TVR’s decision to base its new manufacturing plant beside the Circuit of Wales at Ebbw Vale, about 25 miles north of Newport, should prove to be quite a coup, if everything goes according to plan.
The company’s chairman, Les Edgar, known over many years as a lover of very fast, very powerful cars, has consistently said the new generation of TVRs he’s building will need to be developed in a place which has easy access to a race circuit.
He and his partners have lots of experience of existing TVRs and are well aware that the new models will rapidly become track-day favourites and will be expected to be considerably quicker than previous-generation cars were in their day.
The perfect roads for testing
Another major advantage is that TVR’s development engineers will have ready access to the wonderful roads that criss-cross the region, which should further ensure the new TVRs make fine road machines.
Autocar has been testing cars of all types on these roads for more than 20 years and well knows that while the roads are inspiring and scenic, their changeability can also subject any car’s suspension to the severest examination.
They feature both ultra-fast corners and hairpins, and they'll test the new cars' ability to cope with coarse surfaces, high-crown roads, surprise ruts and narrow sections that call for quick-acting, precise steering. If the new TVRs can excel here, they’ll excel anywhere.
History repeating itself
In its 69-year history, TVR has benefited once before from having a factory located near roads that are tailor-made for suspension testing. When based in Blackpool, the company’s engineers did much of their ride development for the early 1980s Tasmin - and a successive generation of 'wedge' models - on those roads, with the result that their tubular backbone chassis and suspension could cope remarkably well with the abrupt rise and fall of the roads there, far better than many more expensive cars.
The advantage didn’t last, though. The market disapproved of the wedge styling, leading the company to lower the cars and fit bigger and bigger tyres, and both moves limited their speed over the Dales.
It took the arrival of a well-heeled new owner, Peter Wheeler, to produce a new generation of Rover V8-powered models with more inspiring body styling and turn sales around. But that backbone chassis, developed in the Dales, continued as the basis of TVR's best-loved cars, with little modification, into the modern era.