For all things Rover V8, the TVR Griffith and Chimaera and TVR T-Cars
TVR press release - 2002
Over the last few years, TVR has achieved what was previously thought to be unachievable for a company of its size. Three new engines and five new cars have emerged from TVR’s Blackpool factory but none of this would have been possible without the talent and energy of TVR’s engineers and craftsmen.
The T350 is a brand new coupé based on the running gear of the universally acclaimed Tamora. The concept is to apply TVR’s expertise gained in Motor sport to a road car, and both shape and engineering owe much to TVR’s racing programme. It is intended to form the basis of a racing car for the new GT Cup class of the British GT Championship as well as for a number of overseas one-make race series. This car is available in two forms - the T350C, where C stands for coupé, and the T350T, for targa, which is the version with two removable carbon fibre panels overhead.
The T350 enjoys the performance its looks promise. It is propelled by the same 350 bhp version of TVR’s Speed Six engine that has helped the Tamora to such critical and sales success already. In the case of the T350, acceleration, top speed and handling have been helped by its aerodynamically superb shape as well as its lower weight and centre of gravity. Now in production for five years, the Speed Six is a tried and
tested unit and has performed admirably in the hothouse environment of GT endurance racing including the Spa 24 hour race in 2002. In all variants, TVR’s own engine has been designed with responsiveness in mind which is the reason for it having individual throttle butterflies per cylinder and a race-type twin plate clutch and small flywheel.
Function dominates form with the T350 and its Motor sport application determines the way the car looks. As a result, every effort has been made to maximise downforce while minimising drag. The frontal area is very smooth without a central radiator intake which helps it punch through the air easily while the sharply cut off tail punctuates
the airflow sharply to reduce drag. The sloping roofline at the back has been very precisely profiled to ensure that the airflow remains attached to the car in order to negate lift. Allied to a diffuser under the exhausts and a splitter at the front, the T350’s shape has been optimised aerodynamically in a way that is simply impossible with a two-seater convertible.
The interior of the T350 is largely based on that of the Tamora and is all the better for that. It has the same analogue readout for speed and engine revs above a switchable multi-function display which gives the driver the fullest range of information from engine water and oil temperature, outside air temperature and battery
volts to maximum and minimum values achieved (including maximum speed). A sports pack is available which will have extra readouts including lap times. With a side-opening hatchback above the large luggage area, an unexpected advantage will also come in terms of plenty of boot space with easy loading.
It is initially priced at £37,500 with standard 18” wheels for orders taken at the Motor Show although the price is expected to rise before it enters production in December.
T400R & T440R
TVRs have always been fast, as spectacular to drive as they are to look at. With the T440R, those traditional strengths have been taken to an altogether higher level. Its stunning bodywork is all carbon fibre, its massively strong chassis uses aluminium honeycomb to greatly improve its stiffness, and its hugely powerful engine is connected to TVR’s own six speed sequential gearbox. It is TVR’s technological tour de force, a 215 mph showcase for TVR’s abilities.
Two versions of the car are available - the T400R which has a 400 bhp 4 litre engine and the ultimate T440R. The engine of the T440R is a derivative of TVR’s own Speed Six engine but has been extensively developed in order to produce a huge 440 bhp. It is bigger than any other TVR six cylinder engine at 4.2 litres and has a raft of high tech Motor sport componentry. 60 mph comes up in less than 4 seconds but it is from there to its top speed of 215 mph that the Tuscan R really leaves the competition standing.
To cope with all that power, the car has not just a new chassis, but a new type of chassis. Designed from the ground up with the aid of sophisticated CAD/CAM software, the rigidity of the steel chassis is added to significantly by the race-type rollcage and the use of aluminium honeycomb and carbon fibre for the floor. Also a first for a roadgoing TVR is to have adjustable dampers whereby customers will be able to fine-tune the suspension set up of their T440Rs for road or circuit use. Brakes are powerful ventilated discs all round with four piston callipers at the front with a high performance option of even bigger discs and six piston callipers for even better stopping ability.
You can count the number of road cars that have had all-carbon fibre bodywork on the fingers of one hand - McLaren F1, Ferrari F40 and now TVR T440R. More normally found in the aerospace or Motor sport industries, this material is expensive but is extraordinarily light and strong.
