Video of the Day: British sports car history from 1950s through the ’60s

The BBC production traces the development of the iconic roadsters that came to America in droves

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A happy chap sits proudly at the wheel of an Austin Healey 100-4

The Video of the Day, entitled Magnificent Machines, takes a deep dive into the glorious history of British sports cars during the 1950s and ‘60s in this documentary by the BBC, which traces two-seater history from the rugged MGTC up to the superb Jaguar E-type, with stops along the way with Austin Healeys, Triumphs and other popular and affordable models.

The newsreel-style film tells how American GIs stationed in England during WWII provided the spark that first brought British roadsters to America, where they flourished and helped rebuild the UK’s auto industry.

The hourlong production has lots of wonderful driving, rallying and racing scenes from the period, and includes commentary by some of the UK’s most esteemed historians, designers and engineers. 

Toward the end of the video when the E-type is explored, the film visits with the legendary Jaguar test engineer Norman Dewis, who not only traces the development of the landmark car but regales us with examples of the colorful tales for which he’s so famous.  

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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