a company called Auto Avio Costruzioni, developing a car at a workshop in Modena. But this wasn’t the first car to wear a Ferrari badge. No, that honour belongs to the 125 S.

By Enzo’s own admission, the 125 S’s racing debut was “a promising failure”, but it laid the foundations for the next 70 years. After just five months, the 125 S had achieved six wins from 14 races.

1940s: Ferrari 166 MM70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Enzo’s first car – the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 – was designed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan and, eight years later, Ferrari returned to the coachbuilder to pen the body of the 166 MM (Mille Miglia). It wasn’t the first Ferrari, but it was arguably the most significant to date, becoming a dominant force in motorsport and setting a trend for a succession of barchettas and spiders.

It made its debut at the 1948 Turin Motor Show, with the show car sprayed red and featuring a real leather interior. Significantly, the 166 MM enjoyed success at Le Mans, Spa and the Mille Miglia.

1950s: Ferrari 250 GT California Spider70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Selecting the two greatest Ferraris from the 1950s is slightly trickier. The 250 GT California Spider makes the cut, but not because of its role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is one of the most beautiful cars ever built and ranks amongst the most expensive cars ever sold at auction. Indeed, a barn-find 250 GT SWB California Spider sold for $18.5m in 2015.

The LWB (long-wheelbase) version was built between 1958 and 1960, while the SWB (short wheelbase) was in production from 1960 to 1962. It’s the SWB that’s the more valuable of the two and as such it should slot into the 1960s category. But when you discover what we’ve chosen for the 60s, you’ll understand why we’re including the 250 GT California Spider under the banner of the 1950s.

1950s: Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Our second choice is the 250 Testa Rossa, so called because of its red valve covers. It became one of the most successful cars in Ferrari’s history, but this was no track-only special. These 3.0-litre V12-engined cars were road legal, despite looking like Formula One race cars.

The 300hp 250 TR could reach speeds of up to 170mph, propelling it to victory in the 1957 World Sports Car Championship, Ferrari’s third consecutive win. In 2014, chassis 0704 sold for a record £24 million. Historian Marcel Massini described that car as one of the top five Ferraris on the planet. Just one reason why we’ve included the 250 Testa Rossa on our list of true greats.

1960s: Ferrari 250 GTO70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

The first name down on the team sheet and the reason why there’s only one berth available in the 1960s category. It is, of course, the 250 GTO, probably the best Ferrari… in the world. Formidable on the track, and just as good on the road, Ferrari managed to dodge homologation rules by building just 36 cars.

A prototype was tested by Stirling Moss, before being unveiled to the public in February 1962. A year earlier, Enzo Ferrari had described the Jaguar E-Type as the most beautiful car ever made. With its long bonnet, ‘droop snoot’ nose and stubby tail, the 250 GTO could rival the E-Type in the beauty stakes. A star was born.

1960s: Ferrari 365 GTB4 ‘Daytona’70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

The 50s and 60s were a golden era for Ferrari, so much so that we’ve been forced to leave out cars that could otherwise have beaten Ferraris from different decades. The 365 GTB4 was unveiled at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, and was immediately christened the ‘Daytona’, in honour of Ferrari’s 1-2-3 victory at the 24-hour race in 1967.

This was the last 12-cylinder Ferrari announced before Fiat took control in 1969, with Maranello sticking to the front-engine layout, at a time when mid-engined cars were in fashion. Early cars featured a strip of Plexiglass in front of the lights, but this was replaced by pop-up units to comply with US safety legislations. In 1969, Ferrari launched a spider version, which accounted for 10% of sales. Either way, the ‘Daytona’ is arguably the coolest Ferrari ever built.

1970s: Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

And so to the 1970s, where we start with the Ferrari 308 GTB and GTS. These were hugely significant cars for the marque, delivering sales success previously unknown to Ferrari. The 308 GTB came first, at the 1975 Paris Motor Show, and was the first Ferrari to feature a fibreglass body.

Later, Ferrari returned to traditional pressed steel and aluminium, before the arrival of the 308 GTS in 1977. The most famous targa-topped model is arguably the 1984 car, driven by Tom Selleck in the Magnum P.I. TV series. In January 2017, it sold at auction for £144,150.

