Can You Name All of These Iconic British Cars From the '70s?



By: Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Phil

About This Quiz

The 1970s were a time of highs and lows in the British automobile manufacturing business. The most obvious major event was the creation of British Leyland, the child of the merger of British Motor Holdings and Leyland Motors. Initially seen as a consolidation that would increase output, problems within the company and its relationship to labor unions resulted in it collapsing, becoming nationalized, and eventually sold off in pieces. At one time, it held some of the most famous British automobile marques under one roof. Today its last vestiges have long since been purchased and stripped for parts, sending Jags, Minis, and MGs to all four corners of global ownership.

The 1970s also saw the emergence of distinctly British versions of American brands. Ford and GM both had a major stake in car manufacture in the UK, and with touring car racing all the rage, it felt like all the major brands were racing cars one could buy, and it riveted the nation. Partnerships solidified between the likes of tuning house Cosworth and Ford, and as the oil crisis set in, demand for light, fuel-efficient British cars helped make some British cars even cooler. It was a time of cool cars on British TV shows and tremendous pride in Britain's comeback from the rationing and misery following WW2. How well do you know the iconic British cars of the 1970s?

Which car abandoned its short body version for a longer body capable of fitting its 1970s engine upgrade?

While some enthusiasts complain that the Mk III E-Type was a stylistic departure from the original's proportions, it was much more powerful, with a massive V12 engine requiring the whole FCH body style to be discontinued in favor of something more spacious. Coming only as a 2+2 or convertible, the Mk III stands out with its new grille, longer body and new engine note. Very few six-cylinder Mk IIIs were made.


From 1973 to 1979, this car epitomized power, luxury and style, even giving electronic fuel injection to its American models in 1976. Which iconic British car was it?

The second-generation Jaguar XJ was really when, mostly due to design changes in the face of safety laws, the appearance of the car took on aspects that would last into the 1990s. Equipped either with one of two straight-six engines or a V12, there were over 91,000 series II XJs built, with about 14,000 being V12 units. Sadly, with much of the electrical equipment running through the floor of the XJ, puddles could wreak havoc.


Which of these cars broke during a maximum speed test at the Frankfurt motor show, a flaw due to problems at its factory?

The Triumph TR7 was Triumph's swaggering attempt at climbing toward the 1980s with its own wedge car. It had all the elements needed for modest success, except for the labor problems at Speke, where its factory was located. When the press got their hands on the TR7, described by Triumph as "the shape of things to come," it literally broke, "boiling" during the speed test. Sadly, for Triumph, this was the shape of things to come.


Which British car started the 1970s as the best selling car in the UK, and was let down by its successor?

The Austin 1100/1300 series was a much loved, reliable car that first came out in 1963, and was a kissing cousin of the Morris 1100. It was so successful that British Leyland decided to stop making it and replace it with the Austin Allegro, which didn't sell as well because it wasn't as good a value.


This beast wouldn't defend anyone, but even with just 73 horses, it could go anywhere. What was it?

The Series III Land Rover was Land Rover stepping slowly into the future. Replacing the Series IIA that came before, the Series III made a lot of 1970s era safety modifications like a dash made of molded plastic, not bare metal, and a gauge cluster that was actually in front of the driver, not in the middle of the dashboard. The Series III was pressed into military service and the British military were able to travel without sinking into the muck due to the car's lack of weight, despite its size.


What British car swallowed a larger engine that somehow weighed less and delivered even more power?

MG MGB GT V8 may be a mouthful, but it just evolved that way. The MG MGB was a small, light sports car from MG. The MGB GT was the GT version, with modest upgrades. The MGB GT V8 was the GT with an aluminum Rover V8 that weighed less than its steel, four-banger predecessor. The result was the MGB GT V8 was much more powerful, and about 40 pounds lighter. Not a bad combination.


Which of these British 1970s kit cars was based on Triumph Herald?

The aptly named Spartan Cars was a British kit car company active from 1973 to 1995. Their major 1970s entry was the Roadster, a 2+2 retro roadster based on the Triumph Herald, and fading into history as the Herald went out of production. The Sherwood was based on a Ford Cortina and a different chassis; the Starcraft was based on later Ford Cortinas, and the Treka (released in the 1990s) was based on a 1984 Ford Fiesta.


This car was built as a more practical version of a Bond car. Do you know what it is?

The Lotus Elise is cool, but it's not very practical. The Lotus Eclat was little more than a Lotus Elise with a fastback body, but that change put more weight on the rear wheels and provided more storage space. Sadly, like the original Elise, its body was held together with strips of felt. Yes, really.


Which of these cars replaced a sports car once called the most beautiful car in the world by Enzo Ferrari?

