News : Mini voted the ‘greatest’ by Autocar readers

Once again, the significance and importance of the Mini has been recognised by car enthusiasts from around the world – withAutocar magazine’s poll to find the greatest British car of them all returning a win for Issigonis’ masterpiece. The online poll was to celebrate the best cars produced by British workers, and the result means yet another accolade for Mini.

Thereal story is the list of cars that the Mini beat to take the honour – with the Jaguar E-type, McLaren F1 and Morris Minor falling-in behind. And interestingly, no cars from Ford, Vauxhall or Rover made the top 10, despite being among the best selling and most iconic UK-built motors ever.

The poll for Autocar comes as Britain prepares to produce more cars on these shores than at any other time in its history – signalling a new renaissance for the UK’s burgeoning car industry. Although most of the manufacturers are foreign owned, the likes of Toyota, Nissan, Land Rover and MINI are choosing the UK to mass produce models, mainly for export.

Autocar‘s editor-in-chief Steve Cropley said: ‘The Mini had many faults and was never profitable, but it rewrote the rules and had the biggest impact on Britain’s car industry that any car has had. It was one of the most remarkable cars ever built, what with its seating for four plus a decent boot in its mere 10-foot length. The Mini’s influence is highly visible in every VW Golf or Ford Focus today, and the legend will live forever.’


UK factory production in 2011

  • Nissan – Sunderland – 480,485 cars
  • Land Rover – Halewood/Solihull – 238,237 cars
  • Mini – Oxford – 191,474
  • Vauxhall – Ellesmere Port – 137,971
  • Toyota – Burnaston – 128,146
  • Honda – Swindon – 97,459
  • Jaguar – Castle Bromwich – 49,932
  • Bentley – Crewe – 7003
  • Aston Martin – Gaydon – 4500
  • Rolls-Royce – Goodwood – 3538
Keith Adams


  1. The original Mini is a worthy winner.

    The first Austin 7 of the 20s was my vote.

    It was Britain’s Model T, made the Clutch – Brake – Accelator layout popular and effectively kickstarted bmw (who seem to fund most UK motoring publications) and Nissan (though not strictly under licence. Brought us gems like the Bluebird and horrible car park ding creators like the qashqow), also more or less behind the creation of Jaguar via the Swallow sidecar rebodying.

  2. I agree with Will M, although I’m a bit surprised to see the Ewok nominated as, although a good car, its a bit soon to see what kind of legacy it will leave.

    Also a bit surprised to see the omission of the Escort and Cortina, as although not techically advanced, they started a lot of people’s motoring careers. As well as the 1100- arguably a better car than the Mini, if not as iconic.

  3. I wont begrudge the mini an accolade,it was certainly not the greatest,it was radical,made good use of space,and got britain moving,it got voted the greatest so fair enough.
    Still,i would put it at no1 for revolutionising british motoring followed by The MK1 Golf GTi-for starting the hot hatch and some truly great cars from all manufactorers that emulated and re-drew the rules of the original idea.

  4. I’ve no qualms about the mini winning , I have 2 myself , but is the Jaguar E-Type better than the original XJ6/12 ?

  5. @3, I used to race Golf GTis and loved ’em, However as a road car I preferred the Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Similar performance, more interesting handling and a classier toboot!

  6. Ok many of you know that i love the classic mini and agree that is an iconic and revolutionary car, but…..butt i see that in the list something is let say wrong…first the seven is not catherham but lotus (lotus sell the rights to produce it to catehham when the VAT on cars was introduced in britain i think) But have the right to be on the list
    the Evoque???? no i dont think beacouse…it is too early to be an iconic car
    The same can be appied on the MP4/12C (without the C is the Woking F1 car of 1997….)i can not tell that is a pure state of art like the Gordon Murray F1….
    I also miss the fords (cortina escort…) rovers (sd1, 820 tomcat….) MG… ( at least the B) a bunch of Lotuses (Cortina mk 1, Elise, Carlton) and so one….
    someone can disagree but is my opinion

  7. Mmm – going to be controversial here. Just been reading British Leyland – a Car Crash. It describes in detail how the BMC front wheel drive cars, lead by the Mini effectively bankrupted the company and lead to the creation of British Leyland in 1968. Hard to see anything “Iconic” about that. But pleased to see a number of cars still in production and very much part of the UK car industry zeitgeist making the list, including the Range Rover and Evoque. Another interesting snippet in the book is how Donald Stokes tried to off load Austin Morris as Leyland imploded in 1974 and return the company to premium cars and trucks. Jaguar and Landrover being named as particular cash cows. History will judge him absolutely right!

  8. @6 i know,its just my slant on things and how i would rate cars that i would consider iconic or have moved the goalposts.I was pondering the marina as No2 for the way they flash freeze ones dentures as soon as they see a corner.
    @9.Try “END OF THE ROAD”the true storyof the downfall of rover-brilliant.

  9. Not surprised to see the Mini win the title of best car produced by British workers given its overall significnce in terms of automotive design.
    Noteworthy are the Evoque’s sixth place and MINI’s non-appearance in the top ten

  10. I am very surprised that the Rover P6 2000 is not on the shortlist, bearing in mind its modern, innovative design and ability to maintain both loyal Rover customers as well as attract a new younger breed of company executives.

    Unlike the McLaren it was far more reasonably priced in its day too.

  11. Maybe if autocar had a poll on the say, twenty most important british cars in the last 50 years things would have pegged out differently,how as a Mclaren changed anyones life? the evoque which i find stunning is sullied by the alleged star Victoria Beckham,and where is the Jag Mk2 and XJ? or indeed the P6? More than anything though im glad the BMW MINI is not on the list.

