TVR will unveil its all-new sports car this Friday, 8 September 2017, at the Goodwood Revival Earls Court Motor Show marking the brand’s 70th anniversary. Our comic hero Spencer haze loves them and you can read what he says later.
If you can’t wait that long then the idea of owning an old TVR is always going to be more appealing than the reality: breaking down. TVR and clockwork reliability is rarely mentioned in the same sentence. To own a TVR is to live with constant fettling and sudden unexplained electrical failures. This is all part of the ownership experience and what an experience. Owners can and do complain about the marginal mpg, reliability and sheer bloody expense of running a TVR, but hardly any regret the experience.
TVR Buying Guide
Where do I start? The short answer is with a very long checklist, but perhaps one of the most sensible things you can do is buy from a TVR dealer or a long established specialist. Obviously it will cost you more, but there will be warranties and all sorts of reassuring things like that. Otherwise should you be worried? Well, I recently spoke to a garage who had carried out a pre purchase inspection on a Chimera and were still traumatised by the experience. It took them forty-five minutes to open the bonnet. Hopefully you won’t even have to worry about doing anything as complicated as that, but first impressions are vital, lets do the easy stuff first.
Look for the service records and ask to see receipts because all TVRs must be ramped and stamped to be worth a second look. Factory rebuilds on their engines within 20,000 miles are not unheard of and there were other service upgrades. Ask the owner, although often they will boast up chips and things, you need to know who did it. Many TVRs seem to be quite promiscuous as owners trade up, not a bad thing but are they trading out of a troublesome car?
Stone chips are a fact on all but the most cosseted TVR. If there are no chips perhaps there has been a respray, ask why? Incidentally the chassis is plastic coated and this should be intact to avoid rot. Convertibles can be leaky, try and get them wet.
V8 engines are generally very tough and the oil pressure should be between 25lb and 30 lb once warmed up. Early Speed Six units were troublesome and buying late, post 1999 is the best option. Be aware that tuning any TVR correctly to get it through the MOT can be tough and is best left to the experts with the right equipment.
Mad electrics are part of the fun including truculent immobilisers, electric windows and instrumentation. Dodgy ECUs are at the root of those problems and are often easy and fairly cheap to fix.
The gruff Griff that started it all and it still looks drop dead gorgeous today. Tuscan racer’s stiff chassis underneath and most models have a 4.3 under the bonnet. After 1995 it got power steering although hardcore users would rightly want a 500 which utterly overwhelms the Griff which is perfect really.
TVR’s bread and butter motor so there are lots around, but this is no pussy MGB because it will rip the dogtooth pattern cap off your bounce within a yard. Yet with the 4.0 V8 it is relatively docile for a TVR. If you can live with one of these and put up with the inevitable grief, whether it be insurance or reliability then you can graduate to the big stuff.
0-60 in 4.0 seconds is a sensational conversation stopper and starter in the pub. It looks like pure evil and needs getting used to, if that is ever possible. Whilst everyone forgives a Ferrari for its thoroughbred foibles, a Cerbera gets it in the neck, but pound for pound you won’t ever get more supercar for so little money.
It’s got a sensational six-cylinder engine and it is fantastically quick and it looks like it is from another planet. Just three good reasons to go Tuscan, but there is another, it has become very affordable very quickly. Taxes your driving skill like no other car and it is worth it for that alone.