1950s British Cars

When the Triumph TR2 debuted in 1953, it became clear that the British motor car industry was going to be a force to be reckoned with throughout the rest of the fifties. The Standard Motor Company produced over eight thousand of these cars in the short, two-year production time, but the car’s sleek, smooth lines and status as a true 100 mile per hour sports car made a lasting impression. The Sunbeam Alpine coupé was another of the best loved 1950s British cars that emerged on the market in 1953. The car gained notoriety, winning the Monte Carlo rally in 1955. The Alpine was even driven in an Alfred Hitchcock film, “To Catch A Thief,” starring Cary Grant and the elegant Grace Kelly.

British auto manufacturers continued to prove themselves in the decade that followed. Jaguar cars were especially fast and beautiful during this era. The 1954 XK120 is particularly prized. The alloy body and ash frame were only produced in small quantities, making this a very rare car. The car came in three separate body types–the open two-seater, or OTS model, the fixed head coupe, or FHC, and the rarest form, the drophead coupe, a true convertible. The convertible body style boasted a walnut veneer dash and trim, padded canvas top, and fixed wind screen. Jaguar continued to build a reputation throughout the fifties, producing hit luxury car after hit luxury car.

Other notable manufacturers in the fifties included Austin and AC. Austin, produced the Austin Seven. This car is better known by a later name–the ever popular and long-enduring Mini. This car, in various forms, still continues in production. Austin began producing the car at the end of the decade, in 1959. One needs only to look at the road to see that the popularity of the car still persists. AC, marketed the beloved Ace two-seater beginning in 1951. The two litre car, fast for the time, and reaching speeds of over 103 miles per hour, is now worth up to $400,000 in a fully restored condition, making the Ace a very desirable car. Even Ford Motor Company played into the great boom in British autos in the 1950s, through the British operation of the company. The Zephyr, a British design, was the largest passenger car available in the British Ford line.

The fifties were an incredible era for the success of British auto manufacturers. Today, British motor cars produced in this time period are highly valued and feverishly sought after by a great number of collectors.