When Jaguar decided it had too much of a good thing with the E-Type, it created the XJ-S to fill the gap left behind when they killed the E-Type. Who could fault a great big Jag with a V12? As it turned out, almost everybody. The car launched in the middle of the 1970s fuel crisis and even had problems stemming from its design, with German officials concerned with the car's rear visibility, requiring every individual XJ-S to be inspected for safety.


Which car became an icon in the 1970s, but continued to be made, more or less unaltered, until 2004?

Morgan is a weird and wonderful company, and the Morgan Plus-8 is iconic. It was launched in 1968, but it picked up traction, became a weird and wonderful car of the 1970s, and continued to be one through the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. It was designed by a racer. It had a limited-slip differential, a Rover V8, and swelled over the 1970s, with wider tires added to accommodate its prodigious power.


Which car was marketed to the British public as the car "you always promised yourself"?

The Ford Capri was Ford's successful attempt to bring pony car madness to Europe, without bringing the Ford Mustang. The Capri's success was a product of classic looks that were just a bit different from other pony cars, a great marketing campaign, and easy to use, reliable mechanicals. Well, reliable for the 1970s.


Despite being slow for its type, which car was made famous in the film "The Spy Who Loved Me"?

One bright mind at Lotus had the idea of parking the Esprit in front of the production offices behind the James Bond franchise, without any markings on it, just to get attention. With Cubby Broccoli (the executive producer) drooling over it, the Lotus employee got in and drove away without a word. The gamble piqued Broccoli's interest, and he didn't rest until the Esprit was the submersible car in "The Spy Who Loved Me."


This car was such an iconic success, it didn't give up the ghost until 1990! What was it?

The Rolls-Royce Phantom VI is the Rolls-Royce of 1970s British cars. The buzzword for top quality was released in 1968 but came to define Rolls in the 1970s, as it was an iconic model for them, being sold not just as a sedan, but also as a hearse, and two one-off convertibles customized by legendary designer Pietro Frua. It was a milestone, being the last Rolls with a separate chassis, and for much of the 1970s, holding to its variant of the engine from the Silver Shadow.


Due to orders from management, this car's engine was mounted in the transverse, creating the blueprint for all front-wheel-drive cars. Which car is it?

The Mini was not designed to be cool. It was designed to be practical. It was competing with lots of German "bubble" cars, which had lots of interior space and practicality, but it had to be built to a price. Many innovations came out of the Mini, but the one with the most significant impact was a result of being told to use an engine British Leyland already had on hand. It needed to be given a transverse mounting to fit and front-wheel drive to work. The result? Every compact car since then.


Can you identify the car that ate another model in its range and became a best-seller but was a major risk on the part of the automaker?

When Ford launched the third generation Cortina, it meant the death of the Corsair because while you could still get a cheap Cortina with a small engine, the top trim level gave the Cortina an engine that made the Corsair irrelevant. The Corsair wasn't a bad loss, though, as the Mk III Cortina became the best selling car of the 1970s in Britain.


What luxury car borrowed its doors from the BMC 1800 and, with power steering, was actually easy to drive?

With looks described as "Neo-Classical," the Panther De Ville was a car with looks that grew on you with time. In terms of engineering, it was a great car, with suspension by Jaguar, a Jaguar V12, and an interior that wasn't retro at all, but comfortable and luxurious. Not a sporty car, its speed was only limited by its retro shape. It was noted as the car du jour among the UK's nouveau riche, including celebrities, and, in 1996, Cruella De Vil, the villain in a Disney movie.


Which classic Anglo-American car gave the world the double overhead camshaft?

The Ford Escort was born in 1968, but Cosworth gave it the signature four-cylinder DOHC engine that it would go on to improve into the Escort RS1600 two years later, giving it an astounding 115 horsepower! That may not sound like much now, but considering that big, heavy muscle cars often had 200-300 horsepower, a light little economy car with 115 horses was nothing to sniff at.


This 1970s British compact had a name that made it sound like an Italian musical term. What is it?

The Austin Allegro was not a sophisticated car, despite its name. It was a car that, while commercially successful, became the scapegoat for the problems in British auto manufacturing. Coming out of British Leyland during an era marred by slapdash quality control and questionable engineering, buying one of these was a roll of the dice.


This car played the part of the Durango 95 in "A Clockwork Orange." Which car do you think it is?

Another kit car based on the Hillman Imp, the Concept Centaur GT Probe, looked like a space ship and sounded very cool, but it wasn't very high tech, sporting a frame that was parts plywood and GRP. Its strength was its looks. The car looks amazing, and it's a shame there are only a handful left. One of them was the very model used in "A Clockwork Orange" as the hero's "Durango 95" sports car.


This unusual car was made throughout the 1970s, then resurrected from 1989 to 2001, despite everyone loving and hating it at the same time. Can you name it?

