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Classic Cars

Lola Turns Fifty

On Sunday 12 October, an estimated 10,000 spectators packed the streets of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire to support Lola Cars landmark 50th Anniversary parade of racing cars. The impressive display of 16 cars represented the marque’s most iconic models from the past half century through to Lola’s all-new 2008 designs. Some of Lola’s most successful drivers were reunited with the winning line-up of cars supporting Lola’s Golden celebration. The Lola legends included John Surtees OBE, Richard Attwood, Hugh Dibley, Teddy Pilette, Chris Craft, Mike Blanchet, James Weaver, Julian Bailey, Anthony Reid and Peter Ashdown. Current racers included Le Mans Series driver Mike Newton, Malaysian A1 Grand Prix driver Fairuz Fauzy and Danny Watts. At midday and in brilliant autumn sunshine, Councillor Saeed Akthar, the Mayor of Huntingdon, waved the Union Jack to officially start the parade from Lola’s state-of-the-art headquarters in […]

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Aston Martin

Lighting Car – Is It Just Flash?

It scorches from 0-60mph in less than four seconds, its batteries can be charged in ten minutes and you can imagine James Bond sitting behind the wheel. But will the über-stylish electric Lightning car ever make money? Earlier this year, entrepreneur Iain Sanderson unveiled the Lightning Car at the British International Motor Show. The 48-year-old Sanderson is a marketer, not a motorhead. He made his bucks through marketing agency Dynamo, which he set up in 1990 and sold a decade later for £20m. Rather than opting for retirement, Sanderson set up London-based Contact Group, which has six different marketing agencies under its wing and pulls in sales of £12m. So what on earth made this millionaire marketing guru develop a battery-powered sports car? Two years ago, Sanderson bumped into his old friend Arthur Wolstenholme, long-time maker of the Ronart series […]

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Corporate Business

Plans To Double Longbridge Workforce

The Birmingham Mail is reporting that Longbridge is back up and running with a vengeance with plans to more than double the MG UK workforce at the car factory within 12 months. The Chinese owners of the famous Birmingham car plant aim to beat the financial downturn with proposals to hire more production, paintshop, sales and marketing staff and others during 2009. And discussions are under way over the transfer of around 250 designers and engineers currently based at the Shanghai Motor Technical Centre in Leamington – a wholly-owned subsidiary of SAIC/Nanjing – to Longbridge. The recruitment plans would more than double the current workforce of around 200 based at Longbridge, at a time when motor industry jobs are under severe threat from the worst UK sales slump for over 40 years. Meanwhile, the standard version of the two-seater MGTF […]

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New Cars

Prototype MG X-Power SV-S WRC

The prototype MG X-Power SV-S WRC (William Riley Convertible) you see here is the very first and only example of the supercar. The drop top is the British maker’s second new model since the marque was bought by former racing driver William Riley from the ashes of the MG Rover collapse. Hand built at MG X-Power’s production and development centre in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, first cars will be completed by January before production is moved to a new facility in the West Midlands early next year. Customer deliveries are expected to begin in summer 2009. The SV-S is powered by a 5.0-litre supercharged V8, while the Kevlar bodywork means the convertible gains only 12kg in weight compared to the coupé. A manual cloth hood dispenses with the need for heavy mechanical moving parts, too. Every car will also come with […]

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Corporate Business

Merger Talks

Normally I don’t cover any non-UK automotive news, but this one is such a potential game changer that I had to mention it. The New York Times is reporting that Chrysler and GM are in preliminary merger talks. As the article says, “A merger would be a historic event, with two of the most iconic names in American industry coming together to survive in an increasingly difficult environment. Both have roots dating back decades in Detroit and, with Ford, long dominated the auto industry — until Japanese and other foreign car makers began making inroads into the American market.” Amazing times we live in. Oh, and on another front, I dreamed last night that MG started producing a minivan and a Hummer-like SUV. Please, say it ain’t so. I need to stop eating spicy food before bedtime.

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Corporate Business

MG Sales Hurt by SAIC Personal Changes

The sales of MG-branded cars has been badly hurt by the personnel changes at Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corp. Statistics show that MG’s monthly sales volume during the first five months of this year was not more than 400, compared with a monthly sales of about 800 units from September to December 2007. It is the frequent personnel changes Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (Group) (SAIC) launched in senior management of Nanjing Automobile that leads to the poor sales of MG, pointed out industry experts. SAIC, parent of Shanghai-traded SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. (SHSE: 600104), inked a contract to acquire Nanjing Automobile from Yuejin Motor (Group) Corp. at the end of December 2007. After the deal, SAIC launched a series of personnel changes on the senior management team of Nanjing Automobile. It appointed Huang Keji, a top executive with Shanghai GM Dong […]

