SPORTS-CAR ICON REVIVED: The Sagaris was the last model to be produced by TVR - now, it seems, TVR is back in business. Image: Supplied
The iconic British sports car brand TVR, which in its revered past brought us classic models such as the Tuscan, Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera, Tamora and Sagaris, is set to arise again.
In a statement the company announced it will return to the market with an all-new “British designed and built” sports car and has developed a product and launch programme that will see it produce at least four new models over the next 10 years.
Much like the mythical three-headed Chimaera and Cerbera, a triumvirate of companies will collaborate in the core design, engineering, development and production of the new car – TVR, Gordon Murray Design and Cosworth.
CLASSIC BRITISH TWO-SEATER
According to Les Edgar, chairman of TVR, more specification details and early images will be made available later in 2015, but the car will continue the tradition of a classic British two-seater sports car.
The trident of companies has developed a car with a composite ground-effect aero chassis and body package using Gordon Murray Design’s innovative iStream technology but in lay-out it will be traditional – harking back to the Trident and TVR’s heydays in the 1980's and 90's.
It will be front-engined with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission and powered by a normally aspirated, dry-sump, V8 engine, developed and engineered by Cosworth.
PRODUCTION IN 2017
Production will begin in 2017 in a new UK factory and the product will be offered to the market at a “competitive price within its segment” – consistent with TVR’s positioning in the past, according to Edgar.
“We know that a new TVR has to be better than just good – it has to be outstanding,” says Edgar. “From the outset we only wanted to work with the best partners in the business. Gordon Murray’s and Cosworth’s track records within motor sport and high performance car design and engineering speak for themselves.
“GMD and Cosworth are the perfect partners for TVR and together we will deliver a truly exceptional new car.”
According to South African-born Murray, designer of the McLaren F1. TVR has been an important part of British sports car manufacturing for many decades. He emphasised: “Its return to manufacturing is an exciting development and the car deserves the best chassis and power train that can possibly be delivered.
"To that end, I'm delighted that our company is involved with the project.”
Bruce Wood, technical director of Cosworth, said the company was proud to see its industry-leading engineering at the heart of the revived TVR brand. “It’s an exciting project, one which well suits Cosworth’s engineering expertise.”
Edgar stated that TVR is now a well-funded, well-supported organisation with an experienced management team. “We're here to stay and we have a fully evolved 10-year plan for product and business development.
“Despite very deliberately maintaining a low profile since completing the acquisition of TVR two years earlier, we've had an enormous amount of unsolicited interest from businesses, individuals and investors internationally.
Such is the strength of the brand and the passion of its followers.”
TVR was founded by Trevor Wilkinson in Blackpool, a coastal holiday resort in north-west England in 1947, the chequered history of TVR can be divided into several eras, most associated with the company's owner at the time.
TVR became Britain’s largest independent sports-car manufacturer and its cars were also distributed in South Africa by Classic Sports Cars in Randburg, Gauteng. The company was in British hands until 2004 when Russian entrepreneur Nikolai Smolenksy bought it from Peter Wheeler for the equivalent of an estimated R207-million.
In 2006 the Bristol Avenue factory was closed, bringing to an end 59 years of TVR design and assembly in Blackpool. Smolensky meanwhile resigned as director of Blackpool Automotive, being replaced by Roger Billinghurst and a 25 year-old Austrian, Angelco Stamenkov.
By the end of that year the company was in administration and since then no cars have been produced while the ownership battles continued. In June 2013 Smolensky sold his entire ownership to TVR Automotive, a UK company led by Les Edgar.
Under Edgar’s leadership TVR is now “roaring back”.
One fervently hopes that, this time, like the mythical Phoenix, it will arise from its Austro-Russian ashes to again become a reckoned player in the independent sports car industry.