TVR Plans To Relaunch With Four New Sports Cars by 2025
It’s time to get excited about TVR again. The legendary builder of British sports cars with a mean-streak announced it would be re-entering the market with a brand new car in 2017. But it gets even better. The new car is being developed in collaboration with lead McLaren F1 designer and former Formula 1 engineer Gordon Murray, and engines will come in the form of an atmospheric V-8 from Cosworth. After that, TVR plans to add three additional models by 2025.
The new car, which has already seen a year of development, will be what a TVR should be. That means a two-seater with a big engine up front, driving the rear wheels through a manual transmission. We’ll get an official first look at the car later in 2015, but TVR says it will feature composite ground-effect aerodynamics and a chassis built using Murray’s iStream car production technology. Pricing will be consistent with the company’s previous offerings, which would probably make the Jaguar F-Type its most obvious rival in the current market.
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The new car will be built at a new facility in England, though it’s not exactly clear where. The former factory in the company’s ancestral home of Blackpool, England has since been converted into a gym, but the new ownership is keen to maintain the company’s British identity.
“We know that a new TVR has to be better than just good – it has to be outstanding,” says TVR chairman Les Edgar. “From the outset we only wanted to work with the best partners in the business, and both Gordon Murray’s and Cosworth’s track records within motorsport and high performance car design and engineering speak for themselves.”
Gordon Murray’s iStream Technology
“TVR is an iconic brand which has been an important part of British sports-car manufacturing for many decades,” says Gordon Murray. “Its return to manufacturing is an exciting development and the car deserves the best chassis and powertrain that can possibly be delivered. To that end, I am delighted that our company is involved with the project, and that TVR are using our iStream technology.”
Murray also estimates that tooling for an iStream assembly plant represents an 80 percent savings over a traditional plant.
So, what exactly is iStream? In short, it’s an automotive manufacturing process created by Murray that promises to minimize cost, energy consumption and vehicle weight, while reducing greenhouse emissions by 40 percent over the course of a car’s dust-to-dust lifecycle. Murray also estimates that tooling for an iStream assembly plant represents an 80 percent savings over a traditional plant. TVR will be the first to implement iStream since the vaporware Yamaha MOTIV.e city car.
The unusual chassis will consist of thin-walled, laser-cut steel tubes, which are then welded together. The entire assembly, called iFrame, provides hard points for the body panels and mounting points for drivetrain, suspension, interior other necessary components.
The body panels, or iPanels, consist of “thin external skins of low-cost woven, unidirectional, random matt glass fibers or natural fibers.” We have no idea what that last part means, but Murray, who has a pretty decent track record with this stuff, promises unparalleled strength and stiffness.
“We are proud to see Cosworth’s industry-leading engineering at the heart of the revived TVR brand,” says Cosworth technical director Bruce Wood. “Our team has been working closely with TVR and Gordon Murray Design to develop a powertrain solution that perfectly complements the exceptional performance characteristics of the new car.”
The new TVR engine will be a normally aspirated V-8 with dry-sump lubrication, but that’s about all we know for sure. However, given Cosworth’s long-time relationship with Ford, there’s a good chance the new engine will be built using Ford’s Coyote 5.0-liter V-8 architecture — an engine that’s not only easily tunable, but also readily available at a low cost. We would expect around 500 horsepower in early applications and over 600 horsepower for faster, more expensive models.
After making his fortune in the videogame industry, Edgar acquired TVR from Russian billionaire Nikolay Smolensky in 2013. “Despite very deliberately maintaining a low profile since completing the acquisition of TVR two years ago,” Edgar says, “we have had an enormous amount of unsolicited interest from businesses, individuals and investors internationally.” But, it hasn’t been easy bringing TVR back from the dead.
The Wheeler era was TVR’s most successful period to date.
TVR’s roots reach back to 1947. The name is actually a shortened version of founder Trevor Wilkinson’s first name, but things didn’t really get going until the company was purchased by former chemical engineer Peter Wheeler in the 1980s. The Wheeler era was TVR’s most successful period to date.
Under his stewardship, several new models where introduced, including the Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera, Tuscan and Sagaris, among others. The company even developed its own V-8 and later, inline-six engines — a huge undertaking for a company of its size.
Smolensky bought TVR from Peter Wheeler in 2004 when he was just 24 years old, but as demand dried up, thing started going south. The last TVR was built in 2006. After failing to restart production, Smolensky sold the company a few years later, but bought it back after its new owners drove it into bankruptcy.
After another failed attempt to restart production, he finally gave up on the whole idea and sold the company to Edgar. Many blame TVR’s downfall on Smolensky, but it’s just as likely that Wheeler knew he overextended the company and cashed out while he still could.
Why it matters
Despite its tumultuous past, TVR seems to be in good hands now. People scoffed when news surfaced that a videogame maker had bought TVR, but as someone who worked in the videogame industry for a several years, I saw this as a good thing. Like designing and manufacturing a new car, making a successful videogame requires exceptional project management skills and the right people. With Murray and Cosworth, Edgar has certainly surrounded himself with the right people.
We’ve missed TVR. Let’s hope this new team can bring it back.
You can check out TVR’s last official model here.