Morgan Motor Company is aiming to break into the US market with a revamped version of its Aero 8 model.
T he announcement came as the 70 year-old Malvern manufacturer showed off its largest range of cars at the British International Motor Show, which opens to the public at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands today.
The company sells about 130 cars a year in the US but until now the Aero 8 has not met federal safety and emissions standards.
"That has now changed," sales director Matthew Parkin said. "The Aero 8 has come of age and we will be showcasing it at Pebble Beach in California in August." The hand-built £62,500 car has a new front end to address criticisms levelled in 2001 that it was too "bug eyed".
"The look is more traditional although we have melded the latest technology with the classic look of Morgans," Mr Parkin said.
The make-over of the A ero 8 cost about $4 million. That's a major investment for a company the size of Morgan, which employs 155 people and produces 550 cars a year, or one and a half a day.
"It's the ashtray budget for Volkswagen," joked Mr Parkin.
The car will continue to be made with a steel chassis and ash frame, over which an aluminium skin is attached.
Buyers in the US will also get air-conditioning and central locking.
Mr Parkin said the new car was a mixture of old and new technology although large parts of it were still hand-crafted.
Buyers of Morgans like the Aero 8 and the vintage Morgan 4/4 usually have to wait 12 months to take delivery.
But with few Americans willing to wait that long, the company has set aside production of some other models to get Aero 8s out of the factory faster.
"We hope to sell 150 Aero 8s a year in all markets," Mr Parkin said. "We know this is an ambitious target, given we have only built a total of 400 since September 2001, but we are confident."
Morgan is also building 70th anniversary models of the 4/4 which holds the world record for the longest continuous production run of any single model.
Charles Morgan, grandson of the company's founder, said: "We are really proud to celebrate this anniversary.
"We have made nearly 10,000 4/4s over the years.
"The fact that we have kept the essence and character of the car, whilst keeping the functionality and safety totally current is testament to the original design and the skills and ingenuity of our engineers."