Aerodynamics have played an increasingly significant role in the design of TVRs over the last few years and the T400R and T440R take this to the logical next level. A lot of attention has been paid to drag and lift with the result that its coupé shape owes most of its from to the demands of the aerodynamicists. A phenomenally low drag coefficient of 0.32 is the result of all this attention to detail and its virtually flat floor, front splitter and rear diffuser work together to give it unparalleled high speed stability.
The interior of the T440R reflects its race car underpinnings with a distinctly minimalist style pervading the interior. Unusually, the carbon fibre and aluminium structure of the car is highly polished and left on show, giving the cabin a utilitarian but extremely high quality feel. The seats are unique to the model and are manufactured from carbon fibre but trimmed from the highest quality Scottish hides.
The £36,500 TVR Tamora followed the Tuscan in the new generation of TVRs. In the same way that the Chimaera was engineered to be a more accessible sister to the Griffith , so the Tamora is based on the Tuscan Speed Six, whose platform it shares. Having been shown for the first time at the Birmingham Motor Show in October 2000, the first cars were delivered to customers in early January 2002.
With more conservative styling than its bigger stablemate and more easily recognisable TVR styling cues, the Tamora has been designed to be less extreme and indeed simpler in some aspects. For example, the car is a full convertible with the roof mechanism being the acclaimed stowable hardtop design from the Griffith and Chimaera. The covered headlights and clean lines have echoes of Griffith and Chimaera but are right up to date.
The engine is a new 3.6 litre version of TVR’s own straight six, pushing out 350 bhp at 7200 rpm and 290 ft . lb. of torque at
5500 rpm which will give the car extremely brisk performance. Maximum revs is at 8000 rpm. It shares the same dry sump, 24 valve technology as the 4.0 litre Speed Six engine found in the Cerbera and the Tuscan as well as that found in the successful Tuscan R racing car. It does, however, sound different due to an all-new stainless steel and titanium exhaust system. Performance is on a par with much more exotic machinery with 60 mph coming up in 4.4 seconds and 100 mph in 9.5. Top speed is over 170 mph .
Handling is benign but involving with double wishbones and coil springs over gas filled shock absorbers and the ride makes it easy to use every day. Riding on the 16” wheels of the standard Tuscan ( 18” wheels are an optional extra) but with its own British developed and made Avon ZZ3 tyres, the handling has been fine-tuned so as to provide a very high level of grip in both wet and dry with a very progressive breakaway in the end. The steering is an all-new arrangement with electrical assistance that gives an informative but not intimidating level of feedback. Brakes are considerable cross drilled and ventilated discs all round (304mm front and 282mm rear) with four piston callipers at the front and the front roll cage and door beams are manufactured out of very strong T45 steel. Despite all this hardware, the composite bodywork and weight-saving construction methods means that this car is the lightest of the current generation of TVRs at just over 1,000 kg .
It is again the interior where the stylists and engineers have surpassed themselves with a multi-function digital display, shift lights and two analogue dials for quick glance down viewing of speed and engine revs. There are two race-style bucket seats made out of lightweight composites to hold the driver and passenger in place and a floor mounted pedal box that is mounted through to the chassis. The window mechanism is of the Tuscan/Cerbera generation in that the window slides up into the seal as the door is closed for less wind noise at speed.
The car is named after Tamora, who was a Queen of the Goths. New at the 2002 Birmingham International Motor Show are new front spotlights, repositioned taillights and body coloured bonnet vents and diffuser.
The TVR Tuscan Speed Six went into production early in 2000 and since then TVR have built more than 2,000 of them. While many of them have been delivered to TVR’s existing customers, a far larger proportion than ever before were from people who decided to transfer their allegiance away from mass manufacturers. Recently TVR have updated the range with two versions - a 3.6 litre car with the engine that is also used in the Tamora and a 390 bhp 4.0 litre car, which is designated Tuscan S.
The TVR Tuscan Speed Six is in essence a convertible in which two people and their luggage could go on holiday for a month with creature comforts like air conditioning and power steering but without the car weighing much more than 1000kg. It has TVR’s own straight six engine and has a novel roof design whereby, despite looking like a fixed head coupé, it is able to stow its roof and rear window in the boot, while still leaving room for luggage. No computers have been used in the styling of the car and TVR’s team of stylists, led by Damien McTaggert but with the close involvement of Chairman Peter Wheeler, took two years sculpting the shape of this future classic.
