The United Kingdom is the birthplace of some of the world's most prestigious car brands -- and some of the industry's greatest failures, such as Austin, DeLorean, Healey, Riley, MG Rover and Triumph.
After some difficult years and despite a looming recession, the United Kingdom's auto industry is on the rise. The brands leading the way -- Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini and Rolls-Royce -- no longer are in British hands, but they still produce nearly 100 percent of their vehicles in the United Kingdom.
Car buyers don't seem to mind that the brands' owners are based in Germany, Kuwait or India. Five of the six brands have achieved record sales since 2007.
Mini and Rolls-Royce reported record global sales in 2011. By 2015, Jaguar Land Rover wants to increase its yearly deliveries to 300,000 units, from 274,460 in 2011. Bentley aims to double its sales to 15,000 vehicles with its current model line.
"The British car industry is experiencing a real renaissance because of a focus on British automotive culture, design, sportiness and a premium-luxury positioning," said former Porsche sales boss Klaus Berning.
In London, one might believe British cars rule the high-end auto world. That is not the case. The United Kingdom's six main premium players accounted for combined sales of a little more than 574,000 vehicles last year. By comparison, Mercedes-Benz sold 1.2 million vehicles in 2011.
"But still, the British brands' revival is remarkable," said Berning, now a consultant.