Here are two blasts from Britain’s not-so-glorious motoring past at the auctions in Japan today:
At one point, this was one of the most expensive cars in the world. The list price of the base model was almost $360,000 USD when it appeared in its 5th makeover in 2000 when it was thoroughly antiquated and the carcass of Rolls Royce Bentley was about to be torn in two by the BMW and VW groups. However, production had effectively come to an end in 1995 with the last 25 turbocharged Corniche S models.
While it may have represented opulence and style when it debuted in 1971, it was considerably out of date by the 80s, such that it is surprising it even made it into the 90s at all. This one is a 1992 LHD model with 90k miles on the odometer. The exterior is not in great shape either. Quite reminds me of a once-stately home long neglected by an increasingly impoverished aristocratic family.
This next car is sad for a different reason: Whereas Rolls was taken over by a new parent and given a fresh lease of life, the UK’s ailing Rover / MG struggled from crisis to disaster – finally winding up being bought out by the Chinese as nothing more than a shell of what had been a world power in the automotive industry.
The MG ZT represents one of the last gasps of this dying giant: A reworked version of the moderately well-received 75, giving it a more sporty edge, and pushing the MG name to prominence to try to revive a more exciting image. This 2005 model in the auction today must have been one of the very last of these.
But for all the sadness over the demise of this former behemoth, there is much to be celebrated in the UK car manufacturing scene these days: Landrover and Jaguar, McLaren, and of course, Rolls and Bentley with numerous smaller specialist makers as well are leading the way in their respective niches. Perhaps foreign ownership is not so bad after all?
(c) Integrity Exports Co. Ltd. – Japan car auction buyer and exporter.