There are a number of advantages in designing a car in the manner that TVR does. Sculpting and developing the shape solely by hand is an inordinately time-consuming business. Just as one only truly appreciates the lines of a car when one washes it, so it is TVR’s belief that one can only really get to grips with the design of a car over a long period of time. Furthermore, it is impossible to control a surface as subtly on a computer screen as when sculpting the car by hand. It is with this in mind that one should view the new Tuscan. When a vehicle is mass-produced the tooling takes longer to develop than the styling but that is categorically not the case here. The whole philosophy at TVR is that the shape of the car comes first so the constraints of conventional industry thinking have not been an issue.
As such, the philosophy behind the styling of the car has been that function and form have been combined and the
result has been left on show. Many of the features that make this car extraordinary are there for sound engineering reasons but the simplicity and elegance of their form enhances the overall look of the car. For instance, the unusual bonnet arrangement, whereby the main piece of the bonnet is bolted into the car, is there for the reasons that it is in most racing cars. It is actually lightly stressed and means that one is able to duct the airflow very precisely. Furthermore, it is bolted into place and therefore can be manufactured lighter. One of the notable features of the car is the way that the shutlines run along the top of the car so that if you draw them, you draw the shape of the car. This shows its lines off to the best advantage but also gives a far bigger boot opening to make the roof much easier to stow in the boot.
While it might be possible to say that the exterior design of the car is relatively extravagant in concept, TVR has taken a minimalist approach to the interior. The very highest quality components have been used and once again, function has determined form. The curved aluminium top to the dash, for example, actually acts as one of the transverse strengthening beams for the car. The pedal box, again hand made from extremely high quality components, is left on show as it would be a shame to hide craftsmanship like it and it also serves to make individual fittings for customers that much easier.
The original thinking of TVR’s team of engineers and designers has also manifested itself in the instrument binnacle, again manufactured in house by TVR. The advantage of this is that it enables one to link it to the engine management system which, combined with a number of other sensors, results in an extremely comprehensive range of instrumentation being available. Most immediately noticeable is the use of
aluminium and brass which is a combination not seen in a car for many decades and which gives a sensation of warmth in the car without using walnut. It is also notable that a revcounter is not among the analogue gauges. This goes against the longstanding trend that in sports cars the revcounter should be to the forefront. However, with today’s engine management systems and the far wider rev ranges of modern power plants, it is no longer necessary to monitor the engine speed all the time.
Indeed, nowadays, even in racing applications, road speed is far more important. Yet for those who wish it, the graphical LCD display in the middle of the binnacle displays engine speed with just the two salient digits clearly visible, Formula One style.
Alternatively, a myriad of further readouts is easily selectable via a rotary knob and so, while the binnacle is extremely sophisticated, its appearance and operation is simplicity itself. These readouts include road speed, engine speed, fuel level, oil level, water temperature, oil temperature, ambient air temperature, oil pressure, fuel pressure and battery voltage. Minimum and maximum readings are recorded.
Furthermore, on the top of the instrument binnacle is a graduated shift light that again takes its inspiration from Formula One racing cars. This whole binnacle adjusts up and down with the steering wheel so all the gauges are always visible. The jewellers’ quality of the exterior is matched by an extremely high tech interior with mapped stepper motors operating the water temperature and fuel gauges which learn as they go along and an aircraft grade stepper motor controlling the speedometer so that the instrument can keep up with the performance of the car.
All the rest of the switchgear is in the driver’s line of sight and once again is simple and elegant. With the exception of the heater and window controls, all these extremely expensive switches, as well as the radio, are mounted high up on the dashboard. A lot of thinking has also gone into the design of the seats which have the seatbelts built into the backrest so that the buckle always falls easily to hand. Furthermore, it is impossible to build a seat height adjuster into such a low car so the squab is removable. This is primarily so that the many TVR owners who take their cars on track days can more easily get into the car with a crash helmet on while benefiting from increased lateral support.
The styling of the car has been very much influenced by the fact that it has a straight six mounted between the front wheels and it is this engine which is the heart of the car. Straight sixes have somewhat gone out of fashion because they cannot be mounted transversely, be it in the front, middle or back of the car. However, TVR’s adherence to the true course of sports car manufacture, i.e. mounting the engines in the front to drive the rear wheels, makes it possible to use this most classic of sport scar engines. However, while one eye has been on the
past in terms of the tradition of the layout, the other has been resolutely forward as the engine is very much up to date.
