India group may buy British auto icons

March 24, 2008 at 2:01 PM
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LONDON, March 24 (UPI) -- Tata Group of India is negotiating with Ford Motor Co. to buy two British icons, Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata's chairman confirmed Monday

The irony of having Ford sell British icons to a business in a former colony has brought mixed reactions, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

"William Lyons would be turning in his grave, quite frankly," said Jaguar owner Barrie Birkin, referring to the co-founder of the company.

Others feel the swell of pride that a company from India has risen so far. They also feel Chief Executive Ratan Tata will appreciate the legacy of the two cars.

Ford bought Jaguar in 1989 and introduced the XF, which was named Car of the Year in 2008 in Britain's What Car? awards.

But Jaguar sales have slid, while Land Rover sales rose18 percent last year.

Cash hungry Ford is now trying to sell both.

Sources said the company would purchase engines from Ford and maintain production facilities in Britain.

"They are British brands -- and they should remain British," Ratan Tata said in an interview with Autocar magazine, the paper reported.

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