Chinese owners pledge that UK will once again build MG cars.

MG may again build sports car at its historic Longbridge site – starting in August. MG’s Chinese owner, Nanjing Automobile Corporation, said yesterday that the MG TF LE500, a reworked version of the MG TF, would start production.

NAC acquired the MG brand after the MG Rover collapsed in 2005, and has made repeated promises since that it will make the classic two-seater soft top once again, as part of a re-born range of sporty cars. A network of 50 dealers was recruited and, originally, NAC promised that the cars would reach showrooms by last autumn. But then things went quiet, with NAC blaming delays on supplier and tooling problems.

And earlier this year the project suffered another setback when the company commissioned to build the LE500’s body panels signalled that it had withdrawn from the project. Meanwhile, the MG factory at Longbridge in the Midlands has been pulled down and replaced with a business and retail park, although part of the site has been retained by NAC. The company says that it intends to base its European sales and marketing departments there.

But the company says it has now overcomes problems and initially, NAC intends to build just 500 TFs, each with a 1.8-litre, 135bhp engine. The LE500 will have leather seats and will be an individually numbered limited edition. The first cars are due to reach dealers in September.

NAC has also said that work is beginning on a new generation of MGs at a new design centre the company has established at Leamington.

Stephen Jury


May 9, 2008

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