Gruelling tests over the last three and a half years have shown its performance and reliability in Tuscan prototypes as well as the Cerbera Speed Six. Furthermore, in its doubled up, twelve cylinder form, the engine has seen competition in the mighty Speed Twelve.
One of the inherent characteristics of a straight six is that it can be perfectly balanced and this particular one has a capacity of four litres and a power output of 360 bhp. The all aluminium engine breaks away from the TVR mould in that it has a number of new features. It is the first of TVR’s own engines to feature a four valves per cylinder head which gives higher volumetric efficiency at high rpm which helps to give it its sporty nature. Furthermore it has finger followers which allow higher valve accelerations which improve the engine’s torque. It also has chain driven twin overhead camshafts for a quiet reliable drive. However, it also features a grade of high quality components and a level of high technology design on a parallel with its eight and twelve cylinder sisters.
Like the Speed Twelve and racing variants of the Speed Eight engine, it has a dry sump which means it can sit very low in the chassis and that it doesn’t suffer from oil surge which can be a problem with the long sump required for this configuration of engine. In addition, the engine is canted over 15 degrees to enable the bonnet line to be even lower. It also features forged steel conrods, slipper style lightweight pistons, thin wall cylinder liners and a fully counterweighted nodular iron crankshaft. The chassis is based on that of the Cerbera but in this case is 8” shorter. This means that it has improved interior room over the Griffith and Chimaera but as the overall thinking behind it, and indeed the dimensions, stem from the Tuscan Challenge racing car, the balance of the chassis between ride and handling is as well honed as ever. The other advantage of basing the chassis on that of TVR’s one make race series car is that there is probably no chassis anywhere in the world that has been so often and so comprehensively crash tested. Safety has been uppermost in the designers thoughts throughout the process and the roll cage, door beams and transverse aluminium tube are evidence of that. The brakes are 294mm at the front with superb four pot aluminium callipers and are 273mm at the rear.
The Tuscan S is a development of the old red rose Tuscan but with a number of significant developments. At the forefront of these is a revision of the chassis geometry with different kingpin inclination and less bump steer to specifically set the car up for the 18” wheels which come as standard on this car. Spring and damper rates are also now stiffer than they were originally to complement the car’s new chassis and extra power. The brakes have also been enlarged to 322mm at the front and 298mm at the rear. They remain cross-drilled and ventilated all round and the callipers remain the same also.
The engine of the Tuscan S has been further developed to produce 390 bhp at 7000rpm and 310 ft .lbs of torque at 5250 rpm. The Tuscan S also features most of the Tuscan’s options list as standard. Among these are air conditioning, gas discharge main beam headlamps and a DAB stereo, which receives the latest digital radio broadcasts. It is the first production car to have one of these fitted as standard.
The TVR Cerbera began life in the early summer of 1993 as a styling exercise by TVR’s team of designers, who were very quickly given the go-ahead to start building full scale models. They sculpted the car out of full-size blocks of foam rather than being constrained by the two dimensions of a paper sketch or the dehumanising aspects of design by computer.
A handsome Grand Tourer began to take shape and it was easy to see that the car would be a winner so a running prototype was prepared for the 1993 London Motor Show. Unencumbered by endless committees, TVR was able to complete the prototype in record time and the Cerbera was unveiled at the show. It was greeted with tremendous acclaim. Orders flooded in, a further 276 of them at the 1994 Birmingham Motor Show alone.
Since then, almost every aspect of the car has been improved. Originally, the Cerbera was designed to be powered by the TVR Power Rover based engines but it was decided that TVR’s own engine, the Speed Eight, would be a more suitable power plant. The Cerbera was the first roadgoing TVR to feature the Speed Eight engine.
This engine is quite remarkable in design in that it owes more to the current trend in racing engines than to anything that has ever been seen before in a road car. In other words, instead of basing a race engine on an existing road engine, TVR have developed an engine for the Cerbera out of a race engine. The result is that the Speed Eight has many features in it which would be more commonly found on an F1 engine. Examples of these are its extremely sophisticated water circulation system, its lubrication system which delivers oil at high pressure to the engine and at low pressure to the crankshaft and a block so rigid that it can be used as a stressed member. An all alloy engine with its eight cylinders arranged in a 75 degree Vee, the Speed Eight engine has more torque in its various specifications than any other normally aspirated petrol engine of equivalent size and weight.
