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U.K.: British Auto legends

British Auto legends celebrates some of the most stylish   and ‘cool’ british motor vehicles revered throughout the world. 2013 sees the 150th anniversar y of the bir th  of Sir henry Royce, motoring and aviation pioneer who founded Rolls-Royce with Charles Stewart Rolls. It is  also the centenary of the founding of Aston Martin.

The stamp issue explores two kinds of legendar y cars – the thoroughbreds from  the 1960s and 70s, many of which  feature in exper ts’ lists of the greatest cars of all time, which are complemented  by four b ritish workhorses – all classic and iconic vehicles.

Superb examples of the six thoroughbreds  were located in vir tually factor y fresh conditions, and all were photographed by the exper t car photographer James Mann, involving specialist lighting and set up to capture the classic lines of  the vehicles.

one of these workhorses, the Morris Minor van in Royal Mail liver y, is the contribution to the Posteurop theme  of 2013 (the post van).

for a countr y of such small geographical  stature, great b ritain’s role in shaping
the histor y of the automobile cannot be  underestimated. from the kernel of the ‘horseless carriage’, grew an industr y that once accounted for a quar ter of  the world’s car production and almost half of all vehicle expor ts. Today, car manufacturing remains a significant par t of the b ritish economy with several  marques currently enjoying record sales. however, the road to prominence was littered with potholes.

An astonishing 221 firms entered the industr y between 1901 and 1905.  from this jumping off point, the b ritish motor industr y began to flourish,  with the likes of herber t Austin and w illiam Morris applying mass production techniques as they bid to bring motoring to the masses. however, it was only af ter the end of Second world war that the u K truly became a car manufacturing powerhouse.

Initially afflicted by shor tages of raw materials, the b ritish motor industr y soon found its feet as governmental controls channelled the supply of steel to firms that expor ted 50 per centlater 75 per cent - of production. The term ‘ e xpor t or d ie’ was seared into the  collective consciousness.

by contrast, france, Italy and germany’s motor industries had suffered grievously and took considerably longer to recover from the conflict. b ritish firms were all too happy to exploit this situation and expor t sales surged with demand in  europe, as well as Nor th America,  resulting in record production figures. Add in commonwealth countries where there was a ready-made market and it is little wonder that the b ritish motor industr y was in the driving seat.

u nfor tunately, this situation could  not last. A mixture of political intrigue,  shotgun weddings between former  rivals and union unrest ser ved to  bring the industr y to its knees.  Sell-offs and plant closures would  become watchwords in decades to c o m e ,  culminating in the collapse of   Mg Rover in 2005. Yet for all the pain and pratfalls, the b ritish motor industr y continued to build landmark classics

while also creating and exploiting niche markets – this is the nation that invented  the spor ts car af ter all .
Today, there are just seven volume  producers and they are all foreign owned. Never theless, these and other,  smaller manufacturers continue to  build cars that appeal on the global stage; brands that marr y style with ingenuity and quality with refinement.

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Acknowledgements:  Jaguare -Type image is reproduced by kind permission of Jaguar; design of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow cour tesy bentley Motors l td, grille and Spirit of ecstasy appear cour tesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars l imited; the image of the Aston Mar tin db 5 is reproduced by kind permission of Aston Mar tin; M g M gb  appears cour tesy M g Motor u K; Morgan p lus 8 image is reproduced by kind permission of Morgan Motor Company; the image of the lotus esprit is reproduced by kind permission of group lotus plC. Stamp photography, James Mann.



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