Car production set to begin again in Blackpool

SPORTS car production is set to begin again in Blackpool "within weeks", the Gazette was today told.

Council chiefs say they are confident Midlands-based entrepreneur Will Riley will soon take over part of TVR's old Bispham factory.

And with just a few issues of financial red tape to work out it is expected cars will start rolling off the production line by the end of August.

Mr Riley is due to travel back from Italy this weekend where he has signed a deal to supply him with chassis for his sports cars which will be built at a temporary home at the old TVR site at Bristol Avenue.

As revealed exclusively in The Gazette last month, the businessman has taken on several former TVR employees.

They will construct two models - the MG X-Power SV and another Premium X-Power roadster and coupe - under the names Riley Pathfinder and the MPH.

Mr Riley has signed a six-figure deal with Blackpool Council for land on Bispham Technology Park on which he will build his new state-of-the-art factory.

He has invested 1m in setting up a purpose-built 100,000sq ft site and has said he will be putting in a further 700,000 into the site.

Alan Cavill, head of corporate policy and development at Blackpool council, said: "The council has done everything it can to make sure the proposed move goes forward.

"We know Mr Riley has the ambition and we are hoping to get to work more with him when he moves into Bristol Avenue which we hope will be next week."

It is more than six months since the Russian owner of TVR, Nikolai Smolenski, broke the hearts of more than 250 TVR workers by moving production of the once blue chip brand overseas.

Despite a number of proposals to take over the site, Mr Riley has proven the most popular by promising a return to car production on the Fylde.

In a recent interview with The Gazette, the 63-year-old, said: "Blackpool has proven it's more than capable of producing top of the range sports cars.

The cars I will be producing will fit a niche in the market left by the likes of Aston Martin and Bentley."

Mr Riley has just bought MG Sports and Racing - once part of the famous MG brand - for an undisclosed sum from administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

It was left behind in receivership when MG was bought out by China's Nanjing Automobile Group.

It is understood Mr Riley is close to sealing a deal with Peter Wheeler, the former owner of TVR and current landlord of the Bispham factory, and will take over half of the site shortly.