The British are Coming

Cars and motorcycles from across the pond


In the years immediately after World War II, and well before the Volkswagen Beetle, the British auto industry really invented exporting to the U.S. This exhibit looks at cars both high and low, from the historic Bentleys of 1930s Le Mans fame to the cheap, cheerful MGB that was the world's most successful sports car. It will cover not only Englnd's enduring legacy on wheels--sports cars from MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey, Sunbeam, and others--but also a few of the small, simple sedans that sold in volume during the Fifties and Sixties. And it will discuss how and why the British auto industry imploded in the decades from 1968 to 1998, when exports to the U.S. fell to a handful of luxury models: most notably Jaguar and Range Rover. Cars from the new century play a role too: With BMW's revival of the Mini Cooper in 2002, a British icon returned to the States. Now, with a new Jaguar XE sedan on the way, we may again see a British car resurgence. A notable part of the show will be the sports cars that defined British motoring to generations of Americans, from the first MG TC through the last Triumph TR8. We'll include a few now-forgotten Austins and Morrises to show the other side of the industry, and we'll look at some of the failures, too. The show will appeal both to those who appreciate the finest and most classic automobiles and the millions of Americans who once owned, drove, or remembers the great British sports cars of the last century.