Every time a piece of news crops up about TVR, I can’t help wondering; what the hell happened? Why, where, how and when, exactly, did it all go so wrong for Blackpool’s finest?
And what on earth happened to Nikolai Smolenski, who supposedly paid Peter Wheeler rather too many millions of pounds for a company that was already on the skids.
Last I heard, Mr Smolenski was allegedly of no available fixed address, having scotched somewhat on the wages of various long-term employees. I say allegedly because a) I quite value my knee-caps and wouldn’t be able to drive very well without them and b) I also don’t much fancy the idea of being sued by someone who’s financed by the Russian energy business.
But the thing about TVR is that it is still, despite its numerous troubles over the years, potentially a pretty strong brand. There is still faith in it. I remember “the good old days” with real affection, when the road cars were fast and furious enough – and sufficiently well priced – to make them unique in their marketplace.
For three seasons the Tuscan racing I did for the factory was pretty much at the centre of my life. And now it’s all gone.
What has reignited my intrigue, of course, is the news that TVR’s iconic AJP8 engine has just been relaunched by its original designer, Al Melling. He came up with the engine for TVR in the first place and ended up being quite unhappy about the way it was produced.
According to him, Blackpool didn’t make it anything like as well as they could have done. And now he’s re¬engineerd it to be “how it always should have been.”
Can’t wait to try one in a TVR. And in the meantime I’m about to try to find out exactly what did go wrong, and what has happened to TVR. If anyone wants to chip in with whatever info they may have, feel free to reply to this blog.