By 27 February 2011 31 Comments Read More →

Press Report : RBS repossesses Will Riley’s factory unit

Graeme Brown, Birmingham Post, 25th February, 2011

The MG XPower SV in better times

The MG XPower SV in better times

A Worcestershire businessman who hoped to revive the MG racing brand has been hit with a new setback after his headquarters was repossessed over a £400,000 debt. Will Riley boasted that he would make the famous Longbridge marque a world force again with his bespoke two-seater coupés built by hand at his rural headquarters and costing up to £90,000.

However, first he lost the right to use the famous red octagon logo after a costly court battle with Chinese motor giant Nanjing, which bought MG after it collapsed in 2005. Now his factory unit in Eardiston, near Tenbury Wells, is in the possession of bankers who seized it last month over an outstanding loan.

The eccentric Mr Riley defiantly said he would unveil a new car next week and is preparing to file a writ against the Royal Bank of Scotland within days. He said that the bank had been ‘negligent’ and had misled him over assurances that it had the facility to recover taxes from Italy, where he once had a factory.

‘RBS has tried to cut off my income by repossessing the premises but I have found somewhere else,’ said Mr Riley. ‘It misled me in that it claimed to have the facilities to recover VAT from Italy but two years later I have never received it. That is the equivalent of £525,000 and the bank has repossessed my premises over a £400,000 debt, even though I paid off a smaller loan to them.

‘The bank is unquestionably guilty of failing to support small businesses even though it is propped up with our taxes.’ Mr Riley said his workforce had moved to a new building nearby and had been developing a new car.

He said he hoped to be able to unveil it on March 1 and revealed it was based on the SV. Mr Riley developed the SV from rights he acquired from the fall-out of the MG Rover collapse. However, Nanjing, which bought the rest of the firm for £53 million in 2005, said Mr Riley never had the right to be able to use the MG name or logo.

The Chinese company won a High Court battle in February last year and Mr Riley dropped MG from his company name. ‘We hope to be in position to unveil this new car next week,’ he said. ‘It will be based on the SV but will be lighter and more powerful as well as being re-badged. It is back from the paint shop and is being re-assembled but there are one or two hurdles to clear yet.’

Mr Riley claimed to be employing seven full and part-time staff and said the company would have been solvent were it not for difficulties with the bank. ‘If we had the tax back from Italy, everything would be fine,’ he added.  ‘But the bank is making things difficult for us.’

Mr Riley is still involved in a dispute with former employee Tony Cox who won £13,500 from the company at a tribunal. Former general manager Mr Cox, from Selly Oak, told the hearing last year that he was not paid a penny during nine months at the firm.

Mr Riley then filed a £16,000 counter claim against Mr Cox, alleging that the work he carried out was sub-standard. A bank spokesman said it did not comment on individual cases.

[Source: Birmingham Post]

Keith Adams

About the Author:

Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and watched it steadily grow into AROnline. Is the Editor of Classic Car Weekly, and has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, Classic Car Weekly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, and the the Motoring Independent... Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasable adventures all across Europe.

31 Comments on "Press Report : RBS repossesses Will Riley’s factory unit"

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  1. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    A nice Dr Emmett Brown story to lift some of the doom and gloom people have been speaking lately!

    God bless him, but this story has a text-book “me against the big boys” ring to it where it is fairly easy to spot the fact from fiction – unless you are Mr Riley!

    It reminds me of the TV report during the last Gulf War where Comical Ali was telling the world that no foreign power had invaded Iraq as allied tanks rumbled down the street in the background!

  2. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    Such a shame… Perhaps the once-again-refitted SV chassis will be more appropriately revealed a month late?

    Seriously, has ANYONE bought one of these, or is it the same couple of SV chassis constantly being restyled, chopped up and restyled again? I can’t understand where the income for the firm is coming from unless SVs are being produced and I’d expect to have seen at least one around here by now if they were.

  3. Lord Sward says:

    £400,000? I’ve run up bigger bar bills. Pathetic.

