The 1960s brought a wave of high-performance British sports cars, many of which could hit 100mph. Here are our favourite examples of the breed
Triumph Spitfire Mk3
The Mk3 Triumph Spitfire was arguably the best of the whole Spitfire range. It brought with it a revised front end, a new soft-top hood that was easier in operation and of course, the biggest upgrade, the 1296cc engine under the bonnet.
The engine features an eight-port cylinder head that was based on the FWD Triumph 1300 which resulted in a jump in performance which saw the Spitfire hit exactly 100mph flat-out.
Whether or not you’d want to spend much time at that speed in a Triumph Herald-based sports car is a different matter – but there’s still loads of fun to be had in any Spitfire if you have access to a closed circuit.
The MGB needs little introduction here. Over an 18-year production run it went on to become the best-selling sports car of its time, which in turn defined British open-top sports cars the world over. In its day, the workings of the MGB were entirely up-to-date, which put it ahead of its rivals both in driver appeal and looks. The 1.8-litre B-series engine mated to a four-speed manual with overdrive was enough to allow the early MGBs to climb to a top speed of 105mph.
Today the cars enjoy a huge amount of support across the industry, meaning that should you wish to take on a project there’ll be plenty of parts to choose from. And if you want to go even faster, there’s plenty of scope for tuning – from simple engine work to thorough modernisation courtesy of companies like Frontline Developments.
The Lotus Elan was something of a giant-killer and is still revered today as a legend. While the Ferraris and Lamborghinis were going on to crack colossal top speeds, the likes of the Elan dominated the middle ground for a suitably reasonable asking price.
While flamboyance was left to the Italians, Lotus focused on light weight and so needed only average power. This meant that a 115mph top speed was strong for its value, but more importantly, its acceleration up to this figure was enough to write home about.
Austin Healey 3000
Technically introduced in 1959, the Austin Healey 3000 was a powerful, handsome and deeply desirable sports car when it arrived – and it certainly still ticks those boxes today.
Its 3.0-litre straight six was powerful enough to push the Big Healey to 100mph – an impressive milestone at the time. Over the course of a number of updates throughout the 1960s, the AH 3000 gained more power and more ease-of-use updates – but even the original was capable of breaking the 100mph barrier by quite some margin.
The Austin Healey 3000 has since become one of the most sought-after British sports cars, and with good reason. It’s hard to imagine a better take on the classic recipe.