1970s: Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Leaving aside the Dino-badged models for a moment, the Berlinetta Boxer (BB) represented a turning point for Ferrari. Launched in prototype form at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, the 365 GT4 BB was powered by a central-longitudinally mounted V12 engine, enveloped in a body designed by Pininfarina.

In 1976, the 365 GT4 BB evolved into the BB and later into the BBi, complete with Bosch fuel injection. Eric Clapton is a fan, so much so that he commissioned Ferrari to build a tribute to the BB using a Ferrari 458 Italia. The result was a one-off SP-12, which cost ‘Slowhand’ a cool £3m.

Ferrari 288 GTO70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Selecting two Ferraris to represent the 1980s was an easy task. The Ferrari GTO – commonly referred to as the 288 GTO – was built to compete in Group B rallying, but when the FIA pulled the plug, the GTO was left without a party to attend. As a result, the GTO never raced, leaving all 272 units to fall into private hands.

As you’d expect from a race-bred, 400hp twin-turbocharged V8 supercar, demand was high, so much so that Ferrari sold each one to order, before the car went into production. In any other company, this would have been the greatest car of the decade. But Ferrari had another ace up its sleeve…

1980s: Ferrari F4070 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

The 250 GTO might be the purists’ choice as the greatest Ferrari of all time, but the F40 would win if judged on universal appeal. It’s the poster star for a generation; the supercar we grew up wanting.

It was the last new-car presentation attended by Enzo Ferrari before his death in 1988, and built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the marque. Like the 250 GTO, it felt like a race car for the road, with extensive use of composite materials for the chassis, a glassfibre body and a stripped-back interior. Such was the demand, Ferrari built 1,311 F40s between 1987 and 1992.

1990s: Ferrari 456 GT Venice70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

For the first time since the 365 GTB4, Ferrari returned to a front-engine layout for the launch of the 456 GT. It was the ultimate GT car, featuring a 5.5-litre V12 engine and a sumptuous interior with space for four. Good enough to make our list of greatest Ferraris? Not quite…

If you’ve got the funds, anything is possible, as demonstrated by the sublime 456 GT Venice. Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei liked the idea of a 456 GT wagon so much, he ordered seven units from Pininfarina. He purchased six of them, each one costing a cool $1.5m.

1990s: Ferrari F35570 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Beautiful, isn’t it? On looks alone, the F355 is worthy of consideration when producing a list of great Ferraris. Although the shape was inspired by the 348, Pininfarina spent a huge amount of time perfecting the aerodynamics of the F355, moving the game on considerably.

Note the air intakes, which you can see, and the flat bottom, which you can’t: two factors that optimised airflow distribution. The aerodynamics helped the F355 to achieve a top speed of around 183mph, while a later car – called the F1 – featured Formula One style paddles behind the steering wheel.

2000s: Ferrari Enzo70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

In 2002, the Ferrari Enzo represented the very pinnacle of supercar development. It was, almost quite literally, a Formula One car for the road, right down to its use of composite materials, advanced aerodynamics and top speed of 350km/h (217mph). It was a fitting tribute the company’s founder, who had died 14 years earlier.

Ferrari built 400 units, each one featuring a chassis made entirely from carbon-fibre and aluminium honeycomb sandwich panels. It was also the first Ferrari road car to feature carbon-ceramic disc brakes.

2000s: Ferrari 430 Scuderia70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

None other than Michael Schumacher helped develop the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, with the F1 driver completing lap after lap on the Nürburgring in an attempt to hone the car to within a millimetre of perfection. The result was a car with 510hp, a top speed of 198mph and a 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds. But while these figures might be good for Top Trumps, they only tell half the story.

It’s not that the standard 430 wasn’t a great car, it’s just that the ‘Scud’ took things to an entirely new level. The F1-SuperFast2 gearbox reduced shifts to a 60 thousandths of a second, the F1-Trac differential was straight out a Grand Prix car, while other details included a new rear diffuser and a specific Gurney flap on the engine cover.

2010s: Ferrari FF70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

One car is a shoe-in for the current decade, but what of the other choice? We’ve opted for the Ferrari FF, on the basis that it took the marque in a new direction. When it was unveiled in 2011, the motoring world looked on with amazement. Here was Ferrari’s first four-wheel-drive car, with enough space to seat four people in total comfort.