At 121 kg , the engine is indeed lighter than the V8 F1 and F3000 engines with which it shares so many features. Many Speed Eight engine components are of extremely high quality such as the pistons and connecting rods, which are forged, and the camshafts, which are rifle-bored and are made of solid billet EN40B steel. The net result is that the Speed Eight has performed extremely well in the most gruelling test known to engineers: to give forty of them to TVR Tuscan racing drivers to try to blow up every weekend for the past five seasons.
Although sharing styling cues with the Chimaera, the Cerbera is a completely new car with new brakes, chassis, suspension and a different construction method. Introduced in response to overwhelming customer demand for a 2+2, the Cerbera has seen TVR return to a market sector that it has not inhabited since 1985. With the Cerbera’s interior, TVR have discarded conventional thinking and have created a dashboard binnacle in which all the instruments are right in front of the driver. The clock and the fuel gauge, visible through the steering wheel, and a fresh air vent are situated under the steering column and are adjustable for reach and rake with it. Mounted on the steering wheel are controls for the main beam, windscreen washers and wipers as well as the horn.
The Cerbera is more than a normal 2+ 2 in that, in terms of the configuration of its seating arrangement, it would be better described as a 3+1. The front passenger seat is able to slide forward further than normal, thereby freeing a substantial amount of extra legroom for the passenger sitting directly behind. Attention has been paid to the ease of access to the rear seats which in too many 2+2s is unnecessarily difficult. Therefore, the Cerbera’s doors are long enough to make getting into the back seats much easier.
Cerbera is pronounced Sir - burr - uh and is derived from the mythological beast, Cerberus, who was the brother of the Chimaera. In addition, in Italian, una cerbera is a frightening, fierce woman.
The Cerbera actually comes with three different engines. The Cerbera Speed Six was the first car to be fitted with TVR’s own straight six and has softer suspension and higher profile tyres to give a more comfortable ride and less road noise in line with its grand touring design. Very much in the tradition of British sports cars of the sixties but with modern abilities, the Cerbera Speed Six is a coupe with a very British, very sporting nature.
The Cerbera 4.2 remains in production for those customers who prefer a V8 and the Cerbera 4.5 gives a range topping 420 bhp and 380 ft .lbs. of torque. Getting to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, 100 in 8.1 and 150 in 17.9, the Cerbera 4.5 is one of the fastest road cars in existence. With larger brakes, modified suspension and larger wheels and tyres, the Cerbera 4.5 offers the handling and
braking to match its performance, stopping from 100 mph in only 3.8 seconds. The 4.5 Cerbera also includes a Hydratrak speed sensitive differential as standard.
For the 2000 model year, lights, A pillars, roofline and seats were changed and lightweight bonnet, doors and bootlid were introduced on the Cerbera 4.5. In 2002, the headlight housings were faired into the wings for even smoother lines at the same time as the suspension being upgraded.
For 2002, all TVR Cerberas now have a new suspension set-up, the most notable parts of the which are gas-filled dampers which TVR has developed in conjunction with HBE to incorporate a highly unusual damper curve. By ramping up the rebound very quickly at higher piston speeds, traction and ride can be improved at the same time as high-speed body control. Cerbera prices, however, remain unchanged at £41,100 for the 4.2 and Speed Six and £46,500 for the 4.5.
It is also now possible for customers to have a red rose conversion for any TVR Cerbera 4.5. It gives 440 bhp at 7250 rpm and 390 ft .lbs. at 5500 rpm (up from 420 bhp at 6750 rpm and 380 ft .lbs at 5500 rpm). With reshaped inlet and exhaust ports to increase the flow of gases and a higher compression ratio giving about 50% of the improvement, the rest is only available when using 97 octane super unleaded petrol. The red rose conversion actually has a dashboard mounted switch to control which fuelling and ignition map is used to enable the engine to take advantage of the higher octane fuel while avoiding detonation when using the more easily available lower octane fuel. The conversion is priced at £2350.