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Corporate Business

Marangoni Extends Its British Profile

Italian manufacturer Marangoni has ramped up its efforts in increasing its profile in recent weeks. After the highly successful Summer show and event programme – which endeavoured to bring the brand to the forefront of the performance and tuning market – the British International Motorshow provided an opportunity to take the firm’s self-styled ‘Marangoni Brand Experience’ to the record crowds that gathered at Excel in London. The company believes that its name carries the promise of European heritage, all-round performance and value, hoping that this triumvirate of riches resonates strongly with drivers of both performance and everyday cars. Headlining the Marangoni presence at the British International Motorshow, and very much the draw on the Santa Pod Raceway stand, was the mighty Progetto Marangoni Toyota Yaris; an attraction that has been popular with British crowds all year. With the car on […]

Caterham

Avon to be official Morgan Aeromax supplier

The stunning new Morgan Aeromax has been unveiled as the latest in a long line of British sports cars to use Avon tyres as official tyre supplier. The Avon Tyres brand offers a complete range of high performance tyres that are manufactured and marketed by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company Europe. Classic British manufacturer, Morgan, chose Avon’s trusted ZZ3 as the perfect choice for their brand new 362bhp, 170mph machine, which has a 0-62mph speed of just 4.5 seconds. The Aeromax will be Morgan’s flagship model as the marque heads into its 100th anniversary year in 2009. The Avon ZZ3 was selected because of its excellent road holding in both wet and dry conditions and its predictable high-performance handling characteristics suit the powerful car perfectly. The Aeromax will use Avon’s 225/35 R19 XL 88Y XL ZZ3 at the front and […]

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Corporate Business

Fans Flock To Dealer For First MG

Fans of the MG were flocking to a Black Country Rover dealer this past weekend as it became the first garage in the western world to take delivery of the new model. Summit Garage has the car for sale following the return of its production to the Longbridge plant in Birmingham. A total of 75 cars have rolled off the production line destined for a number of garages around the UK and further afield. Enthusiasts can choose from bright orange, red and black models today, priced at £16,399. Boss of Summit Garage in Himley Road, Lower Gornal, has been inundated with calls from drivers keen to take a test drive in one of three MGs which left the factory. John Newey was hopeful of clinching a sale on the first day. “We have got a lot of people coming out […]

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Classic Cars

The Triumph Spitfire

The Chicago Sun-Times Auto section recently published an interesting article on the beloved Triumph Spitfire. The Spitfire is a great care that seems to be fading farther and farther from view. The Sun-Times article begins, “The plucky Triumph Spitfire sports car was cheap, fun and wore a body from Italian master stylist Giovanni Michelotti. It met growing demand for smaller, lower-priced sports cars from those who couldn’t afford larger, costlier ones, such as the Austin-Healey or even the Triumph TR4. It arrived in 1962 and lasted with updates through 1980 — an especially long run.” “The Spitfire got its name from a famous World War II British fighter plane. It initially cost less than $2,200 mostly because it was derived from the small Triumph Herald family car. It was developed shortly before England’s financially troubled Standard-Triumph was bought by England’s […]

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Corporate Business

Credit Crunch Hits Jaguar Hard

Jaguar has joined a growing list of car makers to cut production as the credit squeeze and economic downturn continue to hit sales. The now Indian-owned company said it was responding to market conditions by “taking a little bit of volume” out of production of the flagship XJ sports saloon – the current model of which is likely to be replaced next year – and the XK sports car. Jaguar would not spell out the extent of the cuts at its Castle Bromwich factory in Birmingham, but The Birmingham Post understands that between 200 and 300 fewer cars will be built between now and the end of the year. That would equate to about a week’s worth of production for both the XJ and XK. Production of the XF saloon car, which has been a huge success since it was […]

Lotus Evora Sport 410 a
New Cars

Beautiful Lotus Evora

According to the Economic Times, the new Lotus Evora is the best car to ever roll out of a Lotus factory. After thirteen years Lotus has finally added a new model to its existing line-up of exotic machinery like the Elise roadster which came in 1995 and the Exige, which was a coupe version of the Elise. The new model is called the Lotus Evora and the British car-maker has been working on this project for past five years. It is the only mid-engined 2+2 sportscar currently in production and it is the first model out of the three that the company plans to launch under its five year strategic plan. The bosses at Lotus have been extremely excited about this new car and some of them also commented that this is the best car ever to roll out of […]

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Racing and Competition

Will Jaguar Return To LeMans?

Might the mighty Jaguar, once a consistent winner on the LeMans circuit be considering a return to the competition? According to Autoweek, Jaguar is doing just that – considering a return to LeMans. Supposedly the new Indian parent company, Tata Motors, is evaluating a high-profile motorsports comeback. “We want to hit the Le Mans race [because] we are examining how to bring the Jaguar brand back to its earlier position,” Tata chairman Ratan Tata told Indian media.

