Iconic Cars of British Prime Ministers

Since news broke last month of the upcoming general election, candidates have been debating (well, perhaps not all of them), responding to voters questions and generally giving us many enjoyably awkward moments on the campaign trail.

Great cars like great prime ministers share similar characteristics - dependable, good in a crisis and iconic.To put that to the test Lookers thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the cars that defined the Prime Ministers of days gone by. But who has the most interesting automotive history? Get ready to vote.....

Winston Churchill

According to a BBC poll Sir Winston was the greatest prime minister of the 20th century. The colourful leader, who held office twice, was credited with leading Britain to victory in the Second World War. Known for his iconic cigar and ‘V’ for victory salute, he was also closely associated with the Land Rover Defender. Back in 2012 a Land Rover which was built for the former PM’s 80th birthday, was sold at auction for £120,000. The 1954 Series 1 Land Rover was registered as UKE 80 in the name of the "Rt Hon Sir Winston Spencer Churchill KG. OM. CH. MP. Chartwell, Westerham, Kent".

Winston Churchill and his Land Rover Defender

Margaret Thatcher

The car industry featured heavily during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership. A hugely controversial figure, she is nonetheless acknowledged by experts as saving British Leyland with a £2.9 million bail out. This support saved brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini from extinction. The marques, once owned by British Leyland, are now thriving under foreign owners with models regularly featuring in most popular car polls (which is the best kind of poll in our opinion). The Iron Lady was pictured in many cars during her premiership, although fascinating secret papers released this year detail some concerns over her involvement in the launch of the Rover 800. Anyway, here is some 1983 footage of Mrs Thatcher driving the new Austin Maestro from Number 10.

Harold Wilson

It’s said that Harold Wilson has the best electoral record of any Labour leader and served as Prime Minister for a total of eight years, a 20th-century record until Margaret Thatcher took office. While Churchill was known for his cigars, Wilson’s tobacco craving was satisfied by his pipe – he was rarely pictured without it. On the policy front he enacted social reforms in education, health and housing. And on the car front, he drove a 1967 Vanden Plas. The Austin built car, which featured a fold-away picnic table and a quick-launch function in the gear box, sold at auction in 2015. The asking price was £25,000. A snip by comparison to Churchill’s Land Rover.

Harold Wilsons 1967 Vanden Plas Princess R

David Cameron

David Cameron was Prime Minister from May 2010 until July 2016, leading a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government from 2010 until 2015 and then continuing as Prime Minister from May 2015 leading a Conservative government. Most likely remembered for taking Britons to the polls to vote on the future of EU membership, the former Etonian was also the youngest prime minister for nearly 200 years. A conservative to the tips of his toes , his taste in cars is more, shall we say, eclectic. From the Nissan Micra through to the Honda CR-V, MINI (see below) and the Lexus GS450h hybrid this former PM has taken many cars for a spin over the years. His Prime Ministerial car was a Jaguar XJ Sentinel - an armoured version of the elegant Big Cat.

David Cameron in a Union-Jack adorned MINI

Tony Blair

Who is Mondeo Man? According to Tony Blair who coined the phrase, he was the kind of 30-something middle income homeowner whom Labour needed to win over from the Tories in 1997. Never actually pictured driving this popular Ford model while PM, he was regularly seen being driven in a range of state cars both here and abroad. Here is an iconic Ford Advert displaying 'Mondeo Man' in action in Venice.

Did they all make great prime ministers? Well, that's certainly not for us to say. What's quite clear is that the cars they are seen in often come to define the era in question.

By Tracey McBain