British sports cars have an almost cult-like following, with several fan-clubs dedicated to these quirky little cars.
Admittedly, there is a lot to love about them, especially when you look at what Caterham have been doing with the old Lotus 7 platform and what Lotus themselves have achieved with the Elise. Sadly, those are more the exception to the rule, because the vast majority are actually pretty awful, and it came as no surprise when the British automotive industry pretty much collapsed all those years ago.
All too often under-engineered, almost always lacking power, these Brits spend more time on the side of the road than actually on it.
8 MGA Twin Cam
Easily the most frustrating part of these cars was the fact that they came with a defect that took decades to fully understand.
Their carbs would froth fuel at a certain rpm, causing a list of different, sometimes, terminal issues. Over the years, these engines would likely have been rebuilt several times and by now it is hard to tell what you are getting, especially if the car is affordable.
7 Triumph TR7
In a desperate effort to boost sales, Triumph went all out to comply with North American emission and safety standards.
Between the big bumpers and the lack of power, it is hard to say which made it worse, but the combination of the two certainly did a number on the little car that could have been so much more.
6 Lotus Europa S1
Caught somewhere between a sports car and a breadvan, this is one odd looking little duck. It certainly has character, and we can understand why people love this mid-engine sports car.
Unfortunately, these classics are equipped with a Renault engine, which was not the most reliable option. The Twin Cam came out in the early ’70s, and that is an entirely different animal.
These are beautiful little cars, and they’re equipped with a genuine Lotus engine they are really easy to love. Unfortunately, they have several things holding them back.
The first is a relatively easy one to fix. To make the most of the Lotus engine, you need to change out the carbs for either period-correct DellOrto carbs or similar Weber carbs. The other issue is that the wiring was supplied by Lucas, hence, it came with factory equipped gremlins. Unfortunately, the one thing that cannot be remedied is the shoddy build quality.
4 Lotus Esprit
Arguably one of the most iconic British sports cars ever made, this particular Bond car really looks the part of a supercar and can be had for hatchback money.
The cars going for those low prices are not going to be all that rewarding. In fact, we speculate they will just be frustrating. As good as these cars look, that body is made of fiberglass, which will definitely need work when it gets to over 40 years old. Underneath the fiberglass is a metal frame that rusts, and then once all that is in the clear, you have to once again fiddle with Lucas wiring.
3 Triumph Stag
We will need to take our hats off to Triumph for attempting to build their own engines. Unfortunately, their effort was mostly in vain as these engines were infamously unreliable as the actual block would end up warping.
This time we can’t fault the wiring too much, because the mechanical side of the car would fail long before you had to worry about the lights being a bit dim. Just to rub salt into the wound, the 3.0-liter V8 only made 145 horsepower on a good day, or about as much power as a contemporary V6.
2 Jensen Interceptor
The Interceptor is a true British muscle car, but just like all the cars on this list, it suffered from shoddy build quality, and yep, you guessed it, a Rover V8.
At one point the old Buick designed engine had found its way into just about every kind of vehicle, from luxury sports cars to Range Rovers. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t all that good. It overheated, was pretty thirsty, and didn’t deliver all that much power.
1 MGB GT V8
Few cars in this world have as dedicated a following as the MGB. It is the quintessential British sports car and will deliver that experience in every possible way.
Again, that rover V8 makes a guest appearance, but in the MGB, that was quite frankly the least of its concerns. Ironically, the aluminum V8 was lighter than the archaic 4-cylinder option (not necessarily a complement to the Rover). What really ruined the MGB was the absence of rustproofing. Almost criminal when you consider this was a car quite literally made on an Island!
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