A multinational team with 400 years' experience in the auto industry has been assembled to spearhead Project Kimber's plans to set up a new car factory - possibly in the Midlands.
The group, which includes the designer of the Italian Mini and the ex president of Mercedes USA, is in negotiations with DaimlerChrysler to build its Smart Roadster and Coupe under licence.
A site at the former Dunlop factory in Coventry has been identified as one of the possible locations, but it faces competition from Erfurt in Germany and Bridgend in South Wales.
The consortium is led by David James, the company doctor and turn around specialist who worked on the Millennium Dome.
It plans to relaunch the smart roadster as a new MG Midget (right), and has claimed to be in negotations with Nanjing Automobile to use the MG brand.
It includes the Canadian Grant Gazdig, who through his work with Merrill Lynch has worked with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, and who is now head of private equity firm Access-Capital Partners.
The team, which has been named after Cecil Kimber, the first managing director of MG, takes in Italian Paolo Caccamo who was the designer of Innocenti Mini, the Italian version of the car which was built under licence from Morris.
Barrie Wills - formerly of Jaguar, Reliant-Scimitar and DeLorean, and founder of the automotive consultants, de Montfort Resources, the company which has led the Kimber initiative and possesses the agreements with Smart - is Mr James' deputy in the venture.
Other members are Peter Kay, who has worked for Mercedes Benz, Rover, Lucas and BAe, an automotive business advisor and founder director of the consultancy business KMC
International; Peter Keilbach - a German who was president of Mercedes Benz USA and is now head of the European branch of the US Chamber of Commerce with offices in Brussels and Berlin; Sir Hal Miller - formerly a diplomat in Hong Kong, an MP, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and now chairman of Cosmopolitan Textiles, a subsidiary of major Chinese conglomerate; Michael May, former product planner of Land Rover and Lotus and current brand and marketing consultant to Rolls-Royce Motors; and Keith Helfet, who has styled a number of Jaguar sports cars, including the XJ220, and will remodel the Smart car.
Other members are John Perrott, formerly with Land Rover, Lotus and McLaren-Mercedes, Michael Phillips, formerly of Jaguar-Rover-Triumph, Dunlop and Dennis, and Ian Adcock, former technical editor of Autocar and ex-PR manager of SAAB, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, and Lotus.
Mr Wills said: "We have decided to come out of the closet to demonstrate the strength of our management team.
"This team has more than 400 years experience in the automotive industry and shows how serious we are."