In 2006, it was reported that David James had entered talks with MG Rover's new owners the Nanjing Automobile Group to buy the MG brand in order to produce a number of sports cars based on the out of production Smart Roadster design.
On Friday February 17, 2006, The Times newspaper reported that Mr James was in discussions with Daimler Chrysler to buy the Roadster's design, technology and equipment for approximately £13 million. The equipment would then be transferred from the Smart factory to a former Dunlop tyre factory in Coventry where the Roadster would be built under the MG brand. It is understood that Project Kimber is being funded by Grant Gazdig's Access Capital firm, as well as a private equity firm called European American Securities.
On the 20th July 2006 motoring website 4car reported rumours that David James was in talks with Alan Lubitsky the owner of AC Cars, to use the famous British name on his sports cars. In a press release dated 31st August 2006 it was stated that agreement had been reached with Acedes Holdings, the current owners of the AC brand, to use the AC name on the new car.
The revised car is to use the latest 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Mitsubishi engine from the Toyota Aygo, in both normally-aspirated and turbocharged forms. Also the original Smart clutchless transmission will be axed, being replaced by a Getrag-supplied manual gearbox.
Though it will remain similar to the Smart original, the Roadster will undergo a minor makeover. Former Jaguar designer Keith Helfet has been signed up to restyle its front and tail ends to freshen it up, and to distinguish it from the Smart-built Mk 1.
On the 4th September 2006, Autowired reported that engineering legend Gordon Murray who created the McLaren F1 and is also working with Caparo is to lead the Project Kimber engineering team. Also joining is John Piper, formerly of the Williams Formula One team who recently worked on the JCB Dieselmax car which in August 2006 set a new diesel land speed record.
The tooling brought from the Smart factory at Hambach will be installed at Project Kimber's factory in South Wales and production is expected to start in the summer of 2007. Prices for the new AC will start at £13,000 with 7000 Roadsters are planned to be built in the first year of production, going up to 11,000 a year once properly up and running.