Blog : What cars would you like to see next?

Jaguar XF

It’s that time of the year again and I’m getting all reflective about the future of AROnline. With that in mind, I think it’s worth saying that the site’s in good health, and we’re still drawing in a healthy amount of readers. Long may that continue.

We have some brilliant Contributors here and, with the new I was there series of recollections from the coalface, it feels like my ambition to record as much as I can for posterity has cranked up a gear. The Memories articles still give us cause to chatter, look back and consider a world from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s that’s looking increasingly alien these days.

But like all living, breathing things, AROnline needs to evolve to stay healthy. So, I’m thinking about the next round of cars to add to the site’s development stories. These are the backbone of the site, and I’d obviously like to add the next generation of cars to its line-up.

So, if there’s anything you’d love to see, or think we’re missing, then post it in the comments – new ideas are always welcome. I know we have gaps like the Morris Minor, Triumph Spitfire and the BMC Farina saloons, but there’s not much left to write about those – and they will get their place. I’m more interested in what’s next, with cars like the Jaguar XF (above), the Vauxhall Nova (below) and the Ford Focus still not nearly well enough covered…

The site’s name and branding, AROnline, is something I’m also looking at moving forwards – how does bestofbritishcars.com sound to you? Does what it says on the tin, don’t you reckon? Let me know what you think.

I hope 2023 continues to be as successful for the site as 2022 has been…

Keith Adams

53 Comments

  1. Sounds a sensible name based on future plans. Would love to see the development story of the Galaxy mpv, I have great memories of mine, especially the brilliant tdi 130 engine.
    Great site, please keep going.

  2. How about the Vauxhall Senator, not much remembered now, but the 1987-93 version was a seriously good car that was loved by motorway police and managing directors alike for its huge performance from its 24 valve engie and German build quality. It was a car that was just as capable as its more prestigious rivals from Germany, sold in decent numbers, but its badge meant most ended up as bangers.

    • The Senator & Carlton were very good cars, my Dad reckoned his two company Carltons were the best cars he ever had!

      It’s a shame that Vauxhall / Opel seemed to run into a difficult period when they replaced them with the Omega, which was never as good, especially the early ones. My Dad had two & really didn’t like the first, but the facelifted one was better but not up to the standards of the Carltons.

  3. Let’s add the Rootes Group vehicles. There was plenty of industrial drama in that outfit as well and some very classic cars.

  4. I’d like to see some mark 3 Ford Granada/Scorpio content, perhaps including the ill-fated US market Merkur Scorpio and the questionable 1990s facelift of the UK/European market car.

    Excellent cars with an interesting story which are fondly remembered by many people.

  5. As a big fan of AROnline since launch, I agree it’s probably the right time for a change in name. I doubt there’s much more to say on BLARG products than the vast array of info already here, whilst more is rightly being added on other marques, so this should be reflected in the site’s name. Best Of British is OK, but of course every British car us documented here, not just the best. What about British Cars Yesteryear or similar? I’m sure there’s something snappier!

  6. Hi.

    Some suggestions.

    The story of the Ford Dagenham plant.
    From conception to present day.
    But also cover the impact it had on the local community, again from conception, through the halcyon days when lots of people probably moved to the area, housing was developed, etc, through to the impact of it’s closure.

    Same with Rootes/Talbot.
    (I believe Linwood is only just getting back on its feet, some forty years later, after the plant shut.

    Reliant as well please.

    Thanks.

  7. Hi.

    How about a speculation article.
    Get regulars to give their ten penneth worth on something, if they were in charge.

    For example, if you were in charge of Rover, how would you have kept our car industry alive, to the point it would still be going now.

  8. How about trying to get some interviews with people who worked at Honda, during their collaboration with Rover.
    Get their point of view of what is what like, as we have the point of view from those who were working with Rover.

    Maybe some more in depth stories,from those who worked during the years that Sir Michael Edwardes changed things, up to and including the Honda years.

  9. How about getting regulars to come up with ideas, for fun, if they were to start up their own British car industry empire.
    Something the size of Rover.
    What ranges would they have?
    What would be the names?
    How would they compete?
    Where would the plants be based?
    Etc.

