The 51,000-tonne Hoegh Osaka was grounded on the Bramble Bank between Southampton and the Isle of Wight after it sailed from the Hampshire port with its cargo of 1,400 luxury and standard cars ncluding one Rolls-Royce Wraith, 65 MINIs and 1,200 Jaguars and Land Rovers - as well as 80 pieces of construction equipment.
The vessel began to list as it left the port, forcing the captain and pilot to take the emergency action of beaching it on the sandbank to prevent it turning over.
The incident prompted a major rescue operation with the 24 crew members and a pilot having to be taken to safety by coastguard helicopter and RNLI lifeboats. Two people suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken to hospital.
The 180-metre Singapore-registered ship is listing at 45 degrees and the salvage operation is expected to take days, possibly weeks.
A 200-metre exclusion zone has been set up around the ship to prevent small vessels interfering with the tugs and other shipping.
Salvage company Svitzer has been appointed to lead the operation to refloat the ship. A Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said experts from Svitzer had gone on board to begin an inspection.
Meanwhile, a cargo ship that sunk with eight crew on board has been located on the seabed.
A major search effort was mounted on Saturday after the upturned hull of the Cypriot-registered Cemfjord was spotted in the waters of the Pentland Firth .
Yesterday, a sonar ship travelled to the area to search for the sunken ship and located the Cemfjord close to where the upturned hull was last seen.