The TVR Chimaera was introduced at the 1992 Birmingham Motor Show and was instantly hailed a success. Based on the award-winning Griffith , the Chimaera went into production in February 1993, then fitting into TVR’s model line-up between the V8S and the Griffith.
The name Chimaera refers back to Greek mythology, which speaks of a fire-breathing monster thus named with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent.
The Chimaera is powered by a 285 bhp 4.5 litre engine with the option of the 320 bhp powerplant out of the Griffith 500. This gives effortless performance, which fits the Chimaera’s dual role of Grand Tourer and sport scar.
New at the 1996 Motor Show was a subtly revised Chimaera with a fresh nose and tail
which brought it into line with the Cerbera. In addition, it now featured much of the extraordinarily high quality aluminium switchgear from its 2+2 sister as well as door opening buttons under the door mirrors. For 2001, the car had a revised front end again with covered headlights as well as having Cerbera seats fitted and the full complement of TVR’s much praised aluminium switchgear.
While still very much a sport scar, the Chimaera is more of a grand tourer than any other model in the TVR range with somewhat more benign handling characteristics and a larger boot. However, the Chimaera’s handling has not been left to chance with a chassis developed directly from that of the racing TVR Tuscan. With strong ventilated disc brakes all round, the Chimaera stops as well as it goes.
It takes TVR’s craftsmen 450 man hours to build every Chimaera and the attention to detail is immediately obvious from the hand stitching of the leather seats to the shine of the burr walnut dashboard. The switchgear is machined from the highest quality billet aluminium and so proud is TVR of its manufacturing process that every customer is encouraged to visit the factory to see his or her car being built.
TVR has been involved in motor racing since the days when it was only a fledgling sport scar manufacturer. However, unlike most car manufacturers, TVR has not just used Motor sport as part of a marketing programme. Racing is an absolutely core part of TVR’s make-up. Key components are almost always trialled in the cauldron of Motor sport before finding their way into road cars and lessons learnt on the track, especially in the sphere of aerodynamics, are applied to road car design. Such is TVR’s commitment to the sport that from Peter Wheeler down, many of TVR’s senior staff race themselves.
The early high point of TVR Motor sport was in 1962 when TVR entered three Granturas in the Le Mans 24 hours race. In the 1970s, there were a large number of works-assisted cars competing in the Prodsports championships and a 1600M won the CAV-BRSCC Prodsports series in 1979 and a 3000M won every race it was entered in and the BRDC Prodsports series in 1980. V6 and V8 engined Tasmins were campaigned with some success over the ensuing years until a 420SEAC was banned from racing in 1986 because it was too fast and was running away with every race it was entered in.
The next stage was the TVR Tuscan Challenge for which a new car was designed and built. The world’s fastest one-marque race series is now into its fourteenth season and is more successful than ever. With 460 bhp in a car only
weighing 860kg, the Tuscans are spectacularly fast but, with long braking distances and more power than grip, they have developed into an extremely popular race series. As many as forty-two cars have been on the grid at the same time and the championship has proved extremely successful with sponsors, competitors and spectators alike. Lancashire-based oil company Carlube announced a three year sponsorship deal guaranteeing over £50,000 a year in prize money. Television audiences all over the world have watched Steve Guglielmi win his second consecutive title in 2002 with strong competition from Andy Britnell as well as a new crop of hard chargers including Jay Shepherd, Richard Hay, Lee Caroline, Robert Urquhart and David Mason. Even bigger grids are already expected in the 2003 Carlube TVR Tuscan Challenge, the calendar for which will be published before the end of the year.
However, Tuscan racing has only been part of TVR’s Motor sport effort since the first Cerbera GT car was announced in 1994. Three versions of the Cerbera have been campaigned and all have won races. The first Cerbera GT2 used the 4.5 litre Speed Eight engine whereas the Cerbera GTO that completed the gruelling 24 hour FIA GT race at Spa in 2002 was propelled by the Speed Six engine. The third of TVR’s family of engines, the mighty 7.7 litres Speed 12 has also been used in two GT cars including the extraordinary Cerbera Speed 12 which pioneered TVR’s use of carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb.
The biggest news of 2002 has been the T400R, previously called the Tuscan R, which has proved to be one of the most impressive of the latest generation of GT cars. Three of them have competed most successfully in the British GT Championship and TVR is currently evaluating the possibility of taking them into international competition.
