Brazilian sports car maker Lobini will exhibit its H1 model for the first time in UK during the Goodwood Festival of Speed opening this week.

The unveiling is the first step in Lobini's plan to sell the vehicle in the country by the end of 2007.

The H1 was introduced in Brazil last year and has a steel tubular chassis, fibreglass body with targa roof and scissors doors.

According to the company, the car was developed in Brazil following the formula for small and light vehicles that makes British sports car manufacturers famous.

To help the company create a British style car in Brazil, Lobini employed English automotive engineer Graham Holmes as a consultant on the project.

"As a result from the beginning the H1 project included a version with right hand drive,", said Fábio Birolini, a Lobini founder and engineering head of the automaker.

The H1 has a mid-mounted 180hp 1.8-litre Volkswagen turbocharged engine. "UK market engines will be changed to comply with local emissions and environmental rules", said Birolini.

The H1 is built in Cotia city, São Paulo state. The company currently makes three cars a month and expects to boost volume to four in the last quarter of this year. By the end of 2007, the sports car maker plans to increase output to 100 cars a year.

Lobini expects to sell 40% of its production in Brazil, market, 40% in the United States and the remainder in other countries, including the UK.

It has signed an agreement with American company 1g Racing to sell the H1 in the United States by 2007. The model will be sold there as a kit car. 1g Racing currently imports and sells UK-made Noble Cars in America.

"For the UK we have a partnership with the Lifestyle Automotive company", revealed Birolini.

Lifestyle Automotive also sells the TD2000 model, a replica of a 1950s MG sports car.

Lifestyle will use an H1 now in UK for testing on the compliance suspension rig at the Lotus Engineering laboratory.

Lobini was founded in 1998 by José Orlando Lobo and Fábio Birolini and the H1 was developed in conjunction with Chamonix, a Brazilian company that produces fiberglass replicas of old Porsche models.

The first H1 prototype was shown at the São Paulo Auto Show in 2002 and sales started in August last year.

Last November the businessman Antônio Ermírio de Moraes Filho assumed control of Lobini. He is the son of Antônio Ermírio de Moraes, one of the richest people in Brazil and owner of Votorantim Group, one of the largest private conglomerates in the country, that is involved in a wide range of market activities including cement, pulp and paper, orange juice and mining.

The new owner gives Lobini new, strong financial backing.

Rogério Louro