Full production of MG cars has edged closer at Longbridge with the first batch of hand-built test sportscars produced.

Sixty cars have been completed at the Birmingham factory, which shut its doors in April 2005.

Although the factory was officially reopened in May, full production of MG TFs is only likely to come by the end of this year. The vehicles have gone for intensive testing at proving grounds around the UK, including Millbrook near Milton Keynes.

Nanjing aims to build around 15,000 MG TFs next year in the first full year of production.

Company spokeswoman Eleanor De La Haye said: "This is not the start of production; we are aiming to do that some time later this year.

"These are pre-production models to make sure the cars are right. A lot of cars have been coming out of the factory gates with the old model shape, and the engines have been subjected to lots of testing. The car will not be released unless it is absolutely perfect."

No details have emerged yet on price of the vehicle by NAC, which is currently building a network of dealers.

Meanwhile Nanjing's version of the Rover 75 saloon, which it is calling the MG 7, is due to be launched in the UK next Autumn. The car will be assembled from components made in China at Longbridge, which has seen its workforce expand to 140.

Executives from Shanghai Automobile, which is looking to take over Nanjing, have now returned to China to continue their deliberations.

Meanwhile, Fiat is considering pulling the plug on its collaboration with Nanjing in China.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of the Italian carmaker, said he was working towards a solution to the problems.