Britains Little Sports Car That Could The TVR

Published: 31st January 2012
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Tracing it's heritage all the way back to 1947, TVR is one of the great sports car makers of the world. Building very limited quantities of truly exceptional cars has been the standard they have created by for more than six decades.

Tracing it's heritage all the way back to 1947, TVR is one of the great sports car makers of the world. Building very limited quantities of truly exceptional cars has been the standard they have created by for more than six decades.

In 1947 Trevor Wilkinson created Trevcar Motors. As a 23 year old engineer he began by manufacturing and selling parts for army vehicles. Using the success of his company Trevor created his first bespoke car. Based on the Alvis Firebird chassis, his one off specialty competition car began what has been the long history of TVR.

In 1954 Trevcar Motors was rebranded TVR. Still building one off cars, true production cars didn't start until 1958. These made to order cars started as the TVR Mk I, but later became known as the Grantura Mk I. However, early the early TVR days were filled with financial hardships. In 1962 the company was in receivership and Trevor Wilkinson had resigned.

In 1965, after several years of hardship, TVR was purchased by shareholders Arthur and Martin Lilley. The two changed TVR's name to TVR Engineering and worked to raise the level of quality of the cars, an issue that TVR had struggled with and led to slow sales. In 1966 the TVR Tina Spyder was shown in Turin. Unfortunately the Tina Spyder never reached production. The late 60s saw the introduction of the Vixen S1, a Ford powered car, and the V6 powered Tuscan V6.

TVR's new designs and attention to detail forced the company to grow to accommodate the demand for this top shelf sports car. At 25 cars a month Martin Lilley decided to keep production small and focus on engineering, quality and exclusiveness. A business model that has seen TVR through many tough years. After a major setback in 1975, a fire that destroyed much of the factory, TVR responded by releasing three more cars in the late 70s. The 3000M Turbo in 1975, the Taimar in 1976, and the TVR convertible (3000S) in 1978.

By 1981 the company was again starting to struggle. Enter Peter Wheeler, a chemical engineer. Wheeler began the push to more performance minded design. With the introduction of V8 powerplants and the Tasmin series cars TVR entered a new era. Most cars were powered by the Buick Rover 3.5 liter Rover, but a few came with the 4.2 liter engine.

In 1988 Wheeler took TVR racing. The Tuscan Racer was developed for the Tuscan Challenge Racing Series. Based on a heavily modified S Series chassis, it was powered by a 3.5 liter V8. The racing experience gained with the Tuscan lead to the introduction of the TVR Griffith in 1989. Response to the Griffith was incredible. 350 cars were ordered before production even began. In 1992 TVR Griffiths began rolling out of the factory powered by first a 4.0 liter V8, then a 4.2 liter and finally a 5.0 liter Rover V8.

TVR's new path was set. The next ten years saw the release of several outstanding race inspired cars. The redesigned Tuscan was introduced in 2000, the Tamora based T350 in 2002 and the prototype Sagaris in 2003.

In 2004 Nikola Smolensky took over at TVR. Unfortunately he was the last owner at TVR to develop and produce any cars. The 2004 through 2006 prototype Sagaris was the last car TVR was to produce. In 2006 TVR was split up in to smaller subsidiaries and relocated. Since then several attempts have been made to restart TVR. In 2007 Smolensky announced the Sagaris 2, but the car never materialized.

In 2011 TVR began to offer maintenance and over haul services for all TVRs and taking offers to build several models including the Sagaris, Tuscan Convertible, Tuscan Mark II, Cerbera, Chimaera and Griffith to bespoke specifications.

TVRs 70 year history has come full circle from bespoke custom cars through full production and back to bespoke custom cars. Through its long and sometimes troubled history TVR has remained one of the most popular, and exclusive, British sports cars.

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