In 1949 the first TVR chassis is produced with a rear axle of a Morris Eight and an independent front suspension and an old 1.172 cc Ford 35 hp flathead engine. The body is made of aluminum and painted in the colour British Racing Green. A few years later, in 1954, Wilkinson designed a chassis with his partner Jack Pickard once again. This time a chassis that is intended as a part of a kit, to combine with the engine, gearbox and other components of the Austin A40. This TVR Sports Saloon is produced only twenty times, with each owner combining it with different bodywork and engines. No two Sports Saloons are the same.
The first TVR model that is built, and can be purchased completely is the Grantura. The bodywork of the Grantura is made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and the hinges of the hood are located on the front. The Grantura is handmade with Austin-Healey brakes, a Volkswagen Beetle or of Triumph suspension and a BMC rear axle. The driver is only a few inches above the ground for the ultimate driving experience.
After Wilkinson and co-founder Pritchard left TVR, TVR is entering a turbulent time. Only when Martin Lilley the new major shareholder of TVR in 1965 decides that a higher level of finishing should be achieved TVR changed. TVR introduced the first model in the Toscan series under his leadership, followed by the 1968 Vixen. The principles of how Wilkinson saw TVR still remain the same: a light body on a tubular chassis, a front mounted engine with rear-wheel drive and the continuous motion to keep improving the car’s performance.
“Only a few inches above the ground for the ultimate driving experience”
In the late 1970s, the TVR factory moved from Hoo Hill to Bristol Avenue. This was necessary because the production has risen from five to eight cars a week. To create publicity for the company, nude models pose on the TVR stands at the British International Motor Show in 1970 and 1971 in Earls Court. It fits TVR as it is: a bit rebellious, a bit loose-fitting and meant for car drivers with guts.
In the eighties, Peter Wheeler takes charge of TVR. He reintroduces the Griffith in the 1990s, which is often regarded as one of his best designs. The Chimaera will follow within a year, a car that quickly becomes TVR’s bestseller. The V8 engines from Rover used in the Griffith and Chimaeras are being expanded by Wheeler to 4.0, 4.3, 4.5 and even 5.0-liter engines for phenomenal performance.
But Wheeler wants more for TVR. He is responsible for the introduction of TVR’s first engine: the AJP8. Even today, the sound of this engine ensures that car enthusiasts turn their heads and get goosebumps on their arms. A raw, deep, powerful sound that TVR enthusiasts will recognize out of thousands.
After 22 years of leadership at TVR, Wheeler finally sells TVR to the young Russian Nicolai Smolenski. He is determined to help TVR enter the big car market but seems to have trouble with this. The rumours that he wants to relocate the TVR factory abroad cause TVR’s sales to fall. In such way that TVR seems to go bankrupt. The announced Typhoon for 2007 will never see the light of day because the production of all TVR’s will cease at the end of 2006. TVR seems to be a dead-blooded legend until Les Edgar and a number of investors blow new life into the company.
Initially, TVR focused on setting up a support network for existing cars and owners. But it starts to itch: the original values of Wilkinson combined with nowadays technical knowledge and skills… Would that not be a great car? After years of thoughtful and tireless work, TVR is showing a completely new variant of the Griffith that should go into production from 2019. It is the first TVR since 2007 and was drawn by living legend Gordon Murray. Murray is best known for his work on one of the most iconic sports cars ever: the McLaren F1. When Murray designs a car, you know everything is right. The new Griffith is equipped with a 500 hp V8 engine and weighs just 1.250 kilos. The top speed? 200 miles per hour, or 321 kilometers per hour. It may be clear: TVR is back, or perhaps never left.
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