Bertone has landed in some very hot water and is facing Italian bankruptcy court within a week. The courts in Turin seem to think that the best thing for the company's 1,300 employees would be for it to shut down and go into bankruptcy protection. But before it draws its last breath, the famous Italian carrozzeria has one last trick up its sleeve, which is expected to be revealed later today.

The coachbuilder has long since evolved from being the small design house it once was into a major manufacturing facility, with capacity to produce 70,000 cars each year. But in order to break even, it needs to build at least 30,000 per year. It was building a special-edition MINI, but that ended over a year ago, and production of the Astra convertible ended two years ago. Over the last three years, according to reports, Bertone has lost €37.3 million ($55.4 million).

Industry insiders are speculating as to what Bertone's plan of action might entail, fueled by a release from chairman, CEO and owner Lili Bertone, which stated that the company received "a letter of intent from an industrial group with a strong track record in the automotive field." That hardly narrows it down, but speculation points towards former Fiat and Telecom Italia exec Gianmario Rossignolo, who is tipped to be preparing to produce a new SUV in Italy. We'll just have to wait and see.

[Source: Automotive News Europe - subscription required]