It was a clever move by Ferrari, not least because it allowed the brand to expand into new markets, such as China, where supercar owners like to take their family along for the ride. It was also the first time a V12 engine had been mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch F1 gearbox.

2010s: Ferrari LaFerrari70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

Ferrari built 500 LaFerraris, 499 of which were sold on an invite-only basis. The remaining car was sold at auction to raise money for the Italian earthquake disaster. It raised £5.5 million, five times more than the cost when new.

That it’s one of the greatest Ferraris of all-time is in no doubt. Indeed, Ferrari liked it so much, it decided to christen it ‘The Ferrari’.

Ferrari J5070 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

What about the cars that got away? We could make a strong case for the 458 Italia, which straddles two decades. Then there’s the F12 Berlinetta, the F12tdf, the Dino 246, 250 GT Lusso, 330 GTS, 488 Spider… the list could go on.

But what of the present and the future? In December 2016, Ferrari unveiled the J50, another limited edition built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan. Only 10 will be built.

Ferrari 70th Anniversary70 years of Ferrari: the greatest from each decade

In 2017, Ferrari will celebrate 70 years in the business by creating 70 bespoke cars. Seventy liveries will be rolled out, each one created just the once for every car in the current range.

All the cars will come complete with a 70th anniversary logo, along with a plate stating the name of the model that inspired it. Of course, you’ll already know this, as you will have received an invitation to place an order. Here’s to the next 70 years.

The best motoring events of 2017

The best motoring events of 2017

The best motoring events of 2017

January: a time for planning. And car fans will be pleased to hear there is no shortage of motoring events on the agenda for 2017. Why not grab a brew, your shiny new calendar and join us for a look at what we have to look forward to this year?

Ace Cafe German Night (6 February)

If you’re a car enthusiast and have never been to an event at London’s Ace Cafe, make it your resolution to change that in 2017. The historic transport cafe, located on London’s North Circular, plays host to regular themed evenings. The German Night is a must for Mercedes and BMW enthusiasts.

London Classic Car Show, Excel (23 – 26 February)

If classic cars are more your thing, you don’t have to wait long until the London Classic Car Show, held at the Excel in February. The central Grand Avenue will feature more than 50 classic cars in action every day, while a special display will celebrate 70 years of Ferrari road cars.

Race Retro, Stoneleigh (24 – 26 February)

Those who like to see classic race cars being used as their maker intended should head to Warwickshire for Race Retro. Highlights include an auction of historic cars, interviews with legendary racing drivers and, of course, a live rally stage.

Retro Classics, Stuttgart, Germany (2 – 5 March)

Retro Classics, Stuttgart, Germany (2 - 5 March)

Looking for an excuse to travel further afield? Stuttgart hosts Retro Classics, one of the biggest classic motor shows in the world. There’s something for everyone, say organisers, from exotic Maseratis to motorbikes, and even a timeline of European local buses from 1950 to 1955.

Geneva Motor Show (9 – 19 March)

The Geneva Motor Show is one of the biggest events on our calendar – we attend every year to bring you the latest concept and production cars on display in Switzerland’s second biggest city. But you don’t need to be a journalist to attend the Geneva Motor Show, it opens its doors to the public from 9 March, allowing you to get up close with the latest reveals. It makes for a fantastic road trip.

Ultimate Dubs (12 March)

From Geneva to… Telford. Ultimate Dubs is the UK’s largest indoor VW Group event, catering for modified Volkswagens, Audis, SEATs and Skodas. If slammed VW Golfs and Audi TTs with more attitude than a bored teenager are your thing, Ultimate Dubs is the ultimate place to be in March.

BTCC season launch, Donington (16 March)

Where else can you see names such as Gordon Shedden and Jason Plato hammering souped-up road cars on tracks around the UK? The 2017 British Touring Car Championship kicks off at Donington in March.

Goodwood Members’ Meeting, Goodwood (18 – 19 March)

Goodwood Members’ Meeting, Goodwood (18 - 19 March)

The exclusive Goodwood Members’ Meeting is a weekend of motor racing, enjoyed only by members or a small number of lucky ticket holders. By keeping attendance down, spectators can enjoy motorsport with limited crowds. Alternatively, watch it unfold online.

Brooklands Mini Day (19 March)

Brooklands is a historic venue and always worth a visit – but its special Mini Day in March is unmissable for fans of Britain’s favourite pocket-sized car. Drivers of modern MINIs are welcome too.

