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Scotland’s mark on the car industry is greater than some people realise. In fact, the very first pneumatic tyres were pioneered by a Scotsman called Robert William Thomson, and later refined by another Scot, John Boyd Dunlop.
Car manufacturing in Scotland has had its ups and downs over the past century or so, though it has still managed to produce some exceptional cars that deserve remembrance. In this article, we take you on a journey through the gems of forgotten Scottish-built cars and what made them so special.
So without further ado, here’s our list of the best Scottish cars.
For many Scots, the Hillman Imp was the first car they ever owned. As a small economy car, it was designed after the Suez Crisis forced manufacturers to create cars which used less fuel.
Created by British company, Rootes Group, much of the manufacturing of the Imp took place in a factory in Linwood, in the Scottish Lowlands, and many of the workers were locals – leading the car to be labelled as a Scottish car. It was first produced here in 1963, though manufacture was unfortunately plagued by stoppages and disputes.
The car is best remembered for being the first mass-produced car in Britain to sport an engine in the back, and it boasted a host of other innovative features that weren’t seen again until the 1970s, such as an automatic choke and temperature gauge – it also was excellent to handle, thanks to a low centre of gravity.
Production ceased completely in 1975, and now the car can only be purchased via classic car dealers.
The Argyll Motors factory in Alexandria became world famous for its ambitious and innovative car designs, particularly in the first decade of the 20th century, and produced some of the best cars in Scotland while also being appreciated around the world. Their success is attributed not only to their products but also to their relentless marketing, ensuring their name was known across the globe.
Among their achievements included being the first company ever to use four-wheel braking technology. Being ahead of their time, however, came with costs that Argyll were unable to meet, leading to their eventual liquidation in 1932.
The very first car they produced was the Argyll Voiturette in 1899, which was the company’s version of the contemporary Renault. It was fitted with a 2.75 h.p De Dion engine and other features that labelled it a car of the future at the time. Argyll vehicles may be remembered as some of the best Scottish cars but they can now only be purchased from classic car dealers.
As a subsidiary company to Arrol-Johnson, the car maker Galloway had the perhaps not-so-catchy slogan of “cars made by ladies for others of their sex”. Indeed, the Galloway factories were unusual for the 1920s, as they were managed and staffed almost exclusively by women. With a factory first in Kirkcudbrightshire and later Dumfries, the director Dorothée Pullingar set up apprenticeships and training for local women to be employed at Galloway.
Cars back in the 1920s were large with awkwardly-placed controls, making it difficult for women to comfortably reach controls and operate the vehicle. The Galloway, however, was designed with women in mind and was lighter with smaller controls, easier-to-reach gears, a lower dashboard and many other design features to cater for the generally smaller female physique.
Despite their pioneering approach to female-centric car manufacturing, the Galloway factory closed by 1928.
One of the most successful Scottish car manufacturers was Albion Motors, which ran from 1899 to 1972. They become known across the world for their excellence in engineering and dependability. In 1900, the company made its very first passenger car, a motorised wooden dogcart, and subsequent releases were upgraded with more powerful engines.
Albion eventually expanded into the manufacture of buses and commercial vehicles which steadily became their main focus – their trucks were used by companies throughout the country, as well as Australia. The company no longer exists, but their legacy remains strong in Scotland, even making it into a Mark Knopfler song.
Scotland’s car manufacturing industry has been virtually non-existent since the 1980s – that was, until Raptor Sports Cars Ltd created its first vehicle in 2015. Founded in East Lothian by Andy Entwistle, the company specialises in motorcars.
Their core design puts great emphasis on being exceptionally strong yet lightweight, and this includes the incorporation of light and powerful engines. Driver comfort and safety are also top priority for them, and as a new company, Raptor Sports Cars Ltd hopes to grow and expand into the future by adding more cars to their range.
If your classic car is in need of professional windscreen repair or replacement, look no further than The Windscreen Company. No matter the make, model or age of the vehicle, our specialists can replace glass on the same or next day, letting you get back on the road in no time at all.
We serve a wide area of the South East of England and we now offer our services in Scotland as well – simply get in touch to discuss your vehicle.
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