The latest news is potentially just as exciting as there is already a busy racing programme planned for the new T350. Much of the design has been by directly influenced by the demands of Motor sport and negotiations are underway for three one-make race series for them overseas. Furthermore, all indications are that it will be eligible for the new Cup Class of the British GT Championship.
TVR’s brand new website at www.tvr.co.uk has a free email news subscription service and the latest updates will be available on it before they are anywhere else.
The TVR story effectively began in 1947 when a young engineer, Trevor Wilkinson, built himself a light alloy special based on an Alvis Firebird rolling chassis. The first TVR with its own chassis was built in 1949 with Ford side-valve power. By 1956, TVRs were being sold in the U.S. and in 1958 production of the Grantura was well and truly under way. By the standards of the day, Granturas were fast, agile and good-looking. Indeed something of a TVR formula was emerging: strong tubular steel chassis covered in good looking bodywork and propelled by a strong engine to give impressive performance at a very reasonable price.
In 1963 a major milestone was reached with the introduction of the first TVR Griffith, which was fundamentally a Grantura with a modified chassis and a big American V8 under the bonnet. Performance of these cars was very much in the AC Cobra league, enough to severely embarrass the Jaguars and Ferraris of the day.
In 1966 management of TVR was stabilised in the hands of the Lilleys and over the next few years the company gradually grew with the Grantura being replaced by the Vixen and the Griffith by the Tuscan V8. In 1970 TVR moved to its current factory in Bristol Avenue from where it has never moved, although the premises have been expanded enormously over the last 30 years.
In 1972, the M series was introduced which was to serve TVR extremely well through the ‘70s. As the years progressed the M was sold in fixed head coupe, hatchback, convertible and turbo charged forms, the last accelerating quicker than the Porsche 911 Turbo.
In 1980, the Tasmin was introduced with a new chassis, new body and a new engine. Power came from the Ford 2.8 unit and there were Coupé, Convertible and 2+2 models. In 1982 TVR’s current owner and chairman, Peter Wheeler, took over and in the following year the first of the Rover V8 engined TVRs was introduced: the 350i. Over the years, the cars got faster and more sophisticated, culminating in the mighty 450 SEAC of 1988 that produced 324 bhp from a TVR modified 4500cc V8 engine.
A new chapter in TVR’s history was introduced with the birth of the S, which went into production in 1987. Although it looked superficially like the M Series, it was an all-new car and with its stunningly low price, it transformed TVR’s fortunes and saw production almost double in a year.
However, it was the Griffith that was really responsible for TVR’s renaissance. The first cars were delivered to customers at the beginning of 1992 and the car was overwhelmingly successful. An order was taken on average every eight minutes at its first Motor Show and, with the introduction of the Griffith 500 in 1993, it reached the first rank of the instant classics. Although an era came to an end in 2002 when the last car rolled off TVR’s production line, the Griffith will be remembered more than anything as being the car that put TVR on the map.
The TVR Chimaera went into production in 1993 and since then more than ten thousand of them have been built, making it the most popular TVR ever. Still in production nearly ten years later, the Chimaera is the unsung hero of the TVR range.
In 1996, the first roadgoing TVR with a TVR designed and built engine, the Cerbera, was launched. Thanks to five years of development and two years of gruelling testing in the Motor sport arena, the Speed Eight engine, which propels it, has among the highest power and torque to weight ratios of any normally aspirated road engines for the road.
TVR’s second engine to be designed from a clean sheet of paper made its production debut the following year. The Speed Six engine benefits from the latest Motor sport technology but with its six cylinders in line it is firmly part of the tradition of the best of the British sport scars. Only a year later, TVR’s third engine made its competition debut as TVR moved up to the GT1 class. The mighty Speed 12 was powered by TVR’s own 880 bhp, 7.7 litre V12.
In 2000, deliveries of the new Tuscan began and it rapidly became TVR’s best selling model. The Cerbera Speed 12 was also introduced with the racing version scoring a maiden win at Silverstone in its very first season whereas in 2001, the Tamora was introduced to bring a new level of accessibility to the TVR range.
Now a new generation of TVR coupés is shown at British International Motor Show. The T350 as well as the T400R and T440R take TVR into a new sector of the marketplace and confirm TVR’s place in the first rank of sport scar manufacturers.