It’s the car brand everyone thought was dead, but TVR has proven hard to kill.
The company has been been bought and sold numerous times, always seeming like it’s just on the edge of disappearing forever. In 2006, under Russian billionaire Nikolay Smolensky, it looked like it had closed its doors for the last time.
But this week TVR confirmed that it’s back. Gaming magnate Les Edgar heads a Syndicate that has brought the brand back from oblivion. So with the new Griffith bringing back memories, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the past models that made TVR the weird and wild company it is.
The new Griffith owes its name to this original model. While the exterior is slightly tamer than before, it still stays true to the wildness only TVR can provide.
During its 11 year run, the Griffith sported numerous engine choices. In its early years, buyers could spec their car with either a 4-liter or 4.3-liter Rover V8. However, in 1993 TVR developed its own 5-liter V8 for the Griffith.
With 340hp and 350lbft of torque, the engine shot the car to 60 mph in just a tick over four seconds. To put that in perspective, that’s neck and neck with the Ferrari F40, according to Car & Driver tests at the time. The Griffith is clearly no slouch.
The secret was partly its weight; the Griffith tipped the scales at just 2,300lb. TVR utilized a fiberglass body along with other weight-saving materials. This made the power-to-weight ratio excellent (and the car smell of glue).
Like most TVR models, the Griffith stayed mostly in Europe. However, it did offer a special edition “Blackpool B340” model in Japan. Gran Turismo fans might also remember the B340 showing up in the first two games.
The Chimaera is the sister car to the Griffith, but it’s the more civil of the two cars. In the sense that any TVR could be civil.
Using softer suspension and a roomier interior, the Chimaera was the closest thing TVR got to a modern grand tourer. However, because it was a GT car by TVR standards, it still was slightly mad.
With a tamer 4.0-liter Rover V8 under the hood good for 275hp and 305lbft, the car only hit 60 in 4.6 seconds. Still blazingly quick though, especially since other GT cars of the time found themselves mostly in the five- to six-second range.
Owners could also opt for the 5-liter from the Griffith as well. This gave the car a similar 0-60 time to its sibling, and made it slightly more crazy.
Options didn’t stop with the engine either. Owners could personalize their cars in pretty much any way they could dream up. The only limiting factor was how big your checkbook was.
Legend has it that the TVR owner at the time, Peter Wheeler, would let his dog, Ned, roam around the shop. While the Chimaera was still a design model, Ned went over and took a big bite out of the front bumper leaving a sizable indent. Instead of fixing the model, Wheeler went with it and sculpted in the recessed turn signals that give the car a unique look.
Arguably most Americans learned of TVR existence through the Tuscan since it ended up in several films. Swordfish, Looney Tunes Back in Action, and xXx all featured a Tuscan during the movie. Since the Tuscan never made it to American shores, chances are moviegoers had no idea what the car even was.
Using several variants of the TVR Speed Six engine, the power output of the top-of-the-line S model with a 4-liter engine came in at 400hp. This was good enough to hit 60 in 3.6 seconds, all without any form of traction control system.
In addition to the lack of traction control, the Tuscan also abstained from using anti-lock brakes and airbags. It’s hard to imagine a company thinking that today, but TVR kept with the motto if it doesn’t make our cars safer than it’s not included.
In terms of design, the Sagaris is probably the most over-the-top TVR. With slashed, cuts, vents, and jagged lines everywhere it looks like the design team used an axe. It’s fitting though since the Sagaris shares its name with an ancient battle axe.
Another key feature in the design was the dual side exit exhausts at the rear of the car. While this does make the rear of the car look a little strange, going against the norm with the design is cool at the time. Strangely the odd exhaust setup works with the zany styling of the car.
Using the same Speed Six engine from the Tuscan with some minor tweaks the Sagaris was quick. With 406hp the run to 60mph took the same 3.6 seconds all without the assistance of driving aids.
As with other TVR models, the Sagaris made its way into several video games. It’s also the only confirmed TVR model in Forza Motorsport 7. Both Gran Turismo Sport and Project Cars 2 do not have a TVR at this time, which disappoints us.
Out of all the TVR cars the Speed 12 is without a doubt to most insane of them all – and possibly the most insane road car ever. What originally started out as a GT1 race car switched to a road going car once regulation prevented it from competing in the class.
With a 7.7-liter V12 created from two Speed Six engines, the Speed 12 had an immense power output. TVR never fully tested the power output of the car though. When it first put the Speed 12 on a 1,000hp dyno it broke it. Using different testing methods TVR concluded that it was probably around 960hp. It’s certainly possible that it had more.
The run to 60 supposedly takes 2.9 seconds and the top speed is somewhere in the neighborhood of over 240mph. TVR had a goal of besting the 243mph top speed of the McLaren F1 so it’s reasonable to think it’s similar.
The unfortunate thing about the Speed 12 is that it never saw production. The story goes that Wheeler took a prototype for a spin and determined it wasn’t suitable for the public to buy. This is a man from a company that didn’t believe in any form of driver aids and built some of the craziest cars in existence. So you know when the mad scientist Wheeler says it’s too much, it’s probably an understatement.
One owner did manage to convince Wheeler to sell him a road going Speed 12 in 2003 through. Cobbled together out of spare race car parts, TVR built a one of one Cerbera Speed 12. With the ludicrous output of the engine combined with the downforce of a proper race car, this Speed 12 was even more nuts than the original concept.
Most of us can only drive virtual Speed 12s however, and it’s in several games. Five of the six main Gran Turismo games, Forza Motorsport one through four, and Race Driver: Grid all featured a Speed 12 for players to tame around the track. Or crash at incredible speed.
Of course this is only a selection of some of the most recent of the great TVRs. With a 70-year history, you’re bound to have your own personal favorite, so please join us in the forums to let us know which and why!