  10. Feature as many British cars as you like, that have not been done to death already, but leave the name as it is. The name is well known, and that drives traffic to the site. You do not want to lose that.

    The fact that the name doesn’t or won’t reflect the content doesn’t matter. It’s aronline, it doesn’t say austin rover, in the same way that GE don’t call themselves General Electric any more, nor do they sell light bulbs now, but they haven’t changed their name to more accurately reflect what they do offer.

    • GE and aronline can hardly be compared! General Electric is a multinational conglomerate founded in 1892 and utterly embedded in the American national consciousness. I know – I’m a British expat who has lived in the States for 27 years. The name rolls off the tongue like General Motors and apple pie.

      Actually GE does still make light bulbs – billions of them – but alas not here any more.

      • GE Lighting is not part of GE, its owned by Savant Lighting, after GE sold it in 2020. In fact GE itself’s breaking itself up, with the original company concentrating on aerospace.

  11. Two of the least successful British-built cars of modern times – the Infiniti Q30 and the spectacularly poor-selling QX30 (~300 registered in the UK).

    Plus the original British-built (was it in Cowley ?) Honda Legend.

  12. I love reading about all old cars, not just British ones. But when I read other sites, it’s just not ARonline. I like your flow, thoroughness, pictures and comments, and that articles are added to as new information arrives.

    So why not build up articles on anything over 20 years old?

  13. If I was to suggest an area which hasn’t been covered enough, then it would be Land Rover in general after it was split from MGR, as it inherited far more of the “Rover Group” than MGR, considering that it took Gaydon as well. Indeed I’d be fascinated to learn more about Gaydon, from its BL days up to the present JLR ownership, especially with the Museum and Aston Martin also occupying parts of the site!

    The history of the Vauxhall Nova is of interest, but its relevance to a “Best of British Cars” site is pretty low, indeed the various Luton made vans from the Bedford CF to the current Vivaro have a stronger claim!

  14. How about more on Vauxhall? Cars like the Victor FE and the start of the companies Opalisation. Lot of intrigue and internal politics to dig into there I would think. There is a lot of stuff on the Vauxpedia site although that’s not the easiest to navigate

    • I’m glad someone else thinks that. It’s not just me. Vauxpedia has the potential to be as good as ARonline, but it’s one of the worst designed websites I’ve ever come across. It’s like something from the late 90s; I’ve frequently given up when I’ve tried to read something on there.

  15. I would certainly expand the site to include other car companies, but as far as I’m aware, it’s still the go to place for Austin Rover and BL etc lovers so I’d keep the name. So by all means, talk about other marques, but I would hope that all the Rover stuff stays as the backbone.

  16. I still have affection for the AROnline name but bestofbritish is okay and moving with the times.

    For future additions, how about pages on Japanese brand but UK built cars like the early Nissan’s made in Sunderland and Toyota’s built in Derbyshire? Perhaps the former Honda Swindon works as well?

  17. Now that time has passed, how about completing the history of LDV? The story of the Maxus is an interesting one.

  18. Speaking of British vans, surely the Ford Transit, Britain’s biggest selling van of all time, deserves an article, as well as its contemporary, the Bedford CF, which was a very familiar sight in the seventies and eighties and was often converted into an ambulance. We’ve had Leyland and Commer from this era, but these vans were just as important in the van scene and the Transit sold in huge numbers for decades.

  19. More Lotus. Especially the stillborn Elan M90. Possibly F1 or GT racing, as Britain has lead the way and lot’s of tech has trickled down into the road car.

  20. British: Jowett Javelin & Jupiter, Riley Pathfinder, Armstrong Siddeley post WWII models. To name but a very few
    Outside UK: How about Saab?

  21. BestofBritish name change is OK, but there are already quite a few very interesting non-British articles (e.g. Simca 1000). Can we have a development story on the Peugeot 505 and what about some mainstream Japanese – Previa, Bluebird, Stanza.

  22. Perhaps it is worth approaching the owner of Vauxpedia on the inclusion of Vauxhall/Bedford (and Opel/GM Europe) content, whilst approaching the likes of Steve Saxty and others for the Ford content?