  4. James Riley James says:

    William Riley sounds like a complete nutcase – with his world burning around him, he comes out with rubbish like “we will unveil a new car next week…” even when his factory is gone and he cannot possibly have any money. A total waste of time and a joke…

  5. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    Actually, there have been folk on here crying out for the Riley name to appear on a new car – surely he could legally use his own surname on his own creation?????

  6. Steven211 says:

    BMW own the Riley name, though. He could call them W.Riley.

  7. Simon Woodward says:

    I just googled ‘MG SV For Sale’ and one came up at £35k with only 340 miles on the clock, so brand new then. There are a few unsold or low mileage MG SVs about so why is this guy trying to make and sell them when there clearly there is no demand. I am not sure but wasn’t it really expensive when it was launched, something like £50k?

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    Lord Sward’s drinking habit is a bit of a concern!

  8. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    @Simon Woodward
    Simon, I seem to recall the price range from basic to top was £65k to £80k. There is a Nightfire Red one up here (near Edinburgh) owned by an MGCC Caledonian member and the owner told me there are now 23 of them on the road. There were 24, but one was written off when it slid off the road on a rather innocuous wet patch in France and cracked a couple of panels!!

    It is a nice looking car in the flesh/metal/carbon fibre, but it was another missed opportunity by the custodians of MGR at the time to exploit the sporting connotations and get the public excited about the marque.

  9. Simon Woodward says:

    @Paul T
    It’s a shame that the MG SV couldn’t have been sold for TVR money, say £30k as a range topper to complement the MGF/TF. I have never seen one on the road but would imagine the Ford V8 makes a great sound although £60k – £80k that makes it a very expensive car to compete with a 911 or AM V8.

    You could tell how desperate things were at the end when MGR offered a ‘Nitrous Kit’ as a optional extra! You can picture the scene: ‘Towers’ watching Vin Diesel drifting a Skyline in Fast and Furious 2 then immediately picking up the phone to the poor under-funded Engineering Department and announcing his latest brain wave instead of concentrating of making that much needed medium sized hatchback.

    I think that, in time, one of those 23 MG SVs would become a highly sought after car but I see little hope for Will Riley selling this car for £90k. It reminds me of the of the AC 3000ME saga – that car started life as the Maxi-engined ‘Diablo’ in 1973, then launched as a V6 Ford-engined mid-engined sports car in 1979 but, in the mid-1980s, Carol Shelby had a go at it with a Chrysler Turbo, then Ghia restyled it and then I think it ended up in Scotland with a Alfa V6 and Daytona/SD1 front indicators.

    Indeed, for that matter, the Panther Solo project was just as infuriating. It’s as if these guys get a great car but then have visions above their station and start to meddle with it. Think about it the 1979 V6 AC3000ME just needed a decent gearbox and a bit of quality control. The Panther Solo 1 was a great car but they chickened out because Toyota launched the MR2 – who cares as there was room for both and the Solo 1 was prettier.

    Anyway, now there’s Riley’s MG SV – think up a new name, get rid of the expensive carbon fibre but stick with the cheap to buy Ford V8 and spend less time fighting costly legal battles and make the damn thing for £30k. TVR used to do OK until a Russian School Boy bought it for his ‘A’ level DT project.

  10. Alex Scott says:

    Hmm, I can’t see Mr. Riley selling many… The best he could do really is enter the kit car market and, even then, I suspect that people wouldn’t buy them just becuase they’d be running the risk of him going bust while they build it.

    It looks good but I agree that you’d would be better off buying an XK or AM DBS. However, if you haven’t seen the Making of the SV video perhaps you should see it…

    Alex.

  11. Simon Woodward says:

    @Alex Scott
    I wouldn’t mind seeing the SV video – is it a YouTube download or is an Amazon purchase?

