Not many manufacturers have had such a turbulent history – ownership wise – as TVR.
From the company’s inauspicious beginnings as far back as 1946, TVR has had several different owners and several near misses too, yet the company continues and remains a renowned provider of eye-catching sports cars. This is probably TVR’s most stable and calm period for a long time.
Nikolay Smolensky, a Russian banker who purchased TVR in 2004, sold the company in 2013 to businessman Les Edgar, fronting a syndicate of British businessmen. Edgar is now the Chairman of TVR, having made his name in the video gaming industry. With the promise to retain the unique identity of the British car manufacturer, the announcement of a TVR Genuine Parts initiative (TVR Parts Ltd) in 2014 was very welcome. Much like the Porsche Classic Partner scheme, the idea is to provide genuine parts for older and classic TVR models, keeping the vehicles on the road and running for longer.
Around this time, TVR rode the wave of rumours that a new model was on the cards. The following year in 2015, TVR did indeed make it official, announcing that a new model Griffith was under development with partners Gordon Murray and Cosworth. Then, the following year it was announced that a new factory would be built in Ebbw Vale right next to the Circuit of Wales creating around 150 new jobs. Though the new TVR momentum has stalled slightly, as the planned sports car launch in 2017 did not happen.
So what exactly happened? Not the fault of TVR apparently, as the tender process regarding the factory is proving to be more drawn out than expected due to stringent EU rules. This delay also negatively affects the new TVR Griffith, as the vehicle will be built at the Welsh factory. The upshot of all this is that the new vehicle will not now be in a position to commence production until the latter part of 2019. The EU rules requires that the tender has to remain open for 7 months right across Europe, so this means that the tender process won’t actually close until January 2019. There is even talk that to get the ball rolling, initial cars might roll off the production line of a different factory somewhere else.
I shouldn’t worry, it’s just protocol – the car will be built and it does look fantastic. Possibly the best-looking sports car TVR has ever produced. Despite the many changes of ownership that TVR has undergone, the cars have managed to still very much keep the DNA of TVR running through their lines though – and this model is no different. For that we must be grateful to Gordon Murray Design, who also managed to get a prototype up and running for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the summer of 2017.
So that’s the past five years or so in a nutshell. Costs of a new Griffith are important; the ‘relaunch’ of TVR needs to remain affordable says Edgar, and to that end the TVR Griffith should be available to purchase for under £100,000.
The design is one thing, but a TVR without some white-knuckle speed is just not a real TVR. The Griffith will feature a tweaked Ford Coyote 5-litre V8 engine – pretty much the same one that sits in the current Ford Mustang. It has been designed to sit as far back as possible, giving a front mid-engined feel to the TVR (see the picture). No actual tech figures are available as yet, but seeing as the Coyote V8 in its Mustang form puts out around 415bhp, then we can surely expect slightly more than that for the lightweight Griffith.
An interesting point to note is that size was especially important for this TVR Griffith; while Gordon Murray wanted to head down the road of a smaller, tighter vehicle (his personal preference), it had to be acknowledged that sports cars are possibly bigger now that they used to be. Edgar wanted to make sure that when TVR comes back, it looks right – and that includes size. So while width is increased slightly compared to recent history TVRs, the car will still sit slightly shorter than a Porsche 911. It’s not just about aesthetics either, as the new TVR Griffith is being planned for TVR’s reintroduction to the 24 Hour Le Mans endurance race too, and a wider car should handle better. The car does not have a rear anti-roll bar either, allowing more grip and feel. It might be taking time, but the new TVR Griffith is on its way.