    That said not sure on the idea of broadening the tent even more unless they are linked in some way to BLARG, Rootes/Chrysler-Europe and smaller UK marques. Maybe Honda, Nissan, Isuzu, Saab and others could be included given their ties to the British Car Industry. On top of filling any gaps or another omissions in terms of models and other projects.

    Perhaps commercial vehicles could be explored further since little details exist beyond a few articles. Maybe an article or few about unrealised or ill-fated attempts at establishing an overseas presence in places like North America and India in the case of Austin or France in the case of Morris? Also touching upon the links between Austin and what eventually became the Jeep prototype.

    Am sure there is more that doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

  23. How about a look at how the Japanese manufacturers became established in the UK?

    Similarly as it’s been 40 years since Hyundai started selling the Pony here, this might be worth a feature how they established themselves in the UK.

  24. Keith:

    What’s always drawn me in are stories you can’t get anywhere else, specifically the design and development of vehicles that made it into production (including the designs that weren’t picked), but especially of the ones that didn’t. Central to this are photos and drawings to show what was — and what could have been. This extends to powertrain, etc., and would work well with most any contemporary vehicle as well. The trick is to dig under the surface, and not get caught in the spiral of company speak and PR blather that obfuscates what really went on behind the scenes. (Not always easy to find, I know.)

    A real treat (for the reader) would be to set Mr. Nichols loose on a amulti-part novella looking at how close a company (especially those covered by AROnline’s original remit) came to getting it right before it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. And while that would be a good title for it, it also could be called, “How Did They Mess That Up?” or similar.

    This is a great site, and I have enjoyed as you have stepped out onto new branches and expanded the focus.

  25. Sorry, I meant Here Here, to Lucy P’s comments about changing the name of the site, and all her other great points!

  26. How about histories of the various plants in the country, and the communities that rose around them?
    Longbridge,Gaydon, Linwood, Solihull, Halewood, Speke, Swindon, Sunderland, etc?
    Think I have already said this.
    Apologies.

    Also, what about the history of Sherpa?
    Don’t think that has been covered.
    As far as I know, Sherpa became Freight Rover, then LDV.
    Must be loads to cover on that topic!

  27. More on Fords of the 60s-90s and Rootes>PSA would be great! I love the development stories, seeing pictures of prototypes and learning why cars turn out the way they did. Aronline and Vauxpedia cover this brilliantly for BLARG and Vaxuhall. The depth of sources and detail you guys access is great.

  28. How about the inclusion of Morris Commercial vehicles (relevant now with the planned production of the JE Van) and earlier cars from the marques that came together to form BMC/BL?

  29. Casting the net to include other marques like Bristol AC Lotus and TVR is thought. I know you have some stuff on the site but there must be loads more. Going back earlier could be interesting and on thing missing (or maybe I’ve just missed it) is the Volvo coupes built here in the sixties and seventies.

  30. I think I tend to agree with LucyP and Andy about changing the name of the site, aronline is so well known and loved? by us all-it would be a pity to loose it. Two of the historic pubs near me have changed their name over the last few years but all the locals i.e. the majority of customers still refer to them by the original name! Also bestofbritishcars.com ? much as I love them to bits, no pun intended, I not sure some of BL’s cars would come under that heading!

  31. The Mark 2 Ford Escort, the big rival to the Allegro and the Marina, is worthy of an article as this is an example of how a smart, contemporary looking car with very conservative engineering managed to totally outsell the more advanced but ill fated Allegro. Not just the done to death sporting Escorts, but the mainstream Escort that sold to everyone from Radio Rentais to the police.

  32. Not sure about the name ‘bestofbritishcars’ – the motor industry has been multinational for a very long time, there’s already cars on the site that aren’t remotely British and cars we consider British but have substantial input from elsewhere (and possibly built elsewhere – the suggestion of the Vauxhall Nova for instance). The name would be as ‘inaccurate’ as aronline. aronline reflects where the site has grown from, and its core purpose of documenting a massive part of British life (Austin Rover and its predecessors / successors) that will increasingly dim in most peoples’ memories. It’s good to evolve and expand, but there’s value to the site as a well-written and well respected record of a very significant part of the country’s industrial heritage – I think maintaining that as the site’s core makes sense.

