TVR rising from the ashes

Words by Raj Hunjan

TVR are back, rising from the ashes. Two years ago a group of around a dozen well-heeled investors formed to buy TVR from Russian oligarch Nikolai Smolenski, the owner of the company when it folded back in 2006. Deposits are being taken from July 7th for their new car, which is set to be released in 2017. Production will start small, initially a few hundred units a year growing to around 1,000-1,500 units a year once fully operational. TVR will have a four car lineup, two distinct designs based on the same platform with a hardtop and convertible offered for both. Naming hasn’t been agreed but they have the full back catalogue of names to reuse. My money is on the name Griffith being used for their launch car.

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The car will be the first production car to adopt the Gordon Murray Design (GMD) iStream process, which dramatically simplifies car construction and reduces the size of the assembly plant infrastructure while offering big benefits in cabin packaging, chassis rigidity and crash protection. Gordan Murray’s involvement is a masterstroke by the owners of TVR, his experience in Formula One and with iconic cars like the McLaren F1 is a real asset to the project.

It is clear that the new team in charge have learnt from old mistakes made by previous TVR backers, they will not be building their own engine, instead they have formed another key partnership for the drivetrain. Cosworth will provide the engines and transmission, which are likely to be based on ~5.0 litre Ford or Chevrolet unit that is heavily reworked to make it unique to TVR. The engine will be mated to a six speed manual gearbox as standard, there is no word on whether they will also adopt automated transmissions yet.

TVR are back-3Quality will be high and production efficient thanks to adopting the GMD construction process. The car will have a tubular base chassis with bonded panels in lightweight materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre. This construction concept was developed for the T25 and T27 city cars, which demonstrated remarkable rigidity in crash tests.

The new TVR will likely follow the tried and tested format that made TVR great; two seats, ultra-compact dimensions with a mid-front mounted, natural aspirated V8. The team have said that aerodynamics will be fullyresolved, utilizing flat floors and a rear diffuser to stabilize the car at speed. The flat floor will be achieved by fitting in side exit exhausts behind the front wheels. This setup also keeps the exhaust system simple, lightweight and loud! The first model will be around 1,100kg with circa 500bhp, so expect 0-60mph in less than four seconds and a top speed in excess of 185mph. All this performance will be available for less than £80,000, TVR will likely aim for closer to £60,000, in keeping with the TVR low cost, high value reputation. Quality of the product is paramount, no longer will it have flaws for customers to live with, they want to produce a car that will not be shown up by a similarly priced Porsche Cayman or Lotus Exige.

A lot of the work is going on behind the scenes, no official designs have been released to date. Pictures shown here are of the last TVR to leave the Blackpool factory, the 2006 Sagaris. The company is currently focussing on building and establishing its UK network of TVR Heritage and TVR Performance partners, many of which will have previously been TVR main dealers.

TVR are back-4The team working on this are highly capable, the new management, GMD and Cosworth investment backers that are keen to do this right. Les Edgar, Chairman of TVR said: “We only wanted to work with the best in the business, and Gordon Murray’s and Cosworth’s track records within motorsport and high performance engineering speak for themselves. GMD and Cosworth are the perfect partners for TVR and together we will deliver a truly exceptional new car. It is a privilege to be part of the revival of a great British marque – one that will succeed through our desire to produce exceptional sports cars.”

The reason for deposits being taken now, so far before the first car is released was actually demand led. After initial ideas were released about the concept in June, TVR have been inundated with enquiries and requests to place orders, despite the lack of details of the car. It was felt that in order to encourage the support from potential buyers, more information should be released and a deposit system set up. John Chasey, Operations Director of TVR, says: “We’ve been totally blown away by the reaction to the new car. Our phone lines and online enquiry system went into meltdown when the news was announced, and we decided that we must begin to bring a structure to the enquiries and build a delivery pipeline well in advance of production. Volumes in year one will be limited as we ramp up production, so this allows us to reward those individuals prepared to make a financial commitment at this early stage.”

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They have gone one step further by incentivising existing TVR Car Club members, offering them exclusive early build slots and half deposits to secure them, £2,500 instead of £5,000. Additionally, for every car club member that commits to purchase the new car, TVR will make a donation to the club. Involving the TVR Car Club so centrally is a masterstroke by TVR in my opinion, having the backing of the brand ambassadors, the people that have put their money where their mouths are through times when TVR didn’t even exist, can only be a positive move. It shows that their loyalty is being rewarded in a way that no other manufacturer has tried before. Les Edgar, Chairman of TVR, says: “We feel it is important to reward those people who have been such enthusiastic ambassadors for the TVR brand. The club is a wonderfully active and a loyal community of people who simply love the cars, so it seems fitting that they should be offered a reduced deposit and a promise of some of the early production units. With initial production in 2017 to be in the low hundreds, the early units are likely to be much coveted.”

So what do I think? The hook-ups and positive feedback, the organised, un-rushed approach is very encouraging. If you are in the market for a new two seater anytime soon my advice would be to lodge an interest and put down the £5,000 deposit. Also with all of this reawakening of the TVR brand, investing in a classic Griffith, Tuscan or Sagaris could be a wise move. As the brand relaunches more people will become aware and reminded about the great TVR, so demand will be reignited for the previous models as well as the new car as it moves closer to being released. Buy a TVR old or new, it will be a good move regardless.