The new Longbridge-made MG TF sports car may not be in full production yet but it is already proving a hit with motorists who are clamouring to buy a limited edition version of the roadster.
To mark the relaunch of the car, which is not due in showrooms until September, owner Nanjing Automobile is producing a limited 500 run of the LE500 model.
But such is the expectation among MG enthusiasts that 390 of the cars have already been snapped up unseen, and dealers around the country are suggesting people interested in the remaining cars get their orders in quickly.
The cars painted orange and white, have already sold out leaving buyers with a choice of black, blue, red or grey.
One dealer said: “We thought they were going to be popular but nothing like this.”
The limited edition vehicle features extras such as 16 in alloy wheels, in-car audio with iPod connector, leather seats, upgraded brakes and rear parking sensors.
However, it is thought to be much more than just a few gimmicks that are luring people into placing orders. MG enthusiasts starved of the marque for so long are eager to snap up a slice of motoring heritage in what is seen as a new beginning for the Longbridge company.
One of the dealers chosen to sell the cars, Crawley Down Group, based in Sussex, summed it up by saying: “This is a relaunch of one of the best known and best loved brands in the world.”
It may be pure marketing hype but it is having an effect and the company has said that if anyone is interested in acquiring one of the new vehicles then they have to act now.
The clamour comes despite concerns that the price of the cars – £16,399 on the road – was a little higher that most people were expecting.
Not surprisingly, the Chinese company’s sales and marketing director Gary Hagen was much keener to stress the positives.
“We are delighted to be able to bring in such a highly specified car at such a reasonable price,” he said. “When you consider the level of specification that comes with the LE500, the package is extremely competitive.”
The LE500 features revised looks, upgraded engine that “delivers an authentic British sports car driving experience” according to NAC, and a host of design refinements and extras that have brought it bang up to date. Attractions like sports-styled leather seats and a piano black interior also help to give the car a stylish new look.
Mr Hagen said the backing of NAC parent Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) - China’s largest car maker - together with the fact the LE 500 had been designed, engineered and was being built in the UK, were playing a major role in the car’s success.