Lancashire engine guru Al Melling is launching a 170mph, front-engined two-seat sports car, designed to replace the TVR Griffith, the failed Blackpool car company’s most famous model. Called the Melling Griffon, it is similar in size to the Griffith and is powered by a further-developed, 460bhp 4.7-litre version of Melling’s AJP8, the flat-crank, two-valve V8 he designed in the early 1990s.The new car is designed to be the car the TVR Griffith would now have been, had it remained in production. First buyers will get cars early in 2008 at a price close to £50,000. Initial production rate will be 300-400 units a year.“The Griffith was always the most popular TVR,” said Melling. “It is still highly recognisable on both sides of the Atlantic and it’s a tragedy it was allowed to die. But we’re doing something about that.”Melling, whose business interests were recently rationalised into one NASDAQ-listed group, has pushed the Griffon to the top of his priority list because he believes there is urgent demand for a £50,000 bespoke British roadster. But he is also continuing to work on the 200mph V10-engined Hellcat super-coupé revealed earlier in 2007.Melling and his Rochdale-based company have been closely associated with TVR and its successive managements for years. First they operated parallel businesses in the same county, then Melling designed engines for TVR (notably the AJP8 and Speed Six), plus a still-born six-speed gearbox. Finally Melling became a bidder for TVR, when it hit the buffers in 2006 under the management of Russian-born Nikolai Smolenski.Melling was not successful in buying TVR, but he believes his association with its customers gives him insight into their future requirements, hence the Griffon.The Griffon, which will be built at Melling’s Rochdale HQ, has all-new suspension and a tubular spaceframe/backbone chassis designed to correct what Melling sees as key engineering shortcomings in the original TVR. Itwill make its debut at the Autosport show at the NEC in January 2008.