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Mini tops British poll of best British cars of all time

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Photo courtesy BMW AG.

A poll by British motoring magazine Auto Express to determine the 50 best British cars of all time has put the classic 1959-2000 Mini in the number one spot, edging out the Jaguar E-type and the Land Rover Series/Defender ranges. Those polled included unidentified members of the magazine’s staff, as well as 10 “expert” judges from the car manufacturing industry.

“There surely can’t be anyone in Britain whose life hasn’t been touched by a Mini,” the magazine says. “Throughout its marathon 41-year production run, the car become an icon of British innovation, a fashion accessory and a motorsport hero that also brought affordable motoring to the masses.”

In coming up with their choices, the judges were to consider “sales success, groundbreaking design and unbeatable performance,” according to the magazine. Below are the rest of the top 10. Found among the rest of the ranks are the Lotus Elan, at number 12; the Jaguar Mk2 (#22), the Ford Cortina (#26), the MGB (#28), the Austin-Healey 3000 (#29), the Jaguar XK120 (#31), the AC Ace (#38), the Jaguar XJ6 (#46) and the Triumph Herald (#50).

Making the list: the De Lorean (#20), the Nissan Qashqai (no, really, #11) and the Vauxhall Astra Mk 2 (#49), a rebadged Opel Kadett E that was also sold as the dreadful Daewoo/Pontiac Le Mans. Not making the list: Any Triumph TR, the Bentley 4.5-Litre, the Austin Sprite/MG Midget and any Allard.

How does this look from a U.S. perspective? Leave your comments below. You can read the full list at Auto Express‘s website.

10: 1996-2001 Lotus Elise

Photo courtesy of Lotus.

“The car’s weight was half that of a small family model, and it redefined sports cars with its exceptional dynamics.”

9: 1967-1975 Ford Escort Mk I

Photo courtesy of Ford.

Judge’s verdict: “The Escort brought high-performance motoring to the masses, and essentially coined the phrase ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’.” – Jonathan Burn, news editor, Auto Express

8: 1957-present Caterham / Lotus 7

Photo courtesy of Caterham.

“Launched in 1957 as a kit car, it proved huge fun to drive and offered amazing performance from a humble Ford saloon car engine.”

7: 1964-1969 Ford GT40

Photo courtesy of Ford.

“The GT40 was a car fuelled by revenge. When Enzo Ferrari scuppered Henry Ford’s plans to buy Ferrari in 1963, Ford decided to hit the Italians where it hurt most – on the race track.”

6: 1970-1996 Range Rover Mk 1

Photo courtesy of JLR.

“The Range Rover…could justifiably be called the first crossover and luxury SUV.”

5: 1992-1998 McLaren F1

Photo by Darin Schnabel, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

Judge’s verdict: “The Aston Martin DB5, Jaguar E-type and Lotus Elan take the top spots for pure beauty, style and class. They could really be in any order – but the McLaren F1 is the car many would love to own.” – Graham Hope, editor, Auto Express

4: 1963-1965 Aston Martin DB5

Photo by David LaChance.

Judge’s verdict: “The DB5 has to be every Englishman’s favourite, thanks to James Bond. I also had a wonderful Matchbox toy car replica when I was seven years old.” – Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global Buick and Global GMC

3: 1948-2016 Land Rover Series / Defender ranges

Photo courtesy of Hemmings.

Judge’s verdict: “The Land Rover really is one of a kind, a true icon of British auto history. A car that was in production for 67 years, virtually unchanged, deserves to be on the podium.” – James Disdale, chief reviewer, Auto Express

2: 1961-1975 Jaguar E-type

Photo by Michael Furman, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

“Inevitably the iconic E-Type leads the way; it’s a car that helped define the sixties. However, the richness of British design can easily be evidenced in the list itself.” – Andy Goss, Global sales director, Jaguar Land Rover