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Rover returns again

Montego dismay: The last Rovers to be rebadged as MGs were the unloved Maestro hatch and Montego sedans of the 1980s (pictured).

Rover comes back to Australia with the 75 sedan and revised MGF models, to be followed by MG-badged versions of Rover cars

24 Jun 2000

ROVER's 75 sedan and revised MGF models with automatic transmission are expected on sale in Australia within months. Late next year MG-badged versions of Rover cars are also expected. The rebadged Rovers were shown to UK dealers last week. They are expected on sale in the UK within 12 months. The last Rovers to be rebadged as MGs were the (unloved) Maestro hatch and Montego sedans of the 1980s (pictured). According to industry sources, the Rover and MG cars will be imported by the Classic Motoring Group, which owns the MG Garage and Restaurant in Sydney as well as the multi-franchised Trivett Classic dealerships. CMG owners Mr Ian Pagent and Mr Greg Duncan are understood to be in the UK at present negotiating the import agreement. BMW Australia abruptly abandoned plans to import, distribute and retail Rover 75 sedans earlier this year after BMW AG disposed of Rover to the Phoenix Consortium. BMW will continue with the new Mini to be launched at the Paris motor show this October. BMW had already completed the expensive process of homologating the cars to meet Australian Design Rules and had 15 dealers signed up to retail the cars. Rover Group in the UK is extremely keen to push ahead with exports to South Africa and Australia. It is likely the $51,500 starting price for the 2.5-litre V6 Rover 75, quoted by BMW in March, will rise. A Rover spokesman in the UK said the MG version of the Rover 75 would not just be rebadged, but would have sportier interior trim, exterior body kits and revised suspensions. Unique powertrains (which could include supercharged engines) are also likely. About 30 per cent of Rover production is to wear MG badges. Historically, the biggest MG sales have been sedan-based MGs, of which the Magnette sedan from the 1950s is best remembered. The original MG was a rebodied 1924 "Bullnose" Morris. Initially, only the five existing Australian MG Garages will retail the sedans and sportscars. These Garages at present stock pre- and post-facelift model MGFs, though automatic transmission facelifted cars are on their way in time for the Sydney motor show in November. Land Rover Australia is believed to be preparing to relinquish the MG brand and is likely to hand over up to 100 unsold MGFs to the new importer. Meanwhile, Land Rover, Volvo and Ford's NSW office are all looking for suitable new headquarters in and around Sydney, to host the Premier Automotive Group brands. The headquarters will have to be big enough to house Jaguar which is expected to move in with the PAG companies at a later date. Sources suggest the headquarters must be found within six months and the companies ensconced before the end of this financial year. It is also possible Land Rover will terminate its spare parts distribution agreement in Victoria with Caterpillar. Ford president Geoff Polities intimated recently that it would "make sense" for Ford to warehouse Land Rover parts at its Broadmeadows facility, home to Ford and Mazda parts stocks.

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