Leaders of the only British bid to take over MG Rover were last night confident of seeing off rival contenders from China.
Members of Project Kimber, a consortium of Midland businessmen led by company recovery specialist David James, emerged hopeful from a meeting in London with officials of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury.
It is understood that the group is asking the Government for a multi-million loan guarantee to underpin an offer of funding from an un-named investor.
Kimber - named after the legendary MG director Cecil Kimber, one of the heroes of the British car industry - suffered a setback at the weekend when talks aimed at striking a deal with Chinese group SAIC to share out the Longbridge assets collapsed.
SAIC, China's biggest carmaker and the group that propelled MG Rover into bankruptcy in April when it pulled out of a joint venture that would have seen it finance a new generation of cars, is still involved in a rival plan put up by former Ford of Europe boss Martin Leach and his associates.
Kimber and SAIC are competing against Nanjing, another Chinese car company, whose bid, according to insiders, is favourite to be accepted by the MG Rover administrators.
The signs earlier this week were that the team from PricewaterhouseCoopers, who have so far clocked up fees of #10 million or more, wanted to end the uncertainty shrouding Longbridge by announcing a decision before the weekend.
But with the Kimber and the SAIC consortia still finalising their offers, no announcement is now likely until early next week.
Everyone involved with bidding for the Longbridge assets have signed strict confidentiality agreements and so are prevented from talking to the press.
But the understanding is that the administrators want to dispose of the plant to a single bidder.
Both the Kimber and the SAIC/Leach plans involve selling on bits of Longbridge, primarily the Powertrain engines operation, at some stage, leaving Nanjing as the only interested party prepared to keep the operation intact.
Before Mr James and his colleagues met the DTI yesterday the feeling was they would come away empty handed on the grounds that the Government did not want to expose itself to accusations that it was bailing out a failed business.
But someone close to the talks said last night: "They had a very good hearing and the DTI now has a better understanding of the plans.
"It was stressed that this is a British plan for British jobs."
It is understood that the meeting broke up without the DTI indicating when it would announce its decision on Kimber's request for a loan guarantee.
SAIC also believes that with its president, Chen Hong, due in the UK today for talks with Mr Leach, the administrator's timetable for making a decision will have to be put back until next week.
Kimber's plan is to make MG sports at Longbridge and utilise the rest of the plant to contract build cars for other manufacturers.
A possible partner being touted by automotive industry insiders is Magna Steyr, an Austrian company that builds all the Chrysler cars coming into the Europe as well as luxury 4x4s for BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Steyr has run out of capacity at its factory at Graz and Longbridge could be an attractive overspill location, they argue.
Another factor in favour of keeping car production going at the site is the fact that it houses a relatively modern paintshop.
These are very expensive items for carmakers and planning and technical restraints mean they cannot easily be replicated or relocated.