BIRMINGHAM, England - Rover Group expects to unveil a concept car bearing the resurrected Riley name by next fall, Rover Chairman Walter Hasselkus has confirmed.
Hasselkus said he has asked Rover engineers to prepare a design concept that would fit the exclusive Riley image. Hasselkus said the new Riley must be a distinctive model, probably using a high-performance 3.2-liter version of the 175-hp, 2.5-liter KV6 power unit in the new 75.
Riley was famous until the late 1950s for producing rakish sports sedans, but its image was diluted within the former British Leyland's hodgepodge of brands.
When BMW AG acquired Rover in 1996, BMW Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder vowed to revive the names of several classic British marques stored under Rover's copyright, including Riley, Triumph and Austin Healey.
But he and Hasselkus are aware that re-establishing brands presents a major challenge.
'Austin Healey has strong residual image in North America,' Hasselkus said. 'But outside the United Kingdom, the Riley name many not mean a great deal to a lot of people.'
A Riley coupe would fit into Rover's production plans at the redeveloped Oxford plant. Rover has asked BMW to invest an additional$202 million to expand the factory and double the annual production capacity to 250,000 cars.