The 7 coolest forgotten British sports cars
Anyone remember Blockbuster? I'm assuming you will because I'm still mourning over their collapse back in 2013. There's still an empty premises a couple of miles away from my home and it's such an emotional thing to drive past.
I know that makes me sound like an old fart, but I just adore all things nostalgia. I'd kill to have the original Nintendo games back rather than the constant wash of high-graphic Call of Duty or Fortnite nonsense you see today.
I guess this is how a lot of people aged over 50 feel about Britain's sports car industry; because for a while, we were pretty much the best at the game. Come the mid-70s and the arrival of the MK1 Golf GTI, and they all... pretty much died. I may only be 19, but I find it a huge shame that so many great names faded into the mists of history.
Of course, a lot of people still remember the various MGs, Triumphs, Healeys etc. Even by parents, as they owned several over the years. But there were many that completely flew across people's minds. Here's a selection of 7 of the coolest (in my opinion);
Everyone remembers TVR's prime years in the 90s and early 00s. Crazy paint options, swoopy dashboards, quirky controls and engines with savage levels of power and torque figures. I'll never forget the time I rode in a 4.5 litre Cerbera and held on for dear life.
Before all of that though, the brand started out with the more humble Grantura. Early MK1s had tiny little 1.1 and 1.2 litre Coventry Climax engines, but later ones were upgraded to the proven BMC units found in both the MGA and MGB.
Made using a glass reinforced plastic shell, the Grantura was extremely light and proved to be a great platform for later, more powerful TVRs of the 60s - such as the Griffith - which was to come with Ford's powerful 289ci V8.
This sexy 2-door arrived in 1961 and was originally designed for Israeli car company, Autocars, before Reliant decided they liked it so much, they sold it in Britain as well.
It was initially offered with a 4-cylinder engine from the Ford Consul, but later on in the Sabre 6, a 2.6 litre six cylinder from the Zodiac became available. Top speed was now upped to 110mph which was shifting back in the early sixties.
Despite high praise from motoring magazines, including Autocar, the Sabre simply didn't sell well. Only 208 cars were ever made and only 77 of those were the six-cylinders.
This gorgeous-looking thing was actually a very well-established sports car underneath the skin: a Triumph TR3, no less: sharing the same 2.0 litre engine, chassis and running gear.
Built in a facility in Slough that once specialised in armoured vehicles in WW1, the Peerless GT was - quite by accident - brilliant.
It entered the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1958 and finished first in its class and 16th overall. This was a fabulous achievement by a start-up brand, considering they only wanted to showcase its speed and capability.
Based off that success, orders came in like hotcakes. But because the facility was so small, they couldn't build enough cars to meet customer demands. Only 325 were ever made by the time the company went bust in 1960.
This is the only car on the list which was available as either in bits or fully assembled... from factory!
But nevertheless, the Tailsman was Tornado's shot at making a 2+2 sports car and was a very capable little thing: you had a choice from either the 1.3 or 1.5 litre Ford engines tuned by Cosworth, and a similar rear suspension setup to a Formula Junior car.
Despite the fact this was Tornado's best-seller, only 186 of these rare gems were ever made between 1962-64 before the company shut its doors.
They were however, immensely capable in the world of competition and highly rated by magazines of the time. They still remain fairly popular in racing to this day.
The G10 is probably the most fascinating sports car that nobody knows about: it was designed to compete against the mighty AC Cobra and used exactly the same 289 Ford V8 engine.
It kicked out an enormous 350bhp and this was pretty tense in a car that weighed only 900kg. Not to mention it shared the same doors and windscreen as the MGB.
In the right category, it was a class act. It blitzed said Cobras and even the lightweight E-Types, but American governing bodies refused to homologate the G10 in the GT class (where it was aimed at). And instead, they had to run it in the prototype class alongside Lolas, McLarens, GT40s etc. where it simply couldn't make the cut.
Interest was lost among customers, as no orders were taken and only 3 examples were ever built.
Talking of Ford V8s, a lot of people seem to have forgotten that AC didn't just make the Bristol, Cobra etc. They also made 81 examples of a stylish gentlemen's cruiser which to me, looks almost exactly like a Maserati Mistral.
The body was crafted by Fura and originally meant for Monteverdi over in Switzerland before a few complications took place. But nevertheless, AC had it and the 428 was born.
The chassis was merely a lengthened version of the Cobra's, but the huge 7.0 litre V8 wasn't quite the same since it wasn't the 427ci motor built for all-out speed, but rather the toned-down 428ci unit made for cruising. Though some 428s did come with the 427 and were subsequently very fast...
Gilbern had already started off making cars back in the late fifties, but it was in the mid-sixties when they decided moving upmarket would be better. And so, the Genie was born.
Quite a lot of MG bits were used; including the rear axle and steering rack. Though thankfully, the leaf springs were ditched in favour of a coil setup. You also had a choice of two engines: a 2.5 or a 3.0 litre version of Ford's brilliant Essex unit.
The Invader was essentially an updated Genie, in which the 3.0 litre engine became the only option alongside a few styling tweaks. When the MK2 version of the Invader arrived, the track had widened and the front suspension setup from the MK3 Cortina was used - meaning better handling.
Best of all however: an eye-wateringly sexy Invader estate was produced. And that's a car that I've always wanted more than my next coffee.
It's just a shame that only 193 Genies and 603 Invaders were ever made. I reckon they deserved a better chance.
Thanks for reading
So, there we are. Seven great British sports cars that just seem to be completely forgotten about. If you want to add anything, feel free to throw it in the comments!
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the article and perhaps you'll go away feeling a little bit more educated on Britain's once-great sports car industry.