Great Escape Cars & Coffee, Redditch (26 March)

The best classic car events can involve little more than getting a gathering of enthusiasts (and their motors), giving them coffee and letting them chat cars. Hire firm Great Escape Cars lets enthusiasts do just that – and donates £1 to charity for every classic that turns up.

Practical Classics Restoration and Classic Car Show, NEC, Birmingham (31 March – 2 April)

The Practical Classics Restoration and Classic Car Show is a relatively new addition to the calendar, but 19,000 enthusiasts headed to the NEC for the show in 2016. This year, it promises more than 800 cars on display – from restored classics to neglected barn finds. Adult tickets start at £16 in advance.

The Fast Show, Santa Pod (2 April)

The Fast Show, Santa Pod (2 April)

If your idea of a car show is a village green full of MGBs and, at a push, a beer tent, The Fast Show at Santa Pod probably isn’t for you. It involves an open ‘run what ya brung’ drag strip sessions, a nightclub in the evening and even dancing girls.

Techno Classica, Essen, Germany (5 – 9 April)

The five-day-long Techno Classica show at Essen, Germany, is a must for British classic car fans who’ve outgrown our own shows. It attracts nearly 200,000 visitors from around the world.

Top Marques, Monaco (20 – 23 April)

The Fast Show this is not. Top Marques is held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, and allows visitors to get up close to the world’s hottest supercars. Demonstrations take place on the iconic F1 racetrack and, if you’re a serious supercar buyer, you might even be able to take some test drives.

Drive It Day (23 April)

Drive It Day is a nationwide thing, introduced by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) to encourage classic car owners to drive their cars. It’s held in spring every year – giving enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to get their cars on the road after winter. Events are held all over the country, including at Beaulieu, Brooklands and Gaydon.

Auto Italia – Italian Car Day, Brooklands (29 April)

Auto Italia – Italian Car Day, Brooklands (29 April)

Back to Brooklands, these time for Auto Italia’s fabulous Italian Car Day. Visitors in Italian cars – whether it’s a Fiat or Ferrari – get to park in a special area, while fans can enjoy track demonstrations.

Japfest, Silverstone (30 April)

Meanwhile, over at Silverstone, Japanese car nuts can enjoy the enormous Japfest event. Watch drifting demos, take part in club line-ups and even get out on track. There’s even a show and shine for those who like to keep their motors in mint condition.

Truckfest, Peterborough (30 April – 1 May)

And now for something a bit different. For one weekend, the East of England showground becomes the country’s biggest truck park – with more than 2,000 lorries heading along the A1 to take part. You don’t have to be a trucker to attend, with adult visitor tickets starting at £17.50.

National Kit Car Motor Show, Stoneleigh (30 April – 1 May)

If you like your cars to be of the DIY variety, the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire is a must. From have-a-go opportunities to live music and hundreds of trade stands, there’s plenty for the casual fan as well as the serious kit car enthusiast.

London Motor Show (5 – 7 May)

London Motor Show (5 - 7 May)

After a number of years without a motor show in the UK, the London Motor Show returned last year. And it’s back for 2017 – hosted at Battersea Park, with celebrity guests including Jodie Kidd and former Stig Ben Collins likely to put in appearances.

Mille Miglia (18 – 21 May)

The original Mille Miglia race took place between 1927 and 1957, but has been brought back since 1977. The thousand-mile event crosses Italy and is only open to cars made before 1957 that participated in the original race. While most of us aren’t lucky enough to own such a car, it’s worth a trip to see the spectacle of such exotic motors being put through the challenge.

London to Brighton Mini Run (20 – 21 May)

Who doesn’t like a Mini? The London to Brighton Mini Run takes place every year, with 2,100 Minis old and new taking part in the event. At Madeira Drive in Brighton, there’s a line-up of all the entrants, plus a live action arena featuring autotest demos and stunt bike displays.

Worthersee, Austria (24 – 27 May)

If you’re a VW enthusiast and want to travel a little further afield, the Worthersee Volkswagen festival attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year. There’s a manufacturer-backed element – usually a few pimped cars and the occasional special reveal alongside Lake Worthersee – but the whole town is taken over by retro and modified Vee-dubs.