  12. Richard Rose says:

    This Riley bloke sounds like a complete fruit salad. I bet he always deliberately puts all his rubbish in one bin then gets into a massive row with the binmen when they don’t take it away, saying that sorting his rubbish is their job not his and yelling that it’s an ‘infringement of his human rights’ or some such nonsense (as they drive off up the road).

  13. Liam Cawley says:

    @Simon Woodward
    I believe that the AC 3000ME ended up as the Argyll (sic)…

  14. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    @Simon Woodward
    @Liam Cawley
    I think it is creditable for individuals/enthusiasts to try and make their own vision of a sports car.

    However, as you say, Simon, folk either get silly and change what’s good or lose their bottle and miss the opportunity. I recall the cars you mention and recall them getting good rep from the press at the time.

    The MG SV has joined the ZT-T which set a land speed record in Australia in that it scooped a load of cash but provided no tangible return, as its achievement was not trumpeted. The SV is a great looking car but, at around £40k, it’s too expensive.

    Liam, the old Argyll factory is now a designer factory outlet, although I think the company still exists in some form, even if only on paper. There was talk of a revival a couple of years ago but don’t think much came of it. The car still has a dedicated band of owners and enthusiasts.

  15. Kev Davis says:

    Mr. Riley seems like a dreamer to me. Fact is, no one wants his car.

  16. Fevsisere says:

    A soddin’ mental patient in the making.

  17. Mark Baxter says:

    Looks like Gaddafi has a cousin in England!!!

  18. Keith Adams Keith Adams says:

    The AC 3000ME and the Argyll were not, in fact, directly related to each other although both did have a Scottish connection.

    AROnline has covered the history of both cars – you can read our story on the AC 3000ME here and our article on the Argyll here.

    /K

  19. Magnus says:

    I’ve no idea about the ins and outs of this chap’s dealings but I’ll say this: there are more people and prettier girls around his SV than I’ve ever seen around an MG6…

  20. Magnus says:

    … although exception must be made for that rather dubious-looking chap with the shades and the leather jacket on the far side of the car: is he a self-styled security goon or just a D.O.M?

  21. Lord Sward says:

    I reckon that, if Riley was serious about his intentions, he’d have launched a car buy now…

  22. Richard Kilpatrick Richard Kilpatrick says:

    …and if MGR had been serious about this market, they’d have developed the ZT Coupé instead of the SV.

    Imagine a ZT 385 Coupé with a bit of re-styling.

  23. Simon Woodward says:

    @Richard Kilpatrick
    That ZT/75 coupe was seriously gorgeous and, with a RWD V8, years a head of the Audi A5 and BMW 650. It would have been a good Flagship for MGR and would have been a hell of a lot cheaper than either the Audi or BMW. The MGTF V6 coupe concept would have been an interesting car, too – a sort of poor man’s Porsche Cayman or a modern day MGB GT V8.

  24. Guy Kendal says:

    I think that, if I had someone working for me for 9 months, I might possibly have noticed that their work was substandard!

  25. Ianto says:

    Such a waste…

  26. StuB says:

    What I wonder is how the bank ever extended him credit to the tune of £500k +. Surely, after scrutinising the guy’s ‘Business Plan’, they would have been able to work out that this was a guaranteed epic fail for all involved!

  27. Simon Woodward says:

    @StuB
    Ocean Finance!

  28. Paul Taylor Paul T says:

    I used to work for Mr. Riley’s financiers. I am now redundant… Go figure…

    😀

  29. Rob B says:

    Mr. Riley has clearly lost the plot – I don’t think we will be seeing any new SVs on sale anytime soon… He should never have attempted to call the car an MG – he could easily have sold it under a different name and avoided all the complications.

    It’s a sad end to what was a sad tale to begin with. It’s questionable whether MGR should have bought the Qvale Mangusta project in the first place but, assuming buying it was the right thing to do, developing an expensive, carbonfibre supercar from it certainly wasn’t. Had it been engineered with a straightforward steel or GRP body and been powered by a tuned KV6, it would have made a great range topper for MG.

  30. Ianto says:

    Shades of Arthur Daley, methinks.

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