Development Of The Grantura
The origins of the TVR marque stretch
back to the early 1950s, when Trevor Wilkinson set up
the company in the famous UK seaside resort of Blackpool.
The compression of his first name provided the initials
TVR. Wilkinson had first started tinkering with cars
back in 1947, building a light alloy “special”
based on an Alvis Firebird rolling chassis.
The first TVR built on its own chassis came in 1949,
and was powered by a Ford side-valve engine. By 1958
the first series-production TVR “Grantura”
was well under way, it evolving into the Mk III by 1962.
The Grantura featured a multi-tube frame, and a stubby
fiberglass body shell, with a whole variety of proprietary
engines available – and much like the Bolwell’s
in Australia the majority of TVR’s were sold in
Grantura + V8 = Griffith
In 1963 a major milestone was reached with the introduction
of the first TVR Griffith, which was fundamentally a
Grantura with a modified chassis and a big American
V8 under the bonnet.
Performance of these cars was very
much in the AC Cobra league, enough to severely embarrass
of the day. Wilkinson had continued
to run the company up until this time, however a series
of managers then saw the company struggling, and it
was not until the Lilley family - father Arthur and
son Martin - took over in 1965 that final stability
Under the stewardship of the Lilleys, and over the
next few years, the company gradually grew with the
Grantura being replaced by the Vixen in 1967. Like the
Grantura which it replaced, the Vixen featured a multi-tube
backbone chassis frame, all-independent coil spring
suspension and rack and pinion steering.
The engine was an 88bhp Ford Cortina GT
unit of 1599cc,
making the Vixen good for a top speed of 106mph. And
once again TVR opted for a two-seater fixed-head coupe
body made from fiberglass.
The Vixens continued to be
manufactured until 1973, in four different types, all
with the same Ford engine, and similar performance,
though specifications, and detail styling, were improved
Following the vogue for fitting larger engines to sports-cars,
TVR first produced a Ford V8 powered Griffith in 1963
(with 4.7liters and up to 271bhp), which had phenomenal
acceleration, though the quality was poor. Under Martin
Lilley, this car's successor was the Tuscan V8 range
of 1967-70, which in its long-wheelbase form was far
more a drivers car, not to mention it featuring far
better build quality. The 0 to 100 mph sprint was accomplished
in a little under 14 seconds, and to put that into perspective
that was faster than the Cobra of the day!
The Tuscan V6
In 1969, however, TVR introduced the Tuscan V6, which
was a more practical proposition for UK buyers, because
it was fitted with the 2994cc Ford (UK) V6 engine, which
produced 128bhp. In most other respects, the Tuscan
V6 was like the Vixen of the day, but had a top speed
After a further diversion into producing Tuscan-based
cars with the Triumph Spitfire 1300 engine of 63bhp,
and the 2500 model, with a 106bhp 2498cc Triumph six-cylinder
engine (which was commercially more successful), TVR
then turned to making a new 'M' Series of cars from
Although still recognizably descended from the
earlier TVR’s, they had all-new multi-tube frames,
and a sleeker body style. Cars were built with a Ford
1599cc engine (1600M), Triumph 2498cc engine (2500M)
and Ford 2944cc engine (3000M).Strangely, the spare
wheel was carried up front, ahead of the engine, and
the trim was altogether more up-market and luxurious.
The most powerful of all was the Turbo, made available
in 1976, this having a turbocharged V6 Ford unit producing
230hp, and giving the car a top speed of nearly 140mph.
Only 63 Turbos were ever built. Also from the mid 1970s,
came the Taimar, effectively a 3000M with a hatchback
rear body conversion, and (in 1978 and 1979 only) the
Convertible, which was an open two-seater, also based
on M-Series engineering, and the V6 engine.
The Tasmin Hatchback And 2+2
In 1980, TVR launched a completely new range, the “Tasmin”.
These were first offered as two-seater hatchbacks, but
within a year this grew to a 2 + 2, and a convertible
derivative, had also been launched. All cars used the
German V6 Ford fuel injected engine good for 160bhp
and giving the Tasmin a top speed of approximately 130mph.
There was sharp-nosed fiberglass bodywork, and a new
design of multi-tube chassis.
This basic design formed the basis of TVR’s throughout
the 1980’s. Late in 1981 a 2 liter version of
the car was announced, this time utilizing a 1993cc
Ford OHC engine, although there was a one-off 2.8 liter
Turbo shown in 1982, but after ownership changed again,
a Rover-engined 350i (with 3528cc V8 engine) was launched,
and this was later joined by the even more fearsome
390i, in which the Rover engine was enlarged to 3.9
liters and 275bhp.
In 1988 TVR produced a prototype using a Holden V8
engine. The car was built for, and used by, the then
Managing Director of TVR Peter Wheeler, however it would
never make it into production. The car was obviously
very quick - as PW never drove anything slow! The current
owner believes the motor was some type of special Holden
racing engine, if you can help please go to the readers
rides section where you can view the markings.