TVR Heritage

Send This Page To A Friend

TVR Tasmin 3.5
When Rover assumed ownership of TVR, it was only natural to use their own engines, and not many were sweeter than the 3.5 liter V8 as used in the Tasmin...

TVR Prototype
The only TVR to feature an Aussie connection was the 1988 prototype above...

Development Of The Grantura

The origins of the TVR marque stretch back to the early 1950s, when Trevor Wilkinson set up the company in the famous UK seaside resort of Blackpool.

The compression of his first name provided the initials TVR. Wilkinson had first started tinkering with cars back in 1947, building a light alloy “special” based on an Alvis Firebird rolling chassis.

The first TVR built on its own chassis came in 1949, and was powered by a Ford side-valve engine. By 1958 the first series-production TVR “Grantura” was well under way, it evolving into the Mk III by 1962.

The Grantura featured a multi-tube frame, and a stubby fiberglass body shell, with a whole variety of proprietary engines available – and much like the Bolwell’s in Australia the majority of TVR’s were sold in kit form.

Grantura + V8 = Griffith

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 Ferrari's of the day. Wilkinson had continued to run the company up until this time, however a series of managers then saw the company struggling, and it was not until the Lilley family - father Arthur and son Martin - took over in 1965 that final stability was achieved.

Under the stewardship of the Lilleys, and over the next few years, the company gradually grew with the Grantura being replaced by the Vixen in 1967. Like the Grantura which it replaced, the Vixen featured a multi-tube backbone chassis frame, all-independent coil spring suspension and rack and pinion steering.

The engine was an 88bhp Ford Cortina GT unit of 1599cc, making the Vixen good for a top speed of 106mph. And once again TVR opted for a two-seater fixed-head coupe body made from fiberglass.

The Vixens continued to be manufactured until 1973, in four different types, all with the same Ford engine, and similar performance, though specifications, and detail styling, were improved gradually.

Following the vogue for fitting larger engines to sports-cars, TVR first produced a Ford V8 powered Griffith in 1963 (with 4.7liters and up to 271bhp), which had phenomenal acceleration, though the quality was poor. Under Martin Lilley, this car's successor was the Tuscan V8 range of 1967-70, which in its long-wheelbase form was far more a drivers car, not to mention it featuring far better build quality. The 0 to 100 mph sprint was accomplished in a little under 14 seconds, and to put that into perspective that was faster than the Cobra of the day!

The Tuscan V6

In 1969, however, TVR introduced the Tuscan V6, which was a more practical proposition for UK buyers, because it was fitted with the 2994cc Ford (UK) V6 engine, which produced 128bhp. In most other respects, the Tuscan V6 was like the Vixen of the day, but had a top speed of 125mph.

After a further diversion into producing Tuscan-based cars with the Triumph Spitfire 1300 engine of 63bhp, and the 2500 model, with a 106bhp 2498cc Triumph six-cylinder engine (which was commercially more successful), TVR then turned to making a new 'M' Series of cars from 1972.

Although still recognizably descended from the earlier TVR’s, they had all-new multi-tube frames, and a sleeker body style. Cars were built with a Ford 1599cc engine (1600M), Triumph 2498cc engine (2500M) and Ford 2944cc engine (3000M).Strangely, the spare wheel was carried up front, ahead of the engine, and the trim was altogether more up-market and luxurious.

The most powerful of all was the Turbo, made available in 1976, this having a turbocharged V6 Ford unit producing 230hp, and giving the car a top speed of nearly 140mph. Only 63 Turbos were ever built. Also from the mid 1970s, came the Taimar, effectively a 3000M with a hatchback rear body conversion, and (in 1978 and 1979 only) the Convertible, which was an open two-seater, also based on M-Series engineering, and the V6 engine.

The Tasmin Hatchback And 2+2

In 1980, TVR launched a completely new range, the “Tasmin”. These were first offered as two-seater hatchbacks, but within a year this grew to a 2 + 2, and a convertible derivative, had also been launched. All cars used the German V6 Ford fuel injected engine good for 160bhp and giving the Tasmin a top speed of approximately 130mph. There was sharp-nosed fiberglass bodywork, and a new design of multi-tube chassis.

This basic design formed the basis of TVR’s throughout the 1980’s. Late in 1981 a 2 liter version of the car was announced, this time utilizing a 1993cc Ford OHC engine, although there was a one-off 2.8 liter Turbo shown in 1982, but after ownership changed again, a Rover-engined 350i (with 3528cc V8 engine) was launched, and this was later joined by the even more fearsome 390i, in which the Rover engine was enlarged to 3.9 liters and 275bhp.

In 1988 TVR produced a prototype using a Holden V8 engine. The car was built for, and used by, the then Managing Director of TVR Peter Wheeler, however it would never make it into production. The car was obviously very quick - as PW never drove anything slow! The current owner believes the motor was some type of special Holden racing engine, if you can help please go to the readers rides section where you can view the markings.
Latest Classic Car Classifieds

Unique Cars and Parts USA - The Ultimate Classic Car Resource