It seems that British car firms have all the perennial
tenacity of Japanese knotweed; no sooner is one
cut down thananother one springs up in its place.
AC, Lea Francis and Healey are three names that
appear to be long deceased but linger on in a state
of suspended animation. Nothing, it seems, can defy
the power of nostalgia. It would be easy to dismiss
the latest name to be resuscitated, that of
but this time it is more than faith that is bringing life
after death. In fact, this is not really a revival but a
The original company, Connaught Engineering, was founded in the early 1950s as a racing car constructor. The name is redolent of the ancient
The new firm, Connaught Motor Company, has only the name in common with the original although it is just as ambitious in its technical aspirations. This is not another nostalgic revival of a quaint old British marque but a bold attempt to take sports car design into an oil-starved future. Nor is it thrown together from borrowed components but designed from scratch with its own motive power. The company is building a new £12m home in Llanelli,
The first model to reach the market, the pugnacious Type-D GT Syracuse, is state of the art but in an orthodox way. The engine is a small but sophisticated 2 litre V10, supercharged to develop 300bhp. Running this power through a six speed automatic it will break 60mph in under 5 seconds and race on to speeds in excess of 150mph, averaging 22mpg in the process. It is thought that it will come in at around £35,000, which sounds like astounding value for money, and deliveries are due to start in early 2008. It is not, though, the most exciting story to come out of the factory; that is reserved for the Type-D hybrid.
The hybrid marries the V10 to an electric motor, resulting in a slightly blunted 0-60mph sprint of 6.2 seconds but delivering a positively parsimonious 42mpg. For those lumbered with a conscience there is no better way to burn off hot hatches on the way back from the organic grocery store. Both models are generating significant interest and the majority of the first production run of 100 cars is already spoken for. The next year should see production reach 250 units before levelling off at 1000 a year thereafter. Although in industry terms these are very low numbers the new models are highly effective technology demonstrators. It is likely that they will attract high value R&D work giving a Connaught and Wales a crucial, if largely confidential, role at the centre of the global industry.
Nanjing Automobile (NAC), owners of MG, and Healey Automobile Consultants, owners of the Healey brand, have jointly announced their intentions to collaborate on the future development of the two brands and model strategies. Since NAC owns the
HFI has been making slow progress with its new Healey sports car. It is based on a still-born Scandinavian project that was originally proposed a decade ago by some Volvo engineers. The chassis was then passed on to Jösse Car, another Swedish firm, where it became the Indigo 3000 sports car, powered by a 3.0 litre six-cylinder Volvo engine. With a lightweight, two-seater body the car was said to break the 0-60mph sprint in 6.5 seconds and power on to 155mph. It appeared at the
However, as a homage to the Healey 3000 it naturally lent itself to the revival planned by Tim Fenna’s HFI Automotive. This should have resulted in a swift appearance in the market, most of the engineering work having apparently been done, but in fact there appears to have been little progress. Those who were persuaded to part with the £1000 deposit for one of the first batch have had no further information since a newsletter in March last year. It is very likely, then, that the deal between NAC and Healey is to bring this project to fruition, perhaps by having the Healey produced at Longbridge and sold through MG dealers. Beyond that, it would be rude to speculate.
GAZ, the Russian automotive group and owner of the British van manufacturer LDV, has doubled its 2006 net profit over the year before. The profits for this year come in at around $230m on revenues of $4.5bn. The company is best known for its
GAZ is also known in the
GAZ is itself part of a larger group, Russian Machines (Russkiye Mashiny), which is owned by Oleg Deripaska through his Basic Element holding company. Deripaska is believed to be the second richest man in Russian. Russian Machines recently bought a large chunk of