American-made Jeeps will pose a threat to auto giant British Leyland starting next month.

The state-owned auto group's domination of the lucrative four-wheel-drive market will face severe competition for the first time - from a vehicle that made its debut in 1940.

A range of Jeeps manufactured by American Motors Corp. is to be introduced in Britain in November.

AMC has signed an agreement with importers Tozer Kemsley, Milbourn Group, who are hoping to sell 1,000 Jeeps in the first year.

TKM openly says it is hoping to cash in on Leyland's well-publicized inability to meet heavy demand.

With Leyland quoting delivery dates of six months or more for the Land Rover and two years for the Range Rover, TKM is hoping to make a big impact on the market.

Chris Tennant, chief of TKM, said: "Obviously we are going to be in direct competition to British Leyland. They cannot supply the vehicles the customer wants.

"We prefer to think of ourselves as taking up the slack in the market. The potential is pretty enormous."

Tennant hopes to have a string of about 60 dealers by the end of next year.

TKM already has the franchises for BMW and Mazda, and also is introducing the Japanese Daihatsu to compete against the less expensive Ranger Rovers.