Do you hear that noise? That’s the sound of the World Cup bandwagon, and we’re just about to climb aboard for a ride. We’re comparing the ‘best’ English and German cars from each World Cup year since 1966 with the aim of selecting an overall champion.
We can’t promise you will learn anything from it, but we can assure you of a nail-biting finish. And by the end of it, you probably won’t be feeling quite as bad as David Luiz at the end of the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
Rules of engagement
First, we need to establish some ground rules. This ‘World Cup’ will be split into 14 rounds – one for each World Cup year since 1966 – and we’ve selected important, successful or great cars from each country.
Remember, kids, it’s just for fun, so don’t write in. Oh, and our decision is final – we won’t be using VAR in the event of a questionable decision.
England – Jensen Interceptor
Ah, 1966 and all that. Memories, if you’re old enough to remember, of Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy, Nobby Stiles dancing and a ball that was certainly over the line. There can only be one winner in this round, especially with a name like Interceptor, which sounds like the nickname of a tough-tackling holding midfielder.
Germany – BMW 02 Series
Germany’s response to the Jensen Interceptor is the BMW 02 Series, the svelte, continental and nimble executive from Bavaria. It lacks the performance needed to topple the West Bromwich powerhouse in this instance, but as the forerunner to the 3 Series, we’re expecting great things in future tournaments, Clive.
England – Range Rover
In 1970, the first Range Rover rolled off the production line in Solihull, making it the ideal car for England’s 1970 World Cup bid. In Mexico, the then-champions succumbed to the midday heat, going down 3-2 against semi-finalists West Germany. In our ‘World Cup’, it’s going to take something mighty to stop the Range Rover from making it 2-0 to England.
Germany – Opel Manta
If you’re still with us, thank you. We can’t promise things will improve by the time we reach 2018, which sounds a bit like the England World Cup team. For its 1970 entry, West Germany wades in with the handsome Opel Manta, which would be happier taking on a Ford Capri in a traffic Grand Prix than it would a Range Rover. Sorry, Opel, it’s 2-0 to England. But fear not, Germany, because England took a two goal lead in 1970, and we know what happened next.
England – Lotus Elite
England isn’t exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a squad for 1974, unless you fancy taking on the Germans in an Austin Allegro Vanden Plas. Instead, it’s left to Hethel’s elite – quite literally – in the form of the Lotus Elite. The 2+2 hatchback-cum-coupe represented a shift upmarket for Lotus, but we sense Germany might have this covered.
Germany – Volkswagen Golf
Indeed, West Germany is toying with England’s defense, demonstrating some fancy footwork with the Volkswagen Scirocco, before going in for the kill with the all-conquering Golf. England is powerless to prevent the Germans clawing a goal back, courtesy of elegant Italian styling and ruthless German efficiency. England 2-1 Germany.
England – Vauxhall Chevette HS
Time for England to restore a little pride with some rallying of the troops. Vauxhall is channeling its inner ‘Flying Finn’ with the 2.3-litre Chevette HS, a highly capable homologation special, especially at the hands of Pentti Airikkala. But England is unable to call upon help from Finland in this instance…
Germany – BMW M1
Boom: have some of that. The BMW M1 may have had its problems during development – a rare lack of commitment from the Italians didn’t help matters – but Vauxhall cannot stop the 3.5-litre mid-engined sports car from romping to victory in 1978. It’s an equaliser for West Germany, with the score tied at 2-2.
England – Bristol Brigand
England head to Spain for the 1982 World Cup in need of a strong performance. Time to restore some pride. A development of the earlier 603, the Bristol Brigand can call upon the might of a V8 engine to launch a string of attacks, with the large two-door coupe capable of speeds of up to 150mph. Enough for England to retake the lead?
Germany – Mercedes-Benz 190
There are a few players jockeying for position in West Germany, with the new E30 BMW 3 Series and Audi 100 lining up to take on the Bristol. In the end it’s left to the Mercedes-Benz 190, the most important new car from Stuttgart in many years. But while the 190 was a quantum leap forward over the old 200, it cannot tackle the mighty Brigand in Spain, which puts England back in front.
England – Jaguar XJ
None other than Gary Lineker finished as the top scorer at the 1986 tournament in Mexico, which will remembered for Diego Maradona’s brilliance (not to mention his handball). England take on West Germany with the Jaguar XJ40.
Germany – BMW 7 Series
But the XJ40 is powerless to see off the BMW 7 Series, which scythes down England like a Thomas Berthold tackle. This was a hugely important car for BMW, not least because it replaced an ageing product and was destined to spend its entire time running down the left-hand flank (of the German autobahn). That’s 3-3. Are we destined for a penalty shootout? Nobody tell Gareth Southgate.
England – Lotus Carlton
This will hurt Germany, as the Lotus Carlton also wore an Opel badge. But, as a product of Hethel, it qualifies for the England team, and it’s hard to see how Germany could respond to the 176mph supercar-slayer. Ah, the sweet taste of revenge for the 1990 penalty shootout, although this tie isn’t over yet.