Nurburgring 24-hour, Germany (25 – 28 May)

Nurburgring 24-hour, Germany (25 - 28 May)

Why not combine a trip to Worthersee with a visit to the infamous Nurburgring for its annual 24-hour race? More than 200 cars take part in the event on the 15.5 mile Nordschleife circuit, making it a mesmerising spectacle.

Isle of Man TT (27 May – 9 June)

The Isle of Man TT is a must-visit event for bike fans. It’s been taking place every year since 1907, with star racers such as Guy Martin taking to public roads to test their limits. It’s a thrilling event and well worth the cost of a ferry.

Coventry MotoFest (3 – 4 June)

You can imagine the conversation that led to the inaugural Coventry Motofest taking place in 2014. A group of petrolheads got together and decided it’d be fun, for one weekend a year, to take over the city of Coventry with motoring-related activities. Could they show off the city’s motoring heritage, display classic cars in the centre and even hold demonstrations on the ring road? Turns out, yes they could. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Classic Ford Show, Santa Pod (4 June)

Classic Fords, run what ya brung and DJ Pied Piper… wait, what? Yes, the Classic Ford Show at Santa Pod in June really has it all. Well, if you like old Fords, drag racing and tasteless garage music. Adult tickets cost £18 in advance.

Cholmondeley Power and Speed, Cheshire (9 – 11 June)

Cholmondeley Power and Speed, Cheshire (9 - 11 June)

Dubbed the Goodwood Festival of Speed of the north, Cholmondeley Power and Speed (formerly known as the Pageant of Power) is a three-day motorsport extravaganza. A record 40,000 visitors attended last year.

24 Hours of Le Mans, France (17 – 18 June)

Even if you’re not a big motorsport fan, no one can fail to get caught up in the atmosphere at Le Mans during its annual 24-hour race. Enjoy a ride on the ferris wheel, watch cars hit 200mph on the Mulsanne Straight in the early hours of the morning and find out exactly what a ‘beer mountain’ is. Book campsites well in advance as they do fill up.

MG Live, Silverstone (17 – 18 June)

Think of MG enthusiasts and you might picture a small gathering of classic MGBs at a village car show, but MG Live is a much bigger event than you’d expect. Held at Silverstone, the two-day motoring festival celebrates all that’s great about MG: from historic racing to displays of the latest models.

Bromley Pageant of Motoring (18 June)

With more than 3,000 classic cars in attendance, the annual Bromley Pageant of Motoring claims to be the world’s largest one-day classic car show. Entry is £12.50 in advance, and cars are grouped into special one-make parking areas.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood (22 – 25 June)

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood (22 - 25 June)

In 1993, Lord March hosted a hillclimb in the grounds of Goodwood House in Sussex and created the Festival of Speed. Back then, 25,000 spectators attended – today attendance is capped at 150,000. It’s a brilliant opportunity to see historic race cars driving up the infamous hill climb and the recent addition of the Moving Motor Show even allows visitors to get behind the wheel.

The Supercar Event, Dunsfold (24 – 25 June)

How would you like to take a passenger ride in a supercar on Top Gear’s test track and to raise money for charity at the same time? That’s precisely what The Supercar Event at Dunsfold offers, with owners giving up their time and petrol for nothing. Book ahead for £30 to be guaranteed a ride.

PSCUK’s Peugeot Festival, Prescott Hillclimb (2 July)

The Peugeot Sport Club’s Peugeot Festival, formerly known as Pugfest, has been held at the historic Prescott Hillclimb since 2002. Whether you’re a fan of the legendary 205 GTI or slammed 306s are more your bag, the Peugeot Festival is a must visit for Pug fans. Tickets start at £12 for non-members, and visitors can drive their car up the hill for just £7.

The BMC and Leyland Show, Gaydon (2 July)

The chances of seeing an Austin Allegro or Leyland Sherpa on the roads today are slim, but if your boat is floated by these unloved classics, the BMC and Leyland show is the place to be. It’s held at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon and is open to all British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover Group vehicles.

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone (14 – 16 July)

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone (14 - 16 July)

Like Le Mans, you don’t need to be a huge motorsport fan to be caught up in the atmosphere of the F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Tickets for the main event on Sunday are officially sold out, but you might find some if you shop around.

