27 November, 2017

Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer Spotlight - TVR

The next manufacturer in our series is TVR whose designs have made them one of the most striking manufacturers in our series with classic models such as the Tuscan, Griffith and more.


TVR's origins can be traced back to 1946 where a 23-year old Trevor Wilkinson founded a car repair business called Trevcar Motors. This company would later evolve into TVR Engineering in 1947. In 1949, they created their first car which was the TVR one. However, this car was short-lived as their only of its kind was crashed beyond repair.

You either get TVR or you don't. But the heady blend of style, performance and relative cheapness is undeniably appealing.

TVR's Famous Models

  • TVR Sports Saloon - heavily inspired by the Austin A40. The Sports Saloon was created in kit-form and each iteration of the model consisted of a different style and engine.
  • Jomar - utilising their spaceframe chassis which resulted in a lower seating position and became a staple of TVR design.
  • TVR Cerbera - hailed as one of their best designs.
  • Chimaera - became a best seller through the 90's into the early 00's.

TVR has been plagued by Financial difficulties which have resulted in them being under the stewardship of different owners.

TVR Difficulties

TVR started experiencing financial difficulties in the early 60's and in 1962, Wilkinson sold his controlling stake to Keith Aitchison and Bryan Hopton who were able to return the company to profitability and renamed the company to Grantura Engineering. However, they soon started experiencing financial difficulties and were rescued by Arthur and Martin Lilley in 1965, who reverted the company back to being called TVR Engineering.  

Lilley Era

The Lilley Era was one of the most successful for TVR as the TVR Vixen and V8 Tuscan were added to the range alongside the Griffith which was being phased out. The Griffith was enabling TVR to re-establish themselves in Motor racing as it was driven by the renowned Gerry Marshall who was helping TVR reassert themselves as a formidable brand again.

Wheeler Era

TVR had moved to a bigger facility to accommodate their increase production plans. Faced with fluctuating financial performances in addition, to a UK recession and spiralling export costs to the USA, TVR was sold to Peter Wheeler who ushered in a new Era for the brand.

His first move was to launch the M-Series which was comprised of 4 models. This era had also marked a departure from TVR's philosophy. The TVR Tasmin was a wedge-like shaped vehicle which was popular at the time for other manufacturers and performed well for TVR.

Stylish and eye-catching partnered with brute power - review of the TVR Tasmin

Back to Basics

However, TVR reverted back to their philosophy with the launch of the S-Series which ran from 1986-94. During this time, TVR had re-released favourites which were an updated Tuscan and Griffith. 

Around this time, They also introduced the new TVR Chimaera with the latter becoming a best seller. These models would be produced until the early 2000’s.

Smolenski Era

TVR entered a new era when Smolenski had acquired TVR from wheeler. Smolenski had assimilated himself with the philosophy and created designs fiercer than ever with models such as the Typhon and Segaris. After being dormant for some years and further difficulties, the Smolenski era came to an end.

Edgar Era

TVR was bought by a consortium led by Les Edgar under the umbrella of TVR Automotive Ltd. Les sought to revive the brand and started setting up a support network for drivers called the Heritage Network. The next move was to look towards the future and secured the services of Gordon Murray and Cosworth. They announced the TVR T37 in 2017.

TVR has a history of coming back from difficulties which are synonymous with the UK. Is their story the greatest ever? Next in our series is Vauxhall.

Britain's greatest car manufacturer TVR
Britain's greatest car manufacturer TVR
Britain's greatest car manufacturer TVR
Britain's greatest car manufacturer TVR