Reliant's Robin is one of the strangest cars ever to hit the road. It was created in part because, due to being drivable with a B1 class driver's license in the UK, it could be classified under the law (for insurance purposes) as a motorbike, meaning it was very cheap to run. It was also, with one wheel in front and two in the back, horrifyingly dangerous to drive.


Which British car was noted for its styling, named for a city in Spain, and made under an American badge?

Almost a quarter million Ford Granadas hit the road in the 1970s. Ford's European division was looking to put some rather uninspiring cars in the past. It came up with this genius bit of styling and engineering, which ticked all the boxes for drivers who wanted something nice, but a bit different.


This commercially popular car died due to a corporate reorganization in the 1970s, and had a sporty version called The Magnum. What was it?

When GM started buying European automakers, it always had in mind an integration plan that would lower costs. When GM brand Vauxhall released the Viva HC in 1970, it was well-liked and among the top-selling cars in the UK, but it wasn't long for this world. GM merged operations between its European divisions in such a way that the Viva became the Muerte.


Which of these cars was powered by Cadillac, but designed by an eccentric who loved the Tyrrell P34?

Panther is a wacky company that was once run by an eccentric visionary who did what he liked. The Panther 6 was a perfect example of this. It was based on the six-wheeled F-1 car, the Tyrrell P34. Mid-engined, it was powered by a twin-turbocharged 8.2L Cadillac V8 and featured such interior amenities as electronic seats, electronic windows, a fire extinguisher, television, and, wonder of wonders, a phone! Only two were made.


This potent sports car had the looks, the name, but sadly not the built quality to make it the coolest car of the 1970s. What was it?

The third generation Jensen Interceptor was the variant that came out in 1971. It was a monster, with a V8 that guzzled gas, and it had sharp looks and a very cool name. Sadly, it was built during a particularly nasty stretch at British Leyland, and it's even odds if any two Interceptors have the same steering rack, or interior trim, or really much other than the engine and body panels. Quality control wasn't the car's strong suit.


Do you have the information on this British masterpiece, made by a small company in the south?

Bristol is a tiny British car company, and when we say tiny, we mean it. They have one showroom in the whole world. One. They make very few cars for a handful of crazy, wealthy fans. Powered by a big block B-series Chrysler engine, which came in to replace the A-series engines Bristol used to use, and producing 400 bhp (30% more power than the engine in its predecessor) the 411 remains a valuable, eccentric classic of the 1970s.


This car sounds like it should have a machine gun mounted under the hood. Sadly, it only had 31 bhp there. What car is it?

Bond cars (no relation to James) was purchased by Reliant, and in 1970, a project started by its new parent came to life in the form of the Bond Bug microcar. The fancy version with the "big" engine had 31 bhp, while the economy model only had 29. It was a two-seater based in large part on the Reliant Regal, and its prototype was little more than a chopped down Reliant.


What are there only 509 of, that look amazing, and are based on a 2+2 built from 1972 to 1976?

The Jensen-Healey was a lovely, lightweight sports car with great looks, that did its best to save Jensen from the havoc wreaked by the oil crisis, which badly hurt Jensen's V8 sports car's sales. The Jensen-Healey was rushed into production, and as soon as it took off, they made a shooting brake version, the Jensen GT. It was great looking, but with Jensen's business troubles, only a small number of these barely modified Jensen-Healeys were ever made.


One automaker made this car as a way of testing out new technology, and it was only made in left-hand drive. Do you know what car it was?

Aston Martin is a company that looks to its past and its future at the same time, so it's only fitting that the Bulldog had a TV mounted in the dash, displaying a video feed from a camera in the rear, instead of a mirror. It was a concept car, pointing the way to the 1980s, with 700 bhp, a terrifying top speed, and only one example. Aston Martin demonstrated the car to show what they could build, then sold the only one to a private buyer.


This car started out in one identity but went on to live under many badges. Which was it?

The Hillman Avenger was an also-ran of the 1970s. It was a good car, but not as popular as its major rivals from the likes of Ford or GM. Over the years, it was sold as the Hillman Avenger, the Chrysler Avenger (in the UK), the Talbot Avenger, the Plymouth Avenger (in the US) and the Dodge Avenger (in South America). It was the spiritual antecedent of the Dodge Avenger, a middling sedan of the 21st century.


Which of these classic British cars was a direct response to a niche market of WW2 veterans?

Though initially produced from the late 1940s through the 1960s, it was the 1970s that saw the Invacar, originally built for disabled WW2 veterans (hence the name), come into its own. In the 1970s, it was made larger, with wheels from the mini, a much newer, more powerful selection of engines, giving the tiny, fiberglass car a top speed of 85 mph, exactly the thing 1970s Britain wanted.