Classics on the Common, Harpenden (26 July)

It’s the biggest week-day classic car show, with more than 1,000 classics heading to the Hertfordshire town of Harpenden for its annual Classics on the Common event. Starting around lunchtime and running throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the event combines a great atmosphere with an eclectic mix of old and new cars.

Silverstone Classic, Silverstone (28 – 30 July)

Disappointed to have missed out on the Grand Prix? Or just prefer older cars? Don’t miss Silverstone Classic, held on the last weekend of July. It’s more than just classic motor racing: there’s live music, classic car line-ups and even a special retro run on the roads around Silverstone.

CarFest North (28 – 30 July)

CarFest was the mad idea of Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans. He may not have succeeded at Top Gear, but his charity event has been a runaway success since its launch in 2012. Millions of pounds have been raised for Children in Need, with tens of thousands of fans heading to CarFest North’s venue at Bolesworth Castle in Cheshire each year.

CarFest South (25 – 27 August)

CarFest South (25 - 27 August)

For those of us in the south, there’s a second CarFest event held at Laverstoke Park Farm near Basingstoke, Hampshire. Highlights include live action on the hillclimb, as well as live music and even cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.

Salon Privé, Blenheim Palace (31 August – 2 September)

Salon Privé describes itself as “the UK’s most exclusive automotive garden party”. If rare and exotic Ferraris are your thing, it’s the place to be. Tickets for the supercar show on the Saturday cost £125 plus fees.

Beaulieu International Autojumble (2 – 3 September)

If a giant car boot sale full of automotive paraphernalia is your idea of a good day out, head to Beaulieu for its world-famous autojumble. More than 2,000 stalls will be selling every car-related item you could possibly imagine, and there’ll even be around 200 vehicles offered for sale by private sellers.

Goodwood Revival (8 – 10 September)

Step back in time at the Goodwood Revival. Visitors are encouraged to dress in period clothing (in fact, you’ll stand out if you don’t), while historic race cars recreate the golden era of 50s and 60s motorsport. There’s even a period Tesco store on site.

Frankfurt Motor Show (14 – 24 September)

Frankfurt Motor Show (14 - 24 September)

The Frankfurt and Paris motor shows alternate every year, with 2017 being the turn of Frankfurt to host the world’s car manufacturers in September. If you want to know just how much money German car manufacturers have, head to Frankfurt. Volkswagen Group, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all attempt to outdo each other with the size of their show stands.

Manchester Classic Car Show (16 – 17 September)

The Manchester Classic Car Show lives somewhat in the shadow of its Brummy cousin, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a classic car nut. From a wide array of classic car clubs to a concours event and even a live rally stage, there’s plenty to keep the family entertained.

Land Rover Owner International Show, Peterborough (16 – 17 September)

Once a year, Peterborough plays host to the Land Rover Owner International Show. Whether you drive a tricked-up Disco or a rare Series One, there’s plenty see for every Land Rover enthusiast. Visitors will even be able to take part in a little light off-roading at the nearby Tixover Grange.

Rally GB, Wales (26 – 29 October)

The penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes place in Wales – and you can get your rallying fix later in the year. While special stages such as Cholmondeley Castle are a good starting point, we suggest being more adventurous and travelling deep into Wales to get closer to the action without the crowds.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (5 November)

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (5 November)

The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is an annual celebration of the 1896 Locomotives on Highways Act, which increased the national speed limit to 14mph. Apart from a break for WW2, it’s been held every year since 1927, with more than 400 cars taking part. Our tip? Head into London early to watch the historic cars passing famous landmarks.

NEC Classic Motor Show, Birmingham (10 – 12 November)

The NEC Classic Motor Show is always a brilliant way to end the year. The show takes over five halls and features classic car clubs, exhibitors selling everything from rare parts to old magazines, and even an auction. Book in advance to save money on tickets.

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

Britain’s biggest car makers 2016 – ranked

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016Car production in Britain hit a 17-year high in 2016, with 1.7 million models built here during the year. The 8.5% increase over the previous year saw 1.35 million cars shipped overseas – making it the second year running of record car exports.

Britain is the third-largest car producer in Europe, behind only Germany and France. What’s more, the country is the second-biggest maker of high-profit premium models, thanks to posh brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin.

