Workers' leaders were locked in discussions with the prospective bidders for Jaguar and Land Rover last night.
Representations from the final three interested parties were made to leaders from the trade union Unite.
Indian industrial group Tata, compatriot Mahindra and Mahindra - which is working with private equity fund Apollo - and One Equity Partners have won through to the final round. The meetings in London took place at the request of Ford, which is selling the two luxury marques which together employ 15,000 in the Midlands.
Talks also took place with officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Ford demanded the meetings as it seeks an orderly transition before it completes the sale either at the end of this year or the beginning of 2008.
The American carmaker is keen not to tarnish its reputation in the UK where it is the biggest selling car brand.
One industry source said the momentum was likely to favour Tata, although there was some disagreement within the trade unions.
Tony Woodley, general secretary of the Transport & General Branch of Unite, is thought to favour One Equity - the private equity arm of JP Morgan which is led by former Ford president Jac Nasser.
But the union rank and file are thought to be opposed to any private equity involvement, fearing it would lead to more swingeing job cuts and the certain closure of one of the plants in the Midlands.
The source said: "Woodley is favouring One Equity and Jac Nasser, but the unions don't want private equity.
"That makes Tata the prime candidate because it is a big organisation, it is a manufacturing organisation, and it dealt sympathetically with the acquisition of Corus Steel Group.
"It has no financial problems. It is a globalised entity and it is in for the long haul. The supply chain and management will stay intact.
"They would invest in the companies. They would make it work."
Meanwhile Mahindra and Mahindra said it was in the race to acquire Jaguar and Land Rover primarily to tap into Land Rovers' vast technological assets.
Ford has refused to entertain requests of any bidder who expressed interest only in Land Rover.
Hemant Luthra, executive director, Mahindra and Mahindra, said: "Work is in process.
"The technology that Land Rover has makes sense for M&M."
Mahindra will directly benefit from the technological advancements made by Land Rover, funded by Ford over the years.
The bid for Jaguar-Land Rover by Mahindra and Mahindra falls in line with the company's ambition of becoming a full-fledged utility vehicle player worldwide, possessing a variety of product offerings.
In an earlier interview in India, Pawan Goenka, president (automotive sector) M&M, said, "We want to promote the M&M brand as a utility vehicle maker worldwide and we are working in line with that."