This bonkers car was mid engine, with the engine in the front, and bodywork made of GRP (glass reinforced plastic). What car was it?

When TVR retired the Tuscan and the Vixen in 1972, they were replaced by the TVR M Series, a car that looked great, encouraged drivers to get themselves into trouble. The high end 3000M came with the 3.0 L Ford Essex V6, which made 148 bhp out of the Ford factory. The TurboS version added 20 mph to the 120 mph top speed of the 3000M by replacing fuel injection with a carburetor in a pressurized box on top of the engine, adding a turbocharger, and moving the exhaust manifolds so they exited forward.


This British car was a rear-wheel-drive car competing in a front-wheel-drive world, and people loved it, though today, most hate it. What car is it?

British Leyland had to take on the Cortina, with its mighty sales figures, but Ford was much better funded (and run) than Leyland. The result was a half-baked car made out of the spare bits and pieces British Leyland had around for other cars. While the vehicle is not very good at just about anything by today's standards, even looking good, it was a hit and sold almost as well as the Cortina in the 1970s.


Which car with a cool sounding name was made by a company famous for forgetting to attach all the wheels of its cars?

Reliant may be more famous for other, more eccentric cars, but the Reliant Scimitar, be it mostly normal, has a history all its own. It had a Ford V6 engine. It was marketed as an executive car. It was less than successful, with a badge that didn't scream luxury and an engine that, in the end, was only 135 bhp. The final generation of Scimitars was so unpopular that only 437 were made.


This "First British Supercar" beat Ferrari in performance figures, and everyone in looks, but what car was it?

Though the V8 Vantage shared an engine with the polarizing Lagonda, the V8 Vantage's version was better. It had high-performance cam shafts, a new manifold, and bigger carburetors, giving it a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds. To compare, the recently sunsetted Chevy SS had a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds but was made in the 21st century, with the engine from a Corvette. No wonder Bond loved this car.


This 1970s British kit car was based on a major hit but made by a company other than the one whose name it bears. Which is it?

Not made by Mini, and not made by Marcos as of the 1970s, the Mini Marcos was made by the unfortunately named D&H Fibreglass Techniques Limited in that era. A kit car based around the running gear of the Mini, the Mini Marcos was much better looking. It was sporty, with a BMC-A from the mini powering it. Its main claim to fame came in the Marcos days in 1966, when it was the only British car to finish Le Mans.


Which car was conceived in 1972, and spent the whole of the decade being redesigned, coming out in 1979 and lasting into the 1980s?

AC Motors's 3000ME was based on a very cool prototype sports coupe called the Diablo, running on an E-series engine. By the time AC was ready to put it into production, no E-series engines were available to buy for it, so it languished. When they tried to relaunch it in 1976, it failed a crash test and needed a major redesign. When it finally went into production in 1979, it was far behind its competition, which included the Lotus Elise, and it didn't sell well.


What car was made in Washington by Lotus engineers, based on a Hillman model?

Clan was a very small company, started by ex-Lotus engineers who wanted to make their own version of the Hillman Imp Sport, a car they thought could be so much more. The Lotus brain box behind the Lotus 72 designed a fiberglass monocoque chassis to which the drivetrain, suspension, and engine from the Imp were added. Like most great British sports cars, its looks are polarizing, and it wins with lightness rather than power, packing a paltry 51 bhp.


Which 1970s car, originally designed by Giovanni Michelotti, was a relative of the Spitfire?

The Triumph GT6 was around from the early 1960s, but 1970 saw the last generation, the Mk III. It was more aerodynamic and had a good engine, but the engine's compression ratio had to be adjusted for U.S. models (due to lower octane fuel), putting a damper on the power. Despite its cool factor, the car succumbed to the production of the more desirable MGB.


This car defined a segment and continues to dominate sales to this day. What is it?

Land Rover always made excellent off-roaders, but they were always spartan affairs, designed as much for mud-covered soldiers as they were for plus-fours-wearing-men in wellies shooting pheasant with their labradors. The Range Rover finally separated those two segments of the market, creating the first SUV, a capable off-roader that wasn't a nightmare to be in.


This car would begin a revolution in technology that continues to this day, the spiritual 1970s predecessor of the Tesla, only with a much cooler name. What was it?

The Enfield 8000 was Frankenstein's monster. It had a rear axle from Reliant, suspension from Hillman, doors from the Mini, lead-acid batteries and an 8 bhp engine that, at least, got all of its torque at 1 rpm. It wasn't popular, with only 120 built in the UK, most of which were owned and used by utility companies, mostly in the south of the UK. Still, this tiny tuna can on wheels was the beginning of a trend that continues to this day, with electric cars.


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