The historic Longbridge production facility in Birmingham, England is rolling again. First opened in 1905 by Austin, it was once the largest factory in the world. Since that time it's manufactured cars, airplanes and armaments for both world wars, and its name became synonymous with strikes, poor quality and mismanagement during the 1970s. Now, Nanjing Automotive has begun assembling its version of the MG TF there, despite using mostly Chinese-built components.
The TF, whose name is short for "Just buy a Lotus Elise" began production in 1995 (then known simply as the F) and went through two facelifts before parent company Rover went out of business, shuttering the factory three and a half years ago.
The TF isn't a terribly good vehicle, using the mid-mounted engine to severely compromise packaging instead of enable sublime handling. There were also numerous quality issues including hydragas suspension (ditched with the switch from F to TF in 2002) that came misadjusted from the factory, meaning many customers wound up with cars that sat unevenly on their wheels. Nevertheless, the vehicle broke sales records for sports cars during its 10-year life. Initial signs point to some of its appeal still being present in the market: 70% of the initial 500-car run have already been sold. [Automotive News]