Nineteen years ago, BMW’s ownership of the then Rover Group was about to hit the rocks. Into its fifth year, the Rover 75 saloon had just arrived in showrooms but, behind the scenes, BMW - then a much smaller company - was spending big on engineering the Range Rover 3, the all-new Mini and a new compact Rover model.

But a failure to secure government support for a total rebuild of Rover’s ancient Longbridge site (which saw complaints made to the EU) triggered a downward spiral.

It quickly became clear the Rover 75 wasn’t going to be a big enough success, engineering for the new Rover R30 compact model was well behind schedule and progress on the Mini and Range Rover 3 had also been stuttering.

Worse still, the old Rover Longbridge site was a dead end, partly because of incoming environmental restrictions on the paint shop, which would have capped production. Without state aid to re-develop it, Longbridge was of no medium-term use.

However, the realisation that the Rover Group had run up debts of £750 million in 1999 (£1.28 billion in today’s money) was the decisive factor. Trying simultaneously to reinvent the Rover, Range Rover and Mini brands was clearly far too ambitious for BMW’s bank account.