    The Vauxpedia site has lots of info too but I agree with others that it’s nigh-on impossible to navigate. aronline is already an improvement on that, but I wonder if there’s scope to push WordPress’s abilities to make something more interactive to get across to people the sheer scale of the connections between the companies and interesting ways to navigate the information about the different vehicles. Maybe, too, more information about the factories and the huge infrastructure that once supported the industry? I think having features about other cars (both street furniture like the original Focus and Golf and the output of the UK’s more esoteric smaller manufacturers) would be interesting too, mainly because given the authors on here it’ll be written in an accessible and engaging style. There are other sites dedicated to other manufacturers, though – it’d be nice, for example, to see cars on this site linked to the backstories of their contemporaries on other sites where they exist.

  33. Agree with keeping up with more modern development stories. Jag & LR especially, due their shared, but sometimes, divergent histories. And maybe more from the Rootes group.

    I’d also be interested in some stories of factories, not just the ‘BL’ ones, but Honda, Citroen, Nissan etc. Anyone who has made cars here, and especially some of key locations for design and manufacture that aren’t so well known. Shoreham & Worthing in Sussex, for example.

    One further thought – a where are they now for some dormant brands? And a round up of any rumours that have been attached to them. Or does that already exist on here? There’s already so much information!

  34. I would like to see the remaining Ryton Cars covered as in the 309,405, 306 and 206.

    I know with have the Tablot Arizona (309 Concept), but I think 405, 305 and most of all 206 needs covering as that was the most popular private car in the UK at the start of the century and saw Ryton return to 3 shift working, the first time since the Avenger in 71.

    Sadly Ryton died with the 206 and it is no more along with the Stoke plant.

  35. How about a feature on the Vauxhall Victor in all its guises, as this range of cars lasted for 21 years and at one time was Britain’s most exported car?

  36. I would agree with others who want to keep the AROnline name. It’s distinctive and fitting, as BL Cars/ARG is the “core” activity of the site.

  37. I certainly think more should be written about Land Rover vehicles, so I am happy to contribute with articles on various Land Rover vehicles. Featuring articles on the Honda offerings ‘shared’ with Austin Rover Group and Rover Cars would also be of interest, such as the Ballade, Legend, Concerto etc. I’d even extend it to the Honda Logo supermini which, if Honda and Rover had still been linked with Joint Venture Agreements when it was launched, might have formed the basis of a creditable replacement for the Rover Metro/100. With Honda no longer assembling vehicles in the UK, perhaps there might be a few Honda engineers willing to discuss some of the models they were involved in at Swindon or prior to that when some Honda models were built at Cowley or Longbridge?

    What about some of those independent specialists who have worked with the likes of ARG and MG Rover Group, such as TWR and Tickford?

    Finally, AROnline itself feels like a brand in its own right and it is certainly internationally recognised. In the last ten years it has also been increasingly cited in the reference lists for numerous published academic papers, mainly in the field of business, economics and economic history. Therefore, changing its name after more than 20 years of building it up to its current status would seem like a backward step…

  38. What about more on the likes of Scammell and Alvis military vehicles made during the Leyland years?? Or the Austin Champ / Gypsy?

    And the history of Pressed Steel Fisher subsidiaries like Prestcold and BEAGLE aviation.

  39. Another thought on what to cover: how about the post-Ford vehicles produced by JLR? They’re probably the most frequently seen vehicles on the roads today that can trace their heritage back to the BL/Austin/Rover times.

    Evoque? Discovery Sport? RR Velar? the new Defender? All more relevant than yet-another-article on Montegos.

    An article on the Ingenium engines would be interesting.

  40. Despite appearing a silly idea on the face of it, would it be possible to eventually incorporate British Motorcycles down the line beginning with stories relating to the British Motor Industry (via the Bert Hopwood and Steve Koerner books plus others)? Since as with the British Automobile and Commercial Vehicle industries over the years, all three industries have their own similar what-ifs and blind alleys.

    For example there was the time David Garside fitted a Norton Wankel rotary engine in an Metro that was said to out-accelerate an MG Metro Turbo as well as one or two other cars. While in Williams Lyon’s biography during the war Edward Turner reached out to Lyons, offering both his services as well as proposing starting a new venture to eventually make motorcycles before soon joining BSA in 1942.

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