SOLD for £13,000
“We were reluctant to let the V8S go back to TVR. It’s dazzlingly quick, astonishingly tractable, terrifically rewarding to drive quickly and it looks just great. And that exhaust note… it’s still echoing along our favourite roads” Performance Car, September 1991
Small scale car producers (if they brewed beer it would be ‘craft’) TVR played the ‘Lotus alternative’ roll throughout the 1960s and ‘70s with a range of pretty, curvaceous fiberglass coupe bodies sitting atop steel tube backbone chassis. Into the early 1980s and TVR caught up with the origami trend for more angular bodies and though still dynamically excellent machines, the uncompromising styling of the Tasmin and its derivatives proved to have a relatively short shelf life. In 1986, long before the focus groups decided retro was the new new (yes Fiat and BMW, TiV were there first), Peter Wheeler’s freshly acquired TVR blew an airline over the old 3000S body moulds, gave them a tweak or two and out popped the ‘S’; curves were well and truly (as Brian Johnson nearly said) Back in Blackpool.
In the ‘wedge’ era, TVR’s engine boffins had decided the joy of six was all very well but after all, more is more and eight would be great. Enter Rover’s ubiquitous V8. With an ethos of plenty of cylinders, power and volume (of both the capacity and decibel variety), they set up a spinoff company to look after TVR power called, quite brilliantly, “TVR Power”. For the V8 S they tweaked the engine up to 3.9 litres with a 10.5:1 compression ratio, popped on gas flowed heads with free breathing manifolds and inserted a high lift cam. The resultant 240 bhp and 270 lb/ft of torque propelled the roadster, via a Rover 5 speed gearbox and a limited slip differential, to 60 in 5 seconds and on to 150 mph while giving it real world 50 to 70 in top gear performance that was superior to an Aston Martin Virage or Ferrari Testarossa. Boom, as they say these days.
The specifics regarding this particular machine are that it has had a large amount of money spent on it in the past to bring it up to its current very good condition and this expenditure is detailed chronologically in a large file which accompanies the car. Bills, invoices, old MOTs and rolling road printouts accompany the original Service/Warranty Handbook which details the first six Factory Approved services taking the car’s mileage to thirty-seven thousand.
Repainted, we understand, in 2006 in ‘Rainbow Fleck’, a superb deep metallic blue which changes shade in differing light conditions, the TVR looks superb. With an impressive ‘depth’ to the paint and a body in very good condition, even on a dull autumnal day the car looks spectacular. The offset bonnet bulge, originally designed to accommodate an Italian market supercharger but retained for its styling impact, adds further brawn and purpose to the S’s not exactly understated shape, as do a pair of generous driving lights up front. A discrete front splitter and subtle rear lip spoiler have been added which is probably not such a bad idea for a 150 mph car whose side profile is decidedly wing-esc.
With virtually no bright-work on the car, that is perhaps one less thing to worry about though what there is is in very good shape and the TVR branded door handles are a nice touch.
Having recently been refurbished, the interior’s cream leather is in very nice condition, with just a small tear in the side of the driver’ seat (see photo gallery) the only significant blemish. This is offset by blue alcantara inserts and carpets of similar hue, piped in cream and all in very good order. A Kenwood CD radio is present but unlikely to have all that much of an impact on the TVR’s V8 soundtrack. The clever, part hard, part soft hood arrangement works very well offering most of the convenience of a traditional fold down roof combined with the civilising effect of a hard top plus the benefits of a targa option.
With much recent expenditure in areas such as the ignition and brake systems plus a new twin fan radiator set up - V8S’ have been known to overheat so this is a sensible precaution - and idle valve fitted, the V8S is mechanically very good and the previous owner enjoyed numerous trips to Le Mans in her without any issues. In the past, MOT testers have noted that the chassis has been Waxoyl treated and the underside looks to be in fine condition with many components such as suspension and steering arms looking virtually new.
On the road at parking speeds the steering is somewhat ‘robust’ but at even a jogging pace (Mo Farah jogging maybe), things lighten up considerably. The TVR is no MX5 but then that is sort of the point… The powerful all disc brake setup was rightly praised when the cars were new and it is still impressive today; reassuring given the car’s performance capabilities. Sporting essentially the mighty Griffith’s suspension hung off a developed S3 chassis (far more sophisticated than the early backbone versions) the V8S rides and grips really well, Gaz fully adjustable dampers and springs no doubt bringing plenty to this particular party. With the V8S possibly the first TVR not to habitually bottom its exhausts on what passes for normal roads in the UK, the sonorous stainless steel system should last indefinitely. The relatively new TVR 16” wheels are in superb, unmarked condition with excellent front and good rear tyres. The shapely steering wheel is perfectly positioned and with a great driving position and comfortable seats, long runs in this generation of TVR are surprisingly undemanding; Berlinetta ticked off six hundred miles in a day a decade (or two) back without any problem.
Please note that in 2005 this TVR V8S was damaged in some way and that given its relatively low value at that time, the owner’s insurance company elected not to repair it, classing it as, “Not economically viable”. It has since duly passed its VIC test allowing it to be returned to the road but please be aware that it has ‘Category C’ status.
The TVR V8S for us bridges the gap between the sledgehammer that was the 1990s Griffith and the velvet glove of the early cars. Its lineage to the 3000S and hence M Series, Vixen and Grantura is clear and yet it has the blistering performance of the road-rockets that have characterised the brand since Peter Wheeler took the helm for the company’s most successful period to date. With the marque right back in the public eye after its relaunch at this year’s Goodwood Revival Meeting with a powerful, front engined, rear wheel drive, two seater sports car (sound familiar?), now might well be the time to buy into the TVR ethos.