  12. @14
    The BMW MINI (or should that be Rover MINI for the original R50/53?) should perhaps be on the list for creating a completely new ‘premium supermini’ class of car, now 10 years later other car manufacturers are clamouring to grab a share of the market….eg. Alfa Mito, Citroen DS3, Audi A1, Vauxhall Adam, Fiat 500, etc.
    It was a major financial investment and risk to launch the MINI back in 2001 and BMW had only expected to sell 100,000 a year…..2.5 million MINI’s later and today production is approaching 300,000 per annum, very near the classic Mini’s peak sales year back in 1971.

  13. @9, Paul,

    The original Mini is iconic because of it’s revolutionary engineering and packaging. It was very flawed- but it was produced in a hurry. The downfall of BMC is not because of the Mini but because of piss-poor management and product planning- selling the Mini for less than it cost to make, for example, and giving Issigonis too free a rein with his other projects.

    The Mini ought to have been replaced, or at least re-engineered for simplicity long before BMC went bust.

  14. I am a bit suprised cars like the Aston Martin DB5, MGB, Austin 7, Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, Jaguar XK120 or even Bentley 4.5

  15. Bentley 4.5 litre Le Mans did not make into the top ten, but a kitcar and two McLarens did? As a forerunner to the McLaren F1 the GT40 defined the supercar.

  16. @15 you are probably right in most senses,but the fact is its not a revolution in the sense of the first mini,its certainly a sales sensation but against a backdrop of the failure of Rover and BMW’srush to offload and keep the MINI it a no from me!

  17. Its quite disheartening to see that most of the list is from the 50s/60s. Has british car production really not made anything groudbreaking since then? How about Lotus’ output?

  18. I’ve only heard of ford stating that BMC only making a loss out of the mini.
    Well, they would, wouldn’t they.
    Anybody else?

  19. I’ve heard of the all ADO16 models making more money than the Mini did for BMC/BL over the time they were in production.

  20. @ 15, 19

    Yes, I suppose the MINI is significant in that it has created a ‘premium supermini’ class and for its undoubted success. However, as you point out Francis, the way in which BMW separated it from Rover rather diminishes its appeal. It would be interesting to see how MINI would have developed as part of Rover – don’t think we’d have seen Countryman for a start.

  21. Its’ 10 years since the last Ford badged car was built in the UK. Only a few Transits out of Southampton now. Ford do make vast numbers of engines in the UK however and have a big design and development centre at Dunton

  22. I guess the reality is that the Mini won because it’s the most famous British car, but I would say too many negatives about it in terms of reliability, profitability and rejected by its target market to be called the greatest.

    E type I would consider greater, whilst like the Mini being a flawed design through limited investment (like so many British cars), it was so far ahead of anything in terms of usable performance irrespective of price at its launch.

    However the Jag I would put on the list is the original series 1-3 XJ6/12, which despite being infected by all those British Leyland issues (along with the Mini and later E types) quite simply offered by far the best combination of performance and refinement (also beautiful to look at) of any other car for over a decade.

  23. I’m sure we all have our own top ten of British built cars; i’d certainly choose the Issi Mini and Ranage Rover.

    Am i right in thinking that Citroen used to assemble cars in Slough in the 1950’s; could the ID/DS have been included?

  24. Those Ford plants that weren’t spun off into the Visteon company and closed down on their terms in a move that would make even the hard nosed business leaders at bmw blush.

  25. The current car production figures highlight how things have changed. The midlands were the home of UK car production and now Tyne & Wear is knocking spots of everywhere else.

    Many of Coventry’s former car plants are flattened and are now home to retail parks.

  26. @30 i would throw the imp in because it was better than the mini in every way-development and other issues let it down.

  27. The fact is, most people have had some sort of involvement with a Mini because it was so accessible, either by owning one or a relative or friend had one so it became a tactile object that people can relate to. E-Type Jaguar may well have been good, but very few people had the privilege of having one in their daily life, which is why the Mini is the clear winner.

  28. Rovamota has hit the nail on the head and has written what I came on here to write !
    Loads of people have driven a Mini , but how many of those who voted in the survey have actually driven a Jaguar E-type ?
    I once sat in a motionless one !
    I think the E-Type has been put on a pedestal by those who have never driven one .
    Was it that good ?
    In truth I cannot answer that question .

  29. The E type will always be a important car from a styling standpoint if not a drivers car-which it isnt.I wouldnt want to venture upto 150Mph in one,but for a serene amble in monte carlo im sure it would be it would be fine.

  30. No 33 – Ian

    The point is that they were voting for the greatest British car, not the most well-known or driven the most. The Mini wins in terms of fame, but I would argue that its commercial and design failings limit its claim to be the greatest British car.

    The E Type has a better claim as it was just so far ahead of anything for even twice the price when launched. Yes its mythology has kept it on a pedestal by those who have not driven it, but it was put on that pedestal in the first place by the industry when it was launched including Enzo Ferrari.

    However the two cars I would put alongside it as the greatest and may be even greater. They are the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and the Jaguar XJ6/12 Series 1 – 3 (another of Enzo favourites). Because they were recognised at the time as being quite simply the best cars in the world, in both cases nothing came close to matching their all-round ability for over a decade.

    Its say’s though a lot about the British motor industry that all four of these cars were kept in production well past their sell by dates though.

  31. I took one of my Mini’s – Boris the Morris – into Norwich town centre on Friday. Admittedly Boris does have 87 bhp on tap, but for my money the Mini is still top of the tree when it comes to urban cars. Low down torque, pulling where a K-series would stall, instant response and direct steering.
    Great fun !

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