Two passengers died when a car taken for a test drive from racing driver Damon Hill's BMW Warwickshire showroom crashed.
Martin Gerald Coleman, aged 34, and 29-year-old Rebecca Louise Giddings, were killed when the #14,500 new blue Mini Cooper veered off the road and smashed into a tree.
It had been borrowed from the Warwick showroom by their friend, from Stratford-upon-Avon, who was driving towards Leamington when he crashed.
The driver, who was not named by police, was taken to Northampton General Hospital. Last night he was said to be in a serious condition.
Showroom staff yesterday said officers were already on their way to the dealership to inform them of the crash when they rang police to say the Mini had not returned and the occupants were not answering their mobile phones.
Police said the crash, which happened last Sunday on the A425 in Staverton, Northamptonshire, was being investigated but was being treated as an accident.
The driver had contacted the Damon Hill BMW showroom in Heathcote Lane, Warwick, a few days earlier and asked to take the car for a test drive. Mr Coleman and Ms Giddings were both from Waverley Road in Epsom, Surrey.
Andy Clements, the general sales manager of the showroom, which is partly owned by ex-Formula One champion Hill, said: "The man who lived locally inquired about taking the car for a test drive. He insured the vehicle to take the car away and brought in the usual documents.
"He turned up on the day with two other people. Staff in the showroom explained how all of the controls worked.
"But the car had not come back after a while. In the event of that happening, we would obviously report that to the police.
"We could not contact anyone in the car via mobile phones so we reported the car to the police but they were already on the way to us to tell us exactly what had happened."
Mr Clements said it was company policy to allow customers to take cars on a test drive unaccompanied, as long as they produced a valid driving licence and insurance papers.
He said the car was new and in a perfect condition when it left the showroom.
"A member of our staff could have been in that vehicle at that time. It is tragic but obviously from our point of view, the precautions that we take as a company are quite strict," he said.
Angela Glands, who is Ms Giddings and Mr Coleman's neighbour, said her family was told about their deaths earlier in the week and were saddened by the news.
She said: "I am quite upset. They were a lovely, loving couple who lived next door to me and they were very nice.
"We are all very upset and shocked."
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said: "No other vehicle was involved in the incident. We can confirm that we are investigating and we are appealing for witnesses and for people who saw the Mini prior to the accident to come forward."
A spokeswoman for Northampton County Council said the A425 was not known as a dangerous stretch of road and there had not been any previous serious accidents during the last year.
Anyone with information about the accident can call police 0800 174 615.