Built in Britain: UK automotive from A to Z

More cars were made in Britain since 1999, from 15 different car factories across the UK. But which brands made the most cars of all? Here we’ve ranked them – revealing that two brands alone made more than a million cars between them…

1: Jaguar Land Rover – 544,401 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

Almost 1 in 3 of all cars built in Britain last year were either Jaguars or Land Rovers. It builds cars in three regions, in Liverpool and the West Midlands, with 80% of what they build exported overseas. Total production of 544,401 cars was an 8% increase on the previous year.

2: Nissan – 507,444 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

A booming Jaguar Land Rover means Nissan has lost its spot as Britain’s biggest car maker for the second year running – but it shouldn’t be downhearted. It still made more than half a million cars at the vast Sunderland facility, with the Qashqai leading the charge: the Juke, Leaf and Infiniti Q30 are also built there.

3: Mini – 210,972 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

That oh-so-British of cars, the Mini, has been built in Britain ever since 1959. Today, the Plant Oxford factory continues to churn out Mini Hatch models, with more than 210,000 made there last year.

4: Toyota – 180,425 vehicles

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

Toyota is something of a forgotten British car producer, but it still made more than 180,000 cars last year: the Avensis and Auris are its stock in trade. Engines are also produced in Britain, and Burnaston even makes the popular hybrid version of the Auris. Let’s hope Toyota soon commits to building future generations of cars in the UK…

5: Honda – 134,145 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

2016 was a transitional year for Honda – but an important one, because it became the only Honda factory in the world to start producing the new Civic hatchback. These will be exported overseas as well as sold in Britain: we can thus expect this 134k figure to start growing quickly going forward.

6: Vauxhall – 118,182 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

Vauxhall makes the Astra at Ellesmere Port, and was boosted in 2016 by the car winning the prestigious European Car of the Year title. Now it’s fully on stream, with both hatchback and Sports Tourer estate made there, surely this 118k figure will start to grow further.

7: The others – 27,127 cars

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

Britain is home to a huge number of specialist car manufacturers alongside the world-renowned performance and luxury giants of Aston Martin, Bentley, Lotus, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. It’s clearly a thriving industry, with more than 27,000 specialist cars made here last year.

Where do cars built in Britain go to?

The biggest car makers in Britain 2016

8 out of 10 cars built in Britain are actually exported overseas. This is great news for the nation’s economy – but where do all the cars go to? Here’s the top 10 rundown – prepare to be surprised…

1: EU – 56%

Yes, more than half the 1.7 million cars built in Britain were exported to Europe in 2016. It is by far our most important automotive trading partner – hence the importance of striking the right deal in the Brexit negotiations…

2: USA – 14.5%

North America is our second most important automotive trading partner, but some way behind the EU. Americans are particular fans of Jaguar Land Rover products, while the Mini is also exported there.

3: China – 6.5%

China is a huge market for car sales so this 6.5% figure may appear a little surprising – until you remember that the country’s demand for our cars is almost entirely top-end. Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and Bentley vehicles are all very popular, and the more extensive the add-on options, the better…

4: Turkey – 3.1%

Strong demand for vehicles from Toyota, Nissan and Vauxhall (badged Opel) makes Turkey a surprisingly large market for British-built cars.

5: Australia – 2.5%

Australia is another market that is a fan of luxurious British cars. What better models than Land Rover products to tackle the vast Outback, for example?

6: Japan – 1.9%

Japanese car makers don’t just dominate the UK car manufacturing scene, but some cars made here are actually sent into Japan as well. It was a very big deal indeed when the fantastic Honda Civic Type R started being exported there, for example…

7: Canada – 1.8%

Canada is a strong trading partner of UK automotive. Jaguar has even developed a range of all-wheel drive models that target the severe Canadian and North American winters: the vehicles are growing in popularity over there.

8: South Korea – 1.7%

The South Korean car market is a relatively small one, compared to the number of cars built there that we buy in Britain. The trading imbalance is partly offset by the fact many of the models sold there are high-value cars such as Bentleys and Land Rovers.

9: Israel – 1.1%

Surprised to see Israel among the top 10 countries British-built cars are exported to? 1.1% of volume isn’t huge, but it’s still bigger than another country that used to take many more cars built here…

10: Russia – 1%

The Russian new car market for Britain used to be much larger than this. Declines in recent years have been partly mitigated by the fact many British-built cars now sold in Russia are expensive ones.