TVR: The Return of The King


It was created in 1947 by a bloke called Trevor off the back of a Blackpool pram company.

In the 1990’s it became Britain’s biggest sports car manufacturer.

It was shut down in 2006 by a Russian millionaire.

But put away your hankies and let the weeping cease for TVR will rise again like an automotive King Arthur, a reawakened British champion on our green and pleasant roads. Of when, how or where, however we know little as the British buyout team are staying secret squirrel on the details of the planned relaunch.

Not sure who’s the bloke: but the car is just so…

So let’s put the future behind us and take a look at the history of this eccentric and quintessentially British marque.

TreVoR Wilkinson, of aforementioned Blackpool pram fame, sold his first production car to his cousin in 1947 for £325 and went on to produce the beautiful and successful Grantura throughout the 60’s, the S shaped curves of which were to set the look of the TVR coupé for the next two decades.

The Grantura set the tone for all successful TVRs

Indeed it was in moving away from those curves in 1979 and adopting the Lotus Like wedge that brought the brand close to the brink of failure. It was a crisis that ushered in a new cast at the company.

Exit incumbent owner Martin Lilley and enter stage right the millionaire motor enthusiast Peter Wheeler. This laid back Errol Flynn lookalike took the company back to basics and saved it for its second act.

tvr_tasmin_280i_coupe_2Wedges never suited the TVR aesthetic

Wheeler understood the equity in the TVR brand and set about a program of restoring it. Out with the wedge and back in with curves. He also instigated a new racing series to restore the TVR 1960’s track ethos.

The TVR Tuscan Challenge Series, launched in 1989, was a piece of marketing genius. 32 Tuscans were sold to individuals and dealers to enable them to set up racing teams.

At the time there were only two other single manufacturer championships (Caterham and Rover) and the series, covered on Sky, soon found a cult following across Europe. This enthusiasm did much to promote the best selling Griffith and Chimaera production models launched in this period.

The griffith arrived just in time for the halcyon days...
The griffith arrived just in time for the halcyon days…

The Griffith arrived just in time for the Halcyon…

Wheeler himself, while admitting that these two big hitters technical accomplishments were based on race testing, was more circumspect about the track’s sales affect. The two cars he says: “…entirely by accident were launched at the right time…”

Whether by fate or design these two cars helped make TVR the 3rd largest specialist sports car manufacturer in the world at the time, producing a diverse range of cars in what was to be the company’s Halcyon days.

However by 2006 orders had dried up and production slowed to the point where the company was put into receivership by the new owner, Nicholai Smolensky. Various branches were sold off but the young Russian was canny enough to retain all the rights to design and production of TVR cars.

Late last year those rights were handed back to a consortium of mainly British invenstors, for an undisclosed sum.

We await the return of the king.


One Response to “TVR: The Return of The King”

  1. paul berman

    Hope TVR will be back! I’d advise against building their own engine – expensive, potential relaiability and servicing problems. I’d suggest using a small-block Chevy – light, powerful, clean and very much in the tradition of the Rover V8 TVRs. Go for at least 400bhp/tonne to get 0-100 in under ten seconds. I’d probably not bother with electronic stability aids, but I’d consider anti-lock brakes. That’s what I’d do! Paul Berman (GD Cobra owner and former technical editor of the Encyclopedia of Supercars).