Germany – Mercedes-Benz 500E
Besides, Germany isn’t going down without a fight. Don’t let the subtle looks fool you, because the Mercedes-Benz 500E is as powerful as Lothar Matthäus and as ruthless as Jürgen Klinsmann at his peak. MB’s performance saloon was powered by a 5.0-litre V8 and assembled by Porsche in Stuttgart. It’s a bona fide legend, but the Carlton manages to hang on to put England in front.
England – Jaguar XJ
Sorry, England, but you’re not winning this one. Failure to quality for USA ‘94 meant that England had to sit this one out, so there’s no way a Jaguar XJ (X300) is going to perform well here, even with a choice of six and 12-cylinder engines.
Germany – Audi A8
With its groundbreaking aluminium construction, lightweight body, huge array of engines and choice of interior comforts, the Audi A8 made the Jaguar XJ look rather outmoded. A unified Germany may have lost against Bulgaria in the US tournament, but the A8 cruises to an easy win against England. It’s 4-4, Jim.
England – Bentley Arnage
It wouldn’t be a World Cup without a little controversy, which is why we’re not afraid to give the Bentley Arnage its England debut. Some fine players have emerged from Crewe’s academy, most notably Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy and David ‘in the last minute of extra-time’ Platt. So what’s controversial about another Crewe export? That’d be the 4.4-litre BMW engine, used to power the Arnage at its launch. Don’t mention the engine and we might just get away with it.
Germany – Audi TT
Actually, it would be controversial if England win the 1998 tie, but there’s no chance of that with the Audi TT looming into view. The oh-so-fashionable TT arrived in 1998, dressing to impress like a concept car for the road. With its trendy suit and bespoke interior, the TT knocks the Arnage into submission and gives Germany the lead. Five rounds to go, it’s up for grabs now, Ron.
England – Range Rover L322
The design of the 2002 Range Rover was inspired by yachts, fine furniture and first-class seating, but today it must grab its shin pads for a battle royale. Sure, there’s the small issue of the launch-spec BMW powertrains to gloss over, but the L322 feels like it stems from the golden generation of luxury SUVs.
Germany – Volkswagen Phaeton
Ferdinand Piech’s flight of fantasy faces an uphill battle if it hopes to give Germany a two-goal advantage. Indeed, much like Germany in the 2002 tournament, the Germans must be content with a runners-up medal in our ‘World Cup’. Blimey, this really could go to penalties. That’s 5-5.
England – Lotus Europa S
We head to Germany for the 2006 World Cup, so this will be a tough challenge for England. We’re using a wildcard in the shape of the Lotus Europa S, hoping that, much like Michael Owen at the 1998 tournament, it can surprise a few people.
Germany – Audi R8
Sorry, but not a chance. Germany’s response to Hethel’s lightweight challenger is ruthless in its execution. How could it fail? Based on the Lamborghini Gallardo, the R8 could boast 5,000 unique parts and, at launch, a 4.2-litre V8 engine. With three rounds to go, Germany race into a 6-5 lead.
England – Bentley Mulsanne
It’s perhaps fitting that England’s entry for 2010 is a £220,000 luxury motor, as it seems to reflect the rise in footballers’ wages. The Mulsanne was the first entirely new Bentley in 80 years, with an opulent cabin and a 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. How will Germany respond?
Germany – Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
There’s a lot to love about the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The gullwing doors provide crowd-pleasing theatrics, while the 6.2-litre V8 is a German masterpiece. This is a tough one. Keen not to show any bias, we’re giving this one to the Germans, but it’s by the narrowest of margins. That’s 7-5 to Germany with two rounds to go. It’s not looking good for England.
England – Aston Martin DB10
But we needn’t have worried, because you can always rely on James Bond to keep the English end up. The Aston Martin DB10 was created for Spectre, in which 007 takes on Mr Hinx in a Jaguar C-X75.
Germany – BMW i8
On another day, BMW’s futurist i8 might have won this, but not today. This round belongs to James Bond and to England. To paraphrase a Bond villian, do you expect us to justify our decision? That’s 7-6 to Germany.
England – McLaren Senna
Chasing a goal to grab a late equaliser, England has a formidable bench to choose from. The Jaguar I-Pace, Aston Martin Vantage, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and TVR Griffith fail to make the cut, leaving it to the McLaren Senna. We’re out testing it, so we’re unable to deliver our definitive verdict, but the signs are good. Besides, adding some Brazilian flair to the England attack is a compelling proposition.
Germany – Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Germany isn’t short of new talent: the BMW 8 Series, Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door, Ruf SCR and Audi Q8, to name a few. But even the Porsche 911 GT3 RS is unable to resist the full force of the McLaren Senna. The tournament has finished 7-7, so it’s time for penalties.
The Jaguar I-Pace steps up like a silent assassin to win it for England. Why? Because the electric car takes the fight to Tesla and sees Jaguar beating the Germans to the market. England winning against Germany on penalties – now there’s a thing. If you’re still here, thank you, we know you have better things to do.