TVR. An exclusive brand that’s been synonymous with the world’s most powerful performance cars, both on the track and on the road, for some sixty years. Few marques conjure up the same sense of theatre and passion among their fans and followers, or fear among the uninitiated.
Step inside a carefully hand-crafted TVR and drive it, however, and one knows immediately the real truth: that there is much more to these British-bred beasts than first meets the eye, that they are paradoxical and that the truth goes far deeper than the cars’ antecedent notoriety perhaps implies.
Today, TVR’s prodigious power and performance is married to a new, real-world sophistication. But none of TVR’s character, flair or soulfulness has been compromised in making the cars more pragmatic; in fact, it is precisely because of the latest models’ profound capabilities and luxuriousness that the experience is enriched even more than ever before.
Combined with tantalising designs and an erstwhile driving sensation is a more distinguished refinement, both to the drive set-up and to the finish. The remarkable result is that every journey is an adventure that’s both cognitive and visceral. An adventure that awakens every sense, and even seems to evoke new ones.
After various prototypes experimented including the ES and the Speed 8, at the 1990 Motor Show TVR TVR unveiled the new model.The ’Griffith’ was a name from heir past which they revived for the new modle. The car had instant succes so 350 deposits were taken immediately.
Featuring a 4 litre modified Rover V8 and a body that has become a design classic the car was based in a strenghtened chassis from the ’S’. With a 51/49% weight distribution it had almost perfect balance.The reason was that the engine was sitting to the rear of the front axle. A heat being vented from the radiator was placed flat in the nose so the stlyish bonnet was also practical.
The door handles were sett into a recess behind the door, the number plate was back lighting and the fuel filler cap was placed in the boot, created a very clean unfussed shape. All this creative ideeas and the total lack of bumpers accentuates the curves.
The ’S’ chassis was good enough for up to around 270bhp but Peter Wheeler planned on much more powerful Griffiths and therefore needed an even stronger chassis.The V8S use a strengthened chassisand a V8 engine, whilst the development work continued on the Griffith.
TVR had switched to using the chassis from the Tuscan Racer by 1991.This was a stiffer chassis, shortened by two inches, that could easily cope with the power requirements. A few styling modifications had also been made until then.
Production began in earnest and the first cars were delivered in 1992.In 1992 Griffith totalized 73% of production with a total of 604 cars. It was around 3000GBP cheaper than the 400SE, with a price of 24,802GBp at launching.The car effectively killthe demand for the older Wedge.
Customers could specify the 4.3 V8 for an extra of 2,404GBP.The engine develops 280bhp at 5500rpm and a formidable 305lb ft of torque at only 4000rpm. These were possible by gas-flowing and polishing the heads, reprofiling the camshaft, upping the compression ratio, lightening and balancing the flywheel, and remapping the electronic engine management system and fuel injection output .The majority of customers specified this engine over the four litre.
In the motoring press the car was received much acclaim. At half the price of its foreign rivals the Griffiths was a beautiful British built car, that was to be produced in reasonable numbers and with performance to embarrass most supercars.
The nervousness in rear suspension was almost the only criticism they could make. By changing the tyre size, spring rates and shock valving this problem was fixed later.
In December 1992 the production of UK Griffiths was halted, to allow export orders to be fulfilled.The Chimaera’s production was now in full swing. Nearing readiness the AJP8 was TVR’s own engine destined for the Griffith.
TVR were left with the dealers desperate for Griffiths when AJP slipped behind schedule. In August of 1993 the Griffith 500, a car with truly awesome performance was launched.The car use a five litre catalysed version of the Rover V8 with 340hp. Autocar magazine even accused it of having too much power.
The Griffith received a mild facelift later. with the driving lamps now incorporated into the airintake recess and using Oz wheels the production started in 1993.
The introduction of the Tuscan make Griffiths production to dwindle. The end of production came in 2000 with a ’Griffith 100’ model. These models could be identifiable by their unique rear lights and complete with more aluminium finishing for the interior.These were the last 100 models of the Griffith.
The Griffith was a car ferociously quick and hairy of chest.It embodied all of the innovation, design flair and sheer bloody-mindedness that TVR has come to stand for.
TVRs of the early nineties had a mixed reputation for reliability, but most of owners can attest to miles of trouble-free motoring. But you shouldnt go too far wrong, as long as you choose carefully and budget extra time and money for upkeep.
You will know youre in the cockpit of a car that means business when you will seat behind the grippy little sports steering wheel. A twist of the ignition key brings the big V8 to life. The TVR Griffith isnt really much good as an only car.
The car is a pure automotive sculpture, with gorgeous shape, sweeping lines complemented on later models by a tasty set of OZ seven-spoke alloy wheels.
One of the great attractions of a TVR has always been the way that the finished car can be trimmed exactly to the individual customers taste.So inside, set amongst the walnut and leather, the gearknob and some of the switches are fashioned out of alloy.Apart from this, the choice is yours.
The car can be built just as you want it, so before you take delivery you`ll be offered a mind-boggling array of interior
trim and exterior colour choices.TVR say the chance of two identical cars ever leaving the factory is remote in the extreme.
Rear wheel drive, big power and no anti lock on the brakes demands a disciplined, classical driving style, and also rise the number of accidens.over 70% of total-loss accidents involving TVRs didnt involve any other vehicle.
The Griffith can easily be driven around using the vast torque the V8 engine generates. In this mode, its a relaxed, if loud cruiser. With a rest to sixty time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 167mph, a Griffith 500 will want to party.
Unleashing that power is at first terrifying, then exhilarating and finally ends up being addictive. Its quite easy to drop the Griffith into third gear at 80mph and wonder why the revs are soaring before realising that even with a moderate throttle opening.
Sitting so close to the back axle gives Griffiths a distinctive feel, sooner or later the car will tempt you into some heroic opposite-lockery. The ultra-quick steering is also unforgiving of anything but neat and accurate correction. If you can afford a new set of tyres, Its probably best to explore Griffiths personality on one of the commercially available airfield days where you can learn the cars handling characteristics in relative safety.
Even youll probably need another everyday car, youll get to develop a relationship with your Griff, understanding its foibles, quirks and character.