A record August performance from Land Rover failed to save Ford in America last month as the US carmaker's sales continued their downward plunge.

Land Rover dealers reported a record August sales figures of 4,853, up 32 per cent, boosted by a strong showing from the new Freelander 2 - called LR2 in the US. But despite this Ford, the third largest carmaker in the world - suffered an overall 14 per cent sales decline in August, hurt by a decline in showroom sales.

The second-largest US automaker said it sold 218,332 vehicles in August, down from 255,112 vehicles a year earlier. In the year to date, sales were 12.5 per cent down at 1.79 million vehicles.

Excluding Ford's European luxury brands - Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo which it is seeking to offload - and heavy-duty trucks, Ford's sales fell 15 per cent in August.

The company said retail, or showroom sales tumbled 13 per cent, while sales to car rental companies were down 44 per cent.

Results for Ford, which had sought to cut its lower-margin fleet sales to car rental companies, included its import brands and some medium and heavy-duty trucks.

"Our plan remains to align production capacity and inventories with consumer demand," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas division. "

Within the figures, Jaguar's sales continued their headlong decline with an overall fall of 20.2 per cent in the month from 1,704 vehicles to 1,359.

The biggest falls came in the Castle Bromwich-built S-Type - which has now ceased production - and the Halewood-built X-Type. S-type sales were down 36.5 per cent in the month from 422 vehicles to 268, while X-type sales were off 44.5 per cent from 481 to 267.

Jaguar's top model, the XJ, saw its sales relatively static at 401 cars - adrift 1.7 per cent - while the XK sports car, which is also built at Castle Bromwich, was the only positive performer.

The XK enjoyed a 7.6 per cent increase in August sales from 393 in 2006 to 423 last month.

The results meant that Jaguar, which celebrated its 85th anniversary this week, was 28.6 per cent down in the year to date at 10,956 vehicles. In contrast overall Land Rover sales were 6.1 per cent ahead at 31,884, with the company now on course for a global sales record past the 200,000 mark.

Range Rover saw a 28.5 per cent increase in monthly US sales to 1,212 vehicles, and Range Rover Sport was 27.3 per cent ahead at 1,816.

Freelander 2 made a strong debut with 1,038 cars. The new model Discovery, the LR3 was the only faller, with sales down 39.3 per cent to 787 from 1,296 last year.

Jaguar and Land Rover brands have been put up for sale by Ford, which is looking to stem losses of $12.7 billion last year.

Private equity groups TPG, One Equity, Cerberus and Ripplewood are among the interested parties, along with Indian industrial conglomerates Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra.

A spokesman for Jaguar and Land Rover said: "Land Rover is showing great strength and has enjoyed a record August.

"It has built on the success the company has enjoyed in America in the last two years with Range Rover Sport and Range Rover by adding the new Freelander which is doing everything we hoped it would and more."

The downturn in sales of the Discovery was attributed to the car being squeezed by the Range Rover at the top of its market and the Freelander at the bottom.

Meanwhile the sales downturn at Jaguar was attributed to customers waiting for the successor to the S-Type - the XF which will launched at Frankfurt next week - and the repositioning of the company further up-market.