The first model of an all-new, all-British TVR range could be on the market in two years’ time.
It will be part of an initial two-car range that will be “entirely in character” with the cars that TVR was making a decade ago under former owner Peter Wheeler. So says chairman Les Edgar, the Surrey-based Aston Martin racer and computer games millionaire who recently led an investor group to buy TVR’s name, design rights and assets.
The company is run by a three-man executive board, with strong financial backing from a tight-knit group of car-minded investors. The firm has only just begun to consider its many options, according to Edgar, but it will probably start by launching a car of its own design, and support that soon after with a second model to straddle a price band of £50k to £80k in today’s money.
Edgar cites “a secondhand Aston” as his new model’s closest rival, because it’s front-engined and British, rather than the more predictable Porsche Cayman and Boxster.
TVR intends to “carry on where Wheeler left off”, building powerful front-engined, rear-drive models that sound great and go hard. The plan is to make them as simple and free of electronic gizmos as possible — these are not Jaguar F-type rivals — and concentrate on performance, driving factors and character. Although new TVRs will continue to be “supercars for the common man”, says Edgar, they will not be made in large numbers.
“The project started with a few of us, all lovers of drivers’ cars, talking about building the modern expression of the traditional British sports car,” Edgar says. “Most of us have business backgrounds. We knew we really needed a decent brand to make the thing fly, but the brand we really wanted wasn’t available.
“TVR’s owner, Nikolai Smolenski, had been approached by many other bidders and always said he wouldn’t sell. Then one of us became aware of a new opportunity to talk to him and we started negotiating. I can’t say he was a pushover to deal with, but he’s become a good supporter of our project.”
Edgar and his partners now own the assets of Blackpool Engineering, which was set up by Smolenski to contain the major assets of TVR — the name, design rights to all models, wiring diagrams, materials lists, correspondence, a collection of jigs and moulds and a large collection of spares for existing models. The new partners plan to sell parts and expertise to existing owners, possibly through one of the UK’s TVR service and spares companies.
However, the partners make no bones about their intention to enforce their solus right to make cars under the TVR name. Several pretenders to the TVR rights around Europe have received uncompromising letters to that effect “from a team of international lawyers”.
Edgar acknowledges that TVR’s new managers face many challenging decisions: where to establish their new factory, how many cars to build, whether or not to build updated versions of much-loved models, and whether to use proprietary engines or (much more expensively) make its own. But Edgar insists that these will all be faced with care.
“None of us has ever built a car,” he says, “but we have a fair bit of business know-how. We’re clear about the kind of car we want to build, and we think we can bring fresh thinking to the whole thing.”
There is no plan to export early cars. Volume will be low, and other marques have proved that the UK is the richest sports car market anyway. But Edgar insists that this is far from being a plaything for millionaires.
"It is a well-thought-out business plan, and at the root is the requirement to make money. We will all have a lot to lose. But we also know it can’t be an overnight success. I’d say it would take a minimum of three years to break even. We’re playing the long game."
Edgar revealed more of his plans for the British brand in an interview with Steve Cropley.