You may have heard about TVR's recently-announced, Circuit of Wales-based factory where it'll be building its new generation of cars, but there is no need to wait to buy one.
Whether you like charming retro sports cars with Ford power, powerful 1980s wedges packing Rover V8 muscle or cartoon 1990s supercars with thunderclap soundtracks, there's a TVR for you. We look at some of the highlights from the past 30 years, and you could have them on your driveway from just £5k.
TVR Chimaera - 1992-2003
The Griffith commanded respect from even the most hardened sports car owners, but the Chimaera was viewed as a softer, easier prospect for those who wanted the noise and theatre in a more liveable package. That’s not to suggest that the Chim was soft per se. Although longer and bigger than the Griffith, they are very close relatives mechanically and have many of the same foibles. They could even be bought with the same 5.0-litre V8, although the 4.0-litre version is by far the most commonly seen. In price terms, Chimaeras have gone up considerably in the past few years, so are no longer the bargains they once were. Any form of paper trail from a specialist is a more desirable extra than a specific engine or trim option, but expect to pay a premium for 4.5 and 5.0-litre-engined cars. Prices are from below £10,000 for cars with issues, but £12k is a more realistic starting point for a clean 4.0-litre car.
TVR S1/S2/S3 - 1987-1992
The conspicuously retro-looking S models were designed to keep an affordable car in the line-up for enthusiasts who could not stretch to the expensive wedge models or, indeed, simply didn’t like the Buck Rogers styling. The chassis was simpler than that of the Tasmin and only tough Ford V6 power was offered. While the S models lack the white knuckle appeal of the hairier TVRs, sub-seven-second 0-60mph times and 140mph top speed ensured strong sales right up to the end of production in 1992. All S models look essentially similar, but S2 models from 1988 got a 2.9-litre version of the Cologne V6 engine, while s 1990 restyle introduced the S3, which remained until the end in 1992. They are relatively simple to look after mechanically but be wary of pricey GRP bodywork repairs. Values for S models reflect condition, but £5000 gives you a chance of getting something you can drive straight away.
TVR Griffith - 1991-2002
The car that transformed the fortunes of the TVR in the UK was the Griffith. Clever use of GRP masked the kit-car door gaps of earlier models beneath stunning supercar bodywork which offered new-car looks for used supercar cash. There was no shortage of performance, either. Five-litre versions were capable of 4.1sec runs to 60mph, but all versions were capable of sub-five-second sprints and 150mph. The fact they still look great today and that they are well into cherished car territory means minimum money for a healthy Griffith is £15k, but exceptional cars are from £20k-plus. Keep it well and it will never be worth less. And you’ll never get bored of the noise.
TVR Sagaris - 2005-2008
The tail end of TVR’s recent history was littered with sad stories of political struggles, but one of the high points from the era was the cartoonish Sagaris. Underneath, it shared a lot of components with the T350, including the straight six TVR engine, but it was designed with endurance motorsport in mind. Autocar was effusive in its praise, particularly how much more settled it was mid-corner than other TVRs, how much more comfortable and just plain better to drive it was, and all while retaining breathtakingly rapidity. Rarity and desirability keeps prices buoyant so you’ll need a spare £50k to get involved.
TVR Tasmin/280i/350i/390i - 1979-1987
The archetypical 1980s TVR is the Tasmin, with razor-sharp lines rising from the nose, hence them being christened 'wedges'. Launched in 1980, the Tasmin was available in coupé, two-plus-two coupé and soft-top versions, with a choice of 2.0-litre four-pot and 2.8-litre V6. Four-cylinder versions are rare and the V6 models make up the majority of sales. The Tasmin name was dropped in 1984 after the first Rover V8s were introduced, but the angular body remained, albeit renamed depending on what was under the bonnet, so either 280i, 350i or, later on, 390i. The first eight-pots were roughly 50bhp more powerful and only 80kg heavier thanks to the relative light weight of the aluminium V8 compared to Ford's cast-iron V6. In terms of what to buy today, however, condition is far more important. Don't fret about scruffy interiors – they’re standard. The humdrum mechanicals are easy to bolt back together but do be wary of chassis rot and GRP damage, as this can push project cars into untenable territory. Five grand buys something that works, but projects are yours for far less.
TVR 400SE/450SE - 1988-91
The final ‘wedges’ previewed the performance of the curvy next-gen TVRs in a softened version of the Tasmin’s angular bodyshell. In truth, the 4.0-litre version’s 268bhp has more than enough poke for all but the most hairy chested, given the car’s 1150kg kerb weight. It's recognisable by softer lines, a deeper front spoiler and prominent skirts over the other wedges, along with a price tag that heads into five figures.
TVR Cerbera - 1996-2003
The Cerbera was the first car under the stewardship of Peter Wheeler to be built with a roof, but underneath that roof were four seats - something which had not figured in TVR's portfolio before. Most interesting of all though, the Cerbera was the first car not to use Rover or Ford engines. Instead it used engines designed and built by TVR. There were two configurations a 4.0-litre straight-six and a V8 in either 4.2 or 4.5-litre displacements. All versions are very quick and weigh less than 1200kg, so despite the extra seat belts, this is no school-run supercar. In terms of buying, there are more V8s than six-pots around but, as ever, condition is key. You may find them from around the £15k mark but between there and £20k offers plenty of choice.
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