Niche sports car manufacturer Westfield has launched its latest model and embarked on a major sales drive in the process.
The Black Country company has been helped by the Accelerate supply chain initiative which has channelled £10,000 funding into the Westfield Sportscars Experience.
Held at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, the one-day event attracted more than 300 people and is the first step in a concerted effort to increase the number of cars produced in the UK.
The vehicle which can go from 0 to 60 mph in seven seconds, is called the SDV, which stands for Single Donor Vehicle.
The donor vehicle is a Maxda MX 5 which is stripped down with Westfield building the new vehicle on top of it.
Costing £6,450, the new vehicle format has taken five months to develop following a £60,000 investment by Westfield.
The company is now expecting to produce 50 of the cars in the first year, while 20 cars have already been sold to buyers in the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Netherlands and Sweden.
Holly Bond, marketing manager at the Kingswinford company, said: "Westfield is a brand that evokes great passion and we have a very loyal customer base, one that we want to grow through existing cars and our new model, which is based on recycled components of the popular 1600 Mazda MX5.
"We chose this make due to its widespread availability and how long it has been in production.
"Parts are easily accessible and our engineers have been able to use their design skills to shape a stylish 2-seater open top model that can offer 0-60mph in five seconds.
"There is also the 'End of Life' vehicle regulation to consider and this is making people more aware of doing their bit for the environment. Initial interest has been strong and we are already looking to export the kit cars into the US."
The seven-hour event saw enthusiasts, owners and potential purchasers learn more about the world of Westfield Sportscars, as well as having the opportunity to drive their own vehicles on the track.
"We are currently looking at a variety of ways of building the brand and reaching out to new customers," said Ms Bond.
"Since our launch in 1983, we have factory made or supplied kits for over 8,500 Westfields worldwide in countries ranging from Bahrain in the Middle East to South Africa and Sweden.
"The 'Experience' is just a taste of things to come and we have already scheduled a similar event in for July 2007."
Employing 48 people, Westfield is renowned for its British craftsmanship and high performance models, such as the Megabusa, that can reach 0-60 in 3.1 seconds.
It vehicles are designed in-house by the company's 15-strong engineering team.
The 40,000 sq ft facility on Gibbons Industrial Estate is also a major driver in ensuring operational efficiency that is amongst the best in the world.
Westfield is a truly UK band, from the design work and performance, right through to the 695 suppliers, who produce components for the range of vehicles, half of which are sourced from the Midlands.
Ms Bond said: "At the moment, we produce around 500 cars per year and the long-term aim is to increase this number without losing the prestige of the marque. Our staff and the supply chain will be crucial in helping us achieve this."
Rachel Eade, programme manager for Accelerate, said: "Initially, we were tasked with making suppliers more competitive and, whilst this will continue, the emphasis now is on working with companies to secure new business.
"Our recent £13 million funding boost means that there is additional money that can be directed to business development and capital equipment grants, supply chain improvement networks and promotional events, such as the 'Westfield Experience'.
"The support is there, it's now a question of firms making sure they access it."