Any company with a large back inventory of vehicles is going to have a few unusual jewels, and British automakers are no exception.
Since its inception, British businesses have been at the forefront of the sports car industry, and they have been responsible for dozens of the world’s most popular sports cars. Aston Martin and Bentley, for example, have a long racing history and a clientele that includes many of the world’s wealthiest people. Any manufacturer with a large back catalogue of models, however, is certain to include a few unusual jewels, and British companies are no exception.
British Sports Cars
When you add in the plethora of smaller, boutique carmakers that thrive across the UK, you’ve got a lot of low-volume cars that most enthusiasts will never see. Instead, only collectors and fans with deep pockets and connections to the proper individuals will be able to appreciate these works of automobile art up close. What about the rest of us? Most auto enthusiasts, on the other hand, are unlikely to ever witness these ultra-rare British sports vehicles in person.
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10. Bentley Java
The Bentley Java is one of the most sought-after Bentleys ever constructed, having been built during a period when the company’s future was uncertain. For years, it had relied on its traditional “gentlemanly” image, but revenues were dropping, and it needed to find a method to appeal to a more modern customer.
The Java was simply supposed to be a design study, but the Sultan of Brunei, who was at the time one of Bentley’s greatest clients, decided he wanted a couple for himself. Eighteen production examples were made, with the Sultan and his family believed to have purchased all of them.
9. Aston Martin DBR1
The Aston Martin DBR1 has become the most expensive British car ever sold at auction, with the hammer falling at RM Sotheby’s after bidding reached $22,550,000. This makes it one of the most precious automobiles on the planet, and almost guarantees that every other surviving DBR1 will be kept in its owner’s garage, where it will be kept cool.
Only five were ever made, and the one that went up for auction was the most authentic, having won the Nurburgring 1000km race in 1959. It’s possible that a DBR1 will show up at a premium automotive event like Pebble Beach in the future, but it’s quite improbable that devotees will ever be able to get up close to one.
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8. Caterham 21
Caterham is most known for producing the Seven, but for a brief period in the 1990s, the business tried to branch out with a new design. It was known as the 21, and it had most of the internal components of the Seven, with the exception of a new bodyshell.
Caterham intended to produce up to 200 units per year, however the 21 didn’t sell well, and the car was eventually discontinued after just a few dozen examples were sold. The majority of those units were sold in the United Kingdom, and it’s unclear how many remain today, but it’s unlikely to be many.
7. Mini John Cooper Works Petrolhead Edition
The Mini Cooper is easily known all over the world, making Mini one of the most successful British automotive success stories. The iconic look of the John Cooper Works hot hatch is given a boost in performance, but the ultra-limited Petrolhead edition goes even farther.
The Petrolhead Edition was commissioned by BMW Italy and has many racing enhancements inspired by the brand’s Mini Cup competition cars, but it is still road legal. In 2017, only six copies were made available for public sale, and they were all sold in Italy, making this race-bred British classic one of the most sought-after Mini variations ever.
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6. Arash AF8
Arash Farboud, a businessman and automotive designer, has been operating a boutique manufacturing firm since 1999, initially as “Farboud Limited” and then as “Arash Motor Company.” The AF8, Arash’s most recent creation, is a handbuilt supercar powered by a 7.0L GM-sourced V8.
It originally debuted on sale in 2016 and is said to be capable of speeds of above 200 mph. It’s unclear how many were produced, although Arash claims to have a production capacity of just three cars per year and also offers the larger AF10 model. As a result, it’s safe to conclude that this is one of the most sought-after British sports cars now available.
5. FBS Census
The majority of the cars on this list are uncommon either because they are handcrafted specialities or because they were modest undertakings to begin with, but things are a little different with the FBS Census. FBS was a startup company that started in the early 2000s with the goal of joining the rising ranks of boutique British sports car companies, but it failed to make it.
Why? In a nutshell, it was a disaster. The Census was named one of the ten worst cars ever tested by leading UK automobile magazine Evo, and it was described as having “dodgy handling, shabby aesthetics, [and] a harsh engine” by sister British journal Auto Express. With such harsh criticism, it was impossible for the automobile to be a success, and FBS only managed to construct a few copies before falling bankrupt. On the plus side, buying one is currently the cheapest and oddest way to purchase an ultra-rare British sports car.
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4. Jaguar XKSS Continuation ’16
The renowned Jaguar D-Type was never supposed to be a road-legal automobile; instead, a companion model, the XKSS, was developed. Despite plans to build 25 units, Jag only sold 16 since the remaining 9 were destroyed in a manufacturing fire in 1957. Jaguar said in 2016 that it would recreate the remaining 9 automobiles and sell them brand new to its most devoted customers.
They were quickly purchased by unknown individuals and apparently stored in private garages. While these continuing XKSS Jaguars are impossible to view in person, two original 1950s cars are on exhibit at the Petersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles and the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands.
3. Ascari Ecosse
The Ecosse, Ascari’s first manufacturing model, is an underappreciated British modern classic. It has a Hartge-tuned BMW V8 that produces only 300 horsepower, but because to its ultra-light curb weight, it can reach speeds of around 200 mph.
Between 1997 and 2003, only 19 copies of the car were produced, and one was placed for sale in the Netherlands in 2021. Anyone who does not have the roughly $200,000 asking price for the car will almost certainly never see one in person, as they are extremely rare even in their home country of the United Kingdom.
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2. TVR T440R
Although TVRs are already uncommon in most parts of the world, they are occasionally seen at car events and on the road. The T440R, on the other hand, is a one-of-a-kind model that was recently placed up for sale by a specialist dealer in the United Kingdom.
It may resemble some of TVR’s earlier vehicles on the outside, but it’s a world apart on the inside, with an all-carbon-fiber body and a racing-derived aluminium honeycomb chassis. It has a 440 horsepower engine that is an improved version of TVR’s famous Speed Six.
1. Lotus Elise GT1
Many consider the Lotus Elise to be one of the greatest handling modern sports cars available, with a build simplicity that is unparalleled among its competitors. The Elise GT1, which debuted in the FIA GT Championship, is constructed with the same spirit but is geared for competition racing.
Lotus was unable to compete with the larger players like Porsche and Mercedes-Benz due to its low budget, and the programme was eventually cancelled in 2003. There were seven racing variants of the GT1 constructed, as well as one road-legal car. The location of this road car is unknown, while it has been speculated that it may be in storage and still owned by Lotus.
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