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Racing and Competition

MG Lola Coupe Finishes Fourth

Just a few days after its first roll-out, the fully upgraded RML MG Lola EX265C completed a faultless run to fourth place in the final race of the 2008 Le Mans Series. In a six-hour endurance that was punctuated by dramatic incidents and thrilling nose-to-tail racing, the much-admired new coupé performed without a hitch, rewarding the team’s hard work and meticulous preparation with a reliable and extremely competitive performance. “I’m delighted – chuffed to bits!” said a smiling Mike Newton, co-driver of the EX265C and CEO of AD Group, principal sponsors to RML’s sportscar programme. “The guys have done an amazing job to put this car together so quickly, and to achieve a trouble-free run is an exceptional achievement.” The team had always approached the Silverstone 1000 Kilometres as an extended, if very public, test session, but poor weather on […]

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Corporate Business

New MGs Roll Out of Longbridge!

The first run of MG cars have left Birmingham’s Longbridge factory for the first time in more than three years. The cars, which departed the plant shortly after 11am on Thursday, will go on sale from September 20. Chinese owner SAIC/Nanjing began producing the sports car model, the TF LE500, at the factory last month. The Nanjing Automobile Corporation (NAC) bought the assets of the collapsed MG Rover organisation in 2005. Approximately 6,000 workers lost their jobs at Longbridge when the huge car plant closed in April that year. The return of car production to the plant has been heralded as a boost to business in the region.

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Corporate Business

MG Production Has Resumed In Britain!

Full-scale car production resumed at Britain’s Longbridge auto plant under its Chinese owners on Friday, reviving the factory which was mothballed when MG Rover went bankrupt in 2005. Full-volume production of the two-seater MG TF LE500 sports car was underway at the facility in Birmingham, Britain’s second city, giving a much-needed boost to the country’s motor industry. After 100 years of vehicle production in Birmingham, the traditional heart of Britain’s motor industry, about 6,000 jobs were lost when historic car manufacturer MG Rover collapsed. Nanjing Automotive Company (NAC) bought MG Rover’s assets for 53 million pounds in July 2005. They were taken over last year by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC). “We have all worked extremely hard to meet our commitment to commence production of the MG TF in August,” said MG UK corporate communications manager Eleanor De La Haye. […]

Electric MINI from BMW
Corporate Business

BMW To Build Electric Mini

MUNICH — BMW plans to export nearly 500 electric versions of its Mini car to California, company sources said. The electric Minis are being built at the Mini factory in Oxford, England, without engines, gearboxes or fuel tanks, then shipped to Munich, Germany, where they are being fitted with electric powertrains. BMW sources told Automotive News Europe that 490 of the Minis will be leased to selected customers in California and 10 will be used as show cars. The electric Minis are painted silver and have yellow roofs, the sources said. BMW engineers working on the electric Minis are part of a new division called Project i established by the automaker to develop low-emission city cars. The electric Minis will help BMW to meet new California regulations that will require carmakers selling cars in the state to offer zero emission […]

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Corporate Business

Date Set For MG Production

The Midlands automotive sector has received a second major shot in the arm with the news that MG owner Shanghai Automotive has told UK dealers it expects to produce 600 of the new TF LE500 models between the start of production in August and the end of the year. That came as the new boss of Jaguar told Birmingham executives yesterday that the company is staging a fight back against its rivals. He spoke out just 24 hours after Jaguar Land Rover revealed plans to launch a recruitment drive to find up to 600 new employees, less than a month after a £1.15 billion takeover by Tata Motors of India was completed. SAIC’s UK dealers says first of the new sports cars are expected to be in UK showrooms in September and price details are expected to be released in […]

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People

TVR Founder Trevor Wilkinson

Trevor Wilkinson, the founder of TVR, the small British carmaker known for nimble little sports cars that early owners often assembled from a kit, died Wednesday in Minorca, Spain. He was 85. His death was confirmed by Marshall Moore, president of the TVR Car Club of North America. The soft-spoken Mr. Wilkinson built his first car in 1947 as a race special and incorporated TVR Engineering (later simply TVR) the next year. The company name was a shortened version of his first name.

Trident Iceni
Corporate Business

Ginetta Revival Spawns Road Car

It’s a strange time for the British sports car industry. With MG’s future still in doubt, TVR in a perennial state of flux, the briefly resurgent Marcos now in administration and formerly quaint Morgan embracing BMW tech, many of the great British names have either perished or changed out of all recognition. One manufacturer staying true to its roots is Ginetta, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. With a reputation built on its highly successful sports racing cars (and road cars) of the 1950s and ’60s, Ginetta has always held a special place in the hearts of discerning sports car fans of a certain age. While the marque’s more recent history has been defined by slow decline and on-going financial strife, it survived, and is now enjoying a renaissance in the hands of entrepreneur and successful racer Lawrence Tomlinson.