The ultimate in British cool is a car named after somebody called Trevor

First Newsweek tags London the world's coolest city; now Vanity Fair says that "London Swings Again!" If you ask me, London isn't all that different from a few years ago, but if a couple of middle-aged American mags say that it is suddenly great again, then I guess it must be true.

According to Vanity Fair, icons of cool Nineties London include Gazza (a Geordie), Manchester (eh?), Bjork (who comes from Iceland) and Ruby Wax (who's about as British as the Vauxhall Corsa she promotes). And if you really want to get depressed about the state of modern British icons, there are also mobile phones, ecstasy tablets, Loaded magazine and Liam and Patsy. But what about the cars?

The E-type Jag and the Mini were massive Sixties statements, as much a part of the trendy times as Twiggy, Ossie Clark's chiffon dresses and Carnaby Street. The E-type was a mobile sign of sexual liberation - a thrusting, phallic-shaped sportster that was also one of the fastest cars in the world. The Mini was the first British classless car, as likely to be driven by Peter Sellers or Lord Snowdon as by a stevedore from Skegness. As for cool transport in the Nineties, the only mode that gets a mention is Virgin Atlantic Airways Premium Economy.

Restaurants, fashion, music, magazines: they're all booming in the Great Wen. But as for cars, London apparently swings with all the vitality of a traffic jam on Putney Bridge.

Is this a reflection of our neutered motor industry, now foreign owned and largely a manufacturing site for cars designed and engineered elsewhere? Or are the self-styled arbiters of swinging Nineties coolness giving the poor old car business short shrift?

The Mini is just about worthy of another plug, in the same way that Terence Conran gets one again. They're both Sixties icons still going strong. But while Conran keeps reinventing himself, the Mini really is on its last wheels. The only people who love it now are the Japanese, and that's because it's now Brit traditional, not Brit radical. Which means it just isn't chic any more.

No other Rover product is cool, either, though the MGF almost qualifies. It has an androgynous quality - rather like many Britpop stars - and is a fine sports car to drive. But it's more Marks & Spencer than Alexander McQueen.

More smiling is the Ford Ka (OK, it's made in Spain, but was partly developed here). It is cool and has a beguiling pout - rather like Patsy Kensit in a bad mood - but is a bit too Fisher Price from some angles. Close, but not quite.

What about the E-type's successor, the Jaguar XK8? It looks great, and drives great too, but its styling is too derivative. The host of British- made Japanese cars, of course, do nothing to imply British trendiness. Quite the opposite. They define a nation obsessed by practical, everyday, utilitarian virtues: a nation of shopkeepers. There is nothing cool or trendy about Vauxhalls (and very little British about them, either). Pink Rolls-Royces are no longer made for latter-day Lady Penelopes or John Lennons; Astons and Bentleys are too trad and conservative.

No, there's only one make of car that's in tune with the modern British Zeitgeist, even if the editors of Vanity Fair have probably never heard of it. It's a car that's loud, unreliable and uncouth - just like Liam Gallagher. Yet it has a perversely classical twist, like a Paul Smith suit. It is made in a factory that's dirty and down-at-heel, rather like Camden (the Nineties Chelsea, according to Vanity Fair). And it's as flag- wavingly nationalistic as a crowd of Gazza groupies.

Finally, in keeping with its working-class origins, this car is an abbreviation of the name of one of its founders: a bloke called Trevor. So hats off to TVR, that dyspeptic, belching, brutish, eye-catching, fast, laddish sports car, sold mostly in Britain because so few other world car markets would tolerate its foibles. Like Liam and Patsy, Loaded and Gazza, TVR makes you proud to be British!

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

    Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map