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MG Rover is to build a new luxury high-performance sports
car for next year, writes David Knowles.
The surprise announcement was made after the Le Mans 24-hour
race that MG Rover had acquired part of the business interests
of the Qvale Automotive group, which manufactures the low-volume
but US-certified Qvale Mangusta at a factory in Modena, Northern
The new MG - codenamed X80 - will be based on the Mangusta's
highly regarded chassis and engineering, coupled to a Ford
4.6 litre V8 engine which produces up to 380 bhp.
The X80's styling is the work of MG Rover's design director
Peter Stevens, and confirms hints given when the EX257 Le
Mans car was unveiled that it signified future MG design directions.
Note in particular the grille aperture, with a slim central
horizontal bar. (Stevens told us previously that he was worried
that the MG grille shape risked becoming too much like a Pontiac;
this is clearly his solution) as well as the triple headlamps,
a feature also seen on the MGF XP500.
The MG X80 will give the MG brand a world-class product in
the high- performance luxury sports-car sector. Both coupe
and roadster versions are planned, with manual and automatic
Kevin Howe, chief executive of MG Rover said: "The X80
will be an excellent fit at the top of our family of MG cars.
It also provides an opportunity to look at markets in which
we are not currently represented. In particular the USA, the
World's largest sports-car market, where we can now seriously
evaluate the full potential for the MG brand."
Bruce Qvale, president of Qvale Automotive group said: "MG
Rover showed an interest in our Mangusta project in Modena,
and we have since agreed a very good deal for both sides.
The power of the MG brand now takes the project forward on
a global basis."
The Qvale Mangusta is the most recent chapter in a long career
for the Qvale family. The business, which was founded by Kjell
Qvale in 1947, has grown over the years to encompass both
car sales (including, incidentally, the US's first west-coast
MG dealership) and manufacture.
The Mangusta styled by Marcello Gandini (designer of the
Lamborghini Countach and Diablo), began as a joint project
between the Qvale family and DeTomaso Modena S.p.A in March
1998 to build a new sports car using the Ford Mustang's 4.6-litre
V8 engine, echoing the DeTomaso Mangusta of the 1960's. Both
the Qvale family and Alessandro DeTomaso, father of the DeTomaso
marque, had second thoughts about this arrangement, though,
and so a divorce was arranged in March 2000. The project continued
under the Qvale name and the car was manufactured in Modena.
The following specification of the Mangusta gives a revealing
taste of what to expect from the MG X80.
- Ford 4.6-litre dohc 32-valve V8 with multi-point sequential
fuel injection and twin throttle bodies.
- Power: 320 bhp at 6,000rpm.
- Torque: 314lb/ft at 4,800rpm.
- Top speed circa 160mph, and 0-60 in around five seconds.
- Five-speed manual Tremac T45 gearbox driving the rear
wheels via a BTR speed- and torque-sensitive hydraulic limited-slip
- Programmed production in the range 300-500 cars per annum,
including European and US sales.
- US price $69,500 (around (£50,000).
This news item was published in the August/September 2001
issue of MG World and is reproduced here with the kind
permission of the Editor of MG World (May 2002).