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MG Rover confirms Qvale acquisition with sights on US market

MG Rover has confirmed the purchase of the Qvale Automotive Group and will use the technology behind the Italian company's Mangusta sports car for a new vehicle.

Codenamed MG X80 the high performance sports car will unite the 4.6-litre V8 powertrain to a body being designed by MG Rover, styled by Peter Stevens.

The company has today also released the first design sketch of the MG X80 (pictured below). It is due for launch in 2002, in both coupe and roadster versions with manual and auto transmissions. The new car will be positioned above the existing MGF Roadster, the new MG sports saloons and sports-wagon that will be launched this summer.

Kevin Howe, MG Rover chief executive, said: "The MG X80 will be an excellent fit at the top of our MG car family. It also provides an opportunity to look at markets where we are not represented, in particular the USA where we can now seriously evaluate the full potential for the MG brand."

Bruce Qvale, president of the Italian-based company, said: "MG Rover showed an interest in our Mangusta car project and we have agreed a good deal for both sides. The power of the MG brand takes the project forward on a global basis."

The deal will give MG Rover the rights to Qvale's Mangusta sports car, launched last year. The UK group will also gain a manufacturing base in Modena and access to Qvale's US dealership network.

The Qvale family, based in San Francisco, has ties with MG dating back to the 1940s when it founded British Motor Car Distributors - at one time the largest US distributor of British-built cars including Austin Healey, Jaguar, Triumph and Rolls-Royce. During the 1970s it also owned Jensen, the sports car manufacturer, and later distributed Maseratis in the US.

MG Rover's main interest is to gain the distribution and engineering rights for the Mangusta. The car - developed by DeTomaso, the Italian carmaker that previously owned Maserati, is assembled under the Qvale badge in Modena.

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