Currently reading: Used car buying guide: TVR Sagaris
The last TVR was the best: a lairy coupé with the most powerful naturally aspirated six-pot ever

To understand why TVR’s will-they-won’t-they revival strategy is a source of such disquiet for many petrolheads, look back to the Sagaris, which served as the Blackpool sports car firm’s unplanned swansong and left such a pleasing taste in the mouth that any successor really must be delicious.

That revival, you no doubt know, has been anything but a painless process, and the Sagaris remains the newest road-going TVR that you can buy (unless the new company sees fit to sell its sole production prototype of the long-awaited Griffith Mk2…).

So, understandably, it commands strong money in all forms. As a result, you will struggle to find a tatty high-miler and can expect to pay at least £65,000 for a Sagaris with TVR’s fire-breathing Speed Six engine.

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If you can stomach the purchase price, and forget about the brand-new Porsche 718 Cayman GTS you could buy instead, there’s a lot to like here. For starters, just as with the newer Porsche, the Sagaris packs a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre six-shooter (although of the straight variety, rather than flat) and, with up to 406bhp, it remains the most powerful such engine yet fitted to a production car. Second, because the Sagaris weighs little more than a tonne, it will scream from 0-62mph in just 3.8sec and top out at 186mph.

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It’s obscenely quick, then, and belongs to that rare breed of accessible British sports car that prioritises dynamic thrills and raucous performance over, say, refinement or safety. Doing away with heavy metal bodywork and complex electronic driver aids was a big factor in the Sagaris’s bare-bones driver appeal, but you definitely don’t want to have a heavy shunt – which isn’t all that unlikely a prospect, given the unpredictability of its on-the-limit handling.

But enough negativity; the Sagaris is still plenty of fun at seven-tenths, and you can always book a track day to explore the outer reaches of its dynamic capabilities. Indeed, our testers welcomed the various enhancements wrought at the behest of then new TVR owner Nikolai Smolensky (among them stiffer suspension, less excitable steering and a longer-ratioed gearbox), proclaiming the Sagaris “the most accomplished and best TVR to date”.

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If you’re tempted, it’s best to take action now: prices have rocketed in the past few years and look set to continue climbing, given the limited numbers that were produced.

Production ran from 2005 to 2006, and of the 200 or so built, recent data suggests that just half are still on the road in the UK. That said, we found a relatively healthy selection in the classifieds, ranging from a four-owner car with 58,000 miles to a two-owner example with just 13,000.

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Subtle but useful updates were planned for 2007 – we even drove a prototype – but sadly never came to fruition. That prototype was road-registered, however, and was last seen for sale recently at £100,000.

How to get one in your garage

An expert's view

Alex Gray, TVR Car Club: “My ‘Sag’ had been put together for a customer to a very high specification. I was lucky to get it during the period when prices were at rock bottom. The two biggest pains with the Sagaris are that the engine needs looking after and the gearbox is very agricultural. People also tend to upgrade the ECU, because there’s the newer ‘MBE’ unit available. The car is very direct to drive and very responsive, but you need to be respectful when using it, because it has no ABS or traction control.”

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Buyer beware…

â–  Engine: The potential unreliability of TVR’s Speed Six engine is hardly a secret, but by the time the 4.0-litre lump was shoehorned into the Sagaris, its most glaring issues had been ironed out. In any case, many have had a comprehensive rebuild by now – often upgrading to 4.3 litres or, for the ultra-brave, 4.5. If you go down this route, be sure to get a warranty on the work. If the engine is losing oil, pray it’s the sump washer at fault, rather than the front crank seal, and listen for the tell-tale rattle of a knackered mounting.

â–  Gearbox: The original clutch ‘fingers’ often wore out before the pressure plate itself, necessitating replacement even at low mileages. Most will have been replaced now, but check for heaviness. An OEM-spec AP replacement will cost around £800. Difficulty shifting from fourth to fifth could mean the notoriously weak synchro is knackered. Reverse doesn’t even have a synchro, so it’s best to shift down into first before backing up.

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â–  Bodywork: Front and rear splitters are vulnerable to damage and expensive to repair, so feel for scrapes and cracks and take it easy over speed bumps. The chassis can rust, but most cars are dry-stored and don’t go out in rain, so it should be fine as long as you check and protect it regularly.

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â–  Electrics: There’s no ABS, traction control or airbags to worry about here, which means potential gremlins are limited mainly to dodgy connections (check the windows work as specified and the lights don’t flicker over bumps) and the troublesome dashboard ribbon wires coming loose. A misbehaving ECU can yield an incorrect water temperature reading, so do some digging before panicking about the head gasket.

Also worth knowing

Until last December, original and reproduced spare parts were available from OEM-backed TVR Parts Limited. Since its licence expired, the firm, now trading as Racing Green, can’t describe its 250,000 components as genuine, but it uses the same suppliers and remains committed to maintaining and expanding its offering. Try Powers Performance for consumables and uprated components and Str8six in Oxfordshire for sales and servicing.

How much to spend

£65,000-£67,499: Even the cheapest cars look pristine.

£67,500-£69,999: Cars with fewer than 20,000 miles and stacks of service history from reputable specialists.

£70,000-£72,499: Cherished and garaged cars, mostly with common body damage repaired.

£72,500 and above: High-end dealership dwellers fresh from long-term dry storage.

One we found

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TVR Sagaris 4.0, 2005/05-reg, 31k miles, £70,000: You could have a Sagaris in Chameleon Orange or Aztec Gold, but the roar of that straight six and the outlandish bodystyling will mean all eyes are on you anyway, so we’re quite taken by this Spectraflair Silver car. There’s not a blot on its recent MOT history and it has done just 7000 miles since 2014.


Road test rewind: TVR Sagaris 

TVR revival: New CEO details hybrid supercar and motorsport plans

TVR to begin Welsh factory renovations in January 2021

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Brucie16 9 February 2021
Nice to read an unbiased review of a much maligned and missed British sports car manufacturer.
Yes a TVR is a great and if looked after reliable sports car, offering value for money and the Sagaris is one of the best. If this is too expensive look for its close cousin a T350. Only marginly less performance but at half the price.
Mainlysideways 8 February 2021
I found my Tuscan to be surprisingly reliable for a hand made sports car with it's of the day super car performance, even when driven daily for 5 years though summer and winter.

TVRs have a lot of personality, unlike most sports cars these days, hence the year on year price rises for pretty much all models, it's simple supply vs demand.

Speaking of the Tuscan, that interior pic is of a Tuscan not a Sag.

Ezra 8 February 2021
I see they're going for broad appeal here. I've heard of niche, but this is ridiculous.