TVR - A British Muscle Car: The History Of The Marque


The Early Years: 1947 - 1965

TVR was founded in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson and was originally named Trevcar Motors. The company gained its current name in 1954. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed to discover that the name TVR was not an exotic TLA (that's Three Letter Acronymn for the non-computer nerd types amongst you!) but was in fact derived from TreVoR's name. The original cars bore little resemblance to the magnificent beasts available today. However, the concept of a fibreglass body work laid over a tubular steel chassis has been a TVR 'thing' since 1953. The original cars were often sold in kit form to avoid the exhorbitant British taxes.This practice stopped in the early 1970's when that particular tax loophole was closed. Throughout the 1950s, TVRs were powered by a variety of 4-cylinder engines most of which, in common with their rivals in that era, were under two litres, and produced less than 100 bhp. The TVR Jomar and Grantura were the main outputs of this era. One exception to this was a special created by American motor dealer Jack Griffith in the 1960s. He replaced the standard engine in his TVR Grantura with a 4.7 litre V8 (transplanted from an AC Cobra no less!). Some time later the TVR Griffith was named in his honour. Trevor left TVR in 1962 and ownership passed to Martin Lilley in 1965.....

The Lilley Era: 1965 - 1981

Throughout the 1960 and 70ss TVR employed a number of engines; ranging from Triumph 2500's to the 3 Litre Ford V6 Zodiac. The main models produced during the Lilley era were; the original Tuscan S, the Vixen, the M Series, the Taimar, The S Series and the Tasmin.

1981 - 2004: The Wheeler Years

During the 1980's TVR turned away from V6's and began to make use of the Rover V8; this engine was was modified by TVR and was used in several formats from 3.5 to 4.5 Litre. It was not until the 1990's that TVR developed its own engine; the AJP8. This was a lightwieght alloy engine developed by Al Melling, John Ravenscroft and Peters Wheeler (hence AJP!). The new engine was first used in anger in the Cerebra and Tuscan S race versions. Wheeler managed the development of a straight six derivative of the AJP8 known as the Speed . It is this engine that powers the modern TVR range. It was during the Wheeler period that most of th TVR models we know and love were developed. These incllude; the SX, SE, S1 - S4, Griffith, Chimaera, Cerbera, Tamora, T350, Tuscan and Typhon.

2004 - Present: The Smolenski Reign and Beyond

In 2004 Nikolay Smolenski (then only 24!) bought the ailing TVR Group. Despite promises that TVR would remain a British company, by the end of 2006 the company was in serious financial trouble; around 300 TVR employees had been laid off and Smolenski announced plans to move production to Italy. TVR was subsequently split into a number of companies; TVR Motors - which owned the brand and TVR Power ( a management buy-out) covering the parts and spares business. Following a turbulent 2007, during which the exact ownership and future of TVR was uncertain, in October 2007 Smolenski announced that he is planning to restart TVR production in 2008. During his reign todate the only significant development has been the introduction of the admittedly awesome Sagaris. Unfortunately, Smolenski has recently said he has no intention of building cars anymore. Meaning, the remaining cars are now becoming more and more rare.

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