UK engine key to Rolls-Royce bid

UK enthusiasts’ Action Committee plans British V10 in attempt to buy luxury car maker

The Rolls-Royce Action Committee – a group of enthusiasts trying to stop Rolls-Royce Motors being sold overseas – said its bid to buy the luxury car maker will include a new British-built engine for Rolls-Royce and Bentley models due to be launched later this year.

Last year BMW sealed a deal to supply V8 and V12 engines for the new models, but has the right to withdraw the engines should Rolls-Royce be sold.

This week the RRAC said it has brought British engine designer Al Melling on to the team. Melling, who runs automotive consultancy MCD, has worked on engine design for TVR cars and Lola Formula One, and is proposing a V10 unit for Rolls-Royce and Bentley models.

Michael Shrimpton, RRAC chairman told The Engineer: ‘BMW threatened to withdraw the V12 engine. We would not rule out using it, but because of the threat we are forced to work on a worst case scenario.’

One industry expert said a new engine would leave the RRAC facing high development costs with none of the resources at the disposal of a major car maker. Analysts put the figure at £100m.

‘If the structure had to change, for example, the car would need to be crash tested again,’ he said.

Rolls-Royce Motors was put up for sale last year by owner Vickers, which hopes to make £400m from the sale, though favoured contender BMW may drive this down to £200m-250m.

Vickers has not confirmed suggestions that it has already sent an initial sales information memorandum to prospective bidders including the RRAC and foreign auto giants BMW, Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and a Fiat-linked group.

The RRAC expects to announce details of its bid next week, and is said to be seeking funds of £680m.