What makes a car British? The truth is there isn't much of an automotive industry left in this country. When the latest Rover saloon is unveiled at the Motor Show, commentators will be looking for the influence of its BMW parentage.
But as far as the wider buying public is concerned, the saloon, known as the Rover 75, will be marketed as British. For his piece Marriage made in Munich on page 34, Matthew Gwyther travelled to Rover's headquarters, close to Birmingham airport, and discovered that the enormous pride in the company's heritage is to be translated into the marketing of its new range. He managed to steal of glimpse of the car, which does not go on sale until next March, and he liked what he saw. The group hopes the new model will embody classic British style just like a well-tailored Jermyn Street shirt. Whether that will be enough to persuade sufficient numbers of drivers to choose it over its suave Continental and Far Eastern rivals is another matter.
Some people worry that playing on this nationalism is steering the organisation dangerously off-course. It may play well in Italy and parts of America, but can one credibly promote Rover as a great British car when it was swallowed up four years ago in an £800 million rescue deal? What does Britishness mean when the company is part of BMW and benefiting from a host of BMW components as well as its expertise? Gwyther explores this debate and investigates what future there will be for the brand should the Rover 75 fail to live up to expectations. Whatever pride Rover's people may have in their company's heritage, they all know that Rover's future now lies in German hands.