Car production in the UK accelerated ahead last year to its highest level for four years.
And the number of cars made for export reached an all-time high, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
A total of 1,464,906 cars were made in the UK in 2012 - a 9.0% rise on the 2011 figure.
Of these, more than 1.21 million were made for export - a 7.8% increase on 2011 and the best year ever.
Commercial vehicle (CV) production fell back last year, dipping 6.8% to 112,039.
Engine production, at just under 2.5m, was 0.3% down on the 2011 total.
The year-end car production total was boosted by a 6.2% rise in December compared with December 2011, but CV production slipped almost 19% in December 2012.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: "2012 was a very good year for UK car production with record levels of exports and volumes at their highest since 2008."
He went on: "The outlook for 2013 remains positive with demand in many faster-growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies.
"The £6 billion of investment committed to UK facilities, new model programmes and research and development signals a bright future and many new opportunities for companies in the supply chain.
"These remain extremely challenging times and it is essential industry and government continue to work together to secure long-term industrial growth."
Business secretary Vince Cable said the figures were "a great tribute to our manufacturing strengths, particularly in the face of challenging trading conditions in Europe and strong international competition".
He went on: "The UK is achieving success by making products that are in demand across the world. We have a diverse and innovative automotive sector with some of the most productive plants in the world and a flexible, skilled and committed workforce.
"The government is creating a highly supportive business environment to ensure that UK manufacturers continue to flourish as well as encouraging further investment in the UK automotive sector, including the supply chain.
"There is no room for complacency and to build on this competitive advantage we are working jointly with the auto sector on a long-term industrial strategy."