TVR chairman Les Edgar (left) and Gordon MurrayEnlarge Photo
For fifty years, TVR built quirky sports cars, by hand, in Blackpool, England. Known for their distinctive (and occasionally odd) styling, TVRs were among the most polarizing boutique sports cars ever built. Fans of the marque loved its cars for the unique look and personality each TVR had, while critics panned them for spotty build quality and razor’s edge handling. TVR’s finest hour probably came at the hands of the late Peter Wheeler, who owned the company from 1984 until 2004.
Under Wheeler’s ownership, the brand moved from V-6 engines back into V-8s, and penned such memorable designs as the Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera, Tuscan, Tamora and Sagaris. In 2004, Wheeler sold the company to a young Russian businessman, Nikolai Smolenski. Two years later, a victim of plummeting sales, TVR laid off virtually all of its 300 staff, and shortly after the brand pretty much became dormant.
Since then, there have been numerous attempts to restart the company and resume production, with ownership changing hands on a couple of occasions. Most recently, the British sports car brand was sold to a consortium of investors led by entrepreneur Les Edgar, a previous owner of a TVR Cerbera and a stout believer in the brand.
He and his partners have now announced plans for four new sports cars to be launched over the next ten years, with the first model due to enter production in 2017. While we’ve heard of ambitious TVR production plans in the past, this time around there’s a little more credibility as TVR has confirmed that it’s working on the designs with none other than Gordon Murray, more specifically the McLaren F1 designer’s engineering skunk works Gordon Murray Design. TVR has also signed a deal with former F1 engine supplier Cosworth for new V-8 engines.
“We know that a new TVR has to be better than just good—it has to be outstanding,” TVR chairman Les Edgar said in a statement. “From the outset we only wanted to work with the best partners in the business, and both Gordon Murray’s and Cosworth’s track records within motorsport and high-performance car design and engineering speak for themselves.”
Development of the first new TVR sports car since the Sagaris got underway more than a year ago. The first specifications and images will be revealed later in the year but already we know the car will be a two-seater sports model with a front-mounted, naturally aspirated V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive. The car will also feature a conventional manual transmission and a composite body and chassis developed around Gordon Murray’s new iStream streamlined production process. Production will take place at a new plant located in England, and both coupe and convertible versions are planned.
iStream is essentially a new way of assembling cars that radically lowers costs while improving efficiency. It does this by combining F1-derived lightweight technology, low-energy consumption and flexible small-footprint production sites close to where the bulk of the products will be sold. Ideally suited for smaller cars like city cars and sports models, iStream uses a simple tube frame structure with attached thin-skinned honeycomb panels rather than expensive unibody pressed-steel structures that make current city cars almost as expensive to produce as larger vehicles.
“TVR is an iconic brand which has been an important part of British sports car manufacturing for many decades,” Murray said in a statement. “Its return to manufacturing is an exciting development and the car deserves the best chassis and powertrain that can possibly be delivered—to that end, I am delighted that our company is involved with the project, and that TVR are using our iStream technology.”
TVR says positioning and pricing of its new cars are set to be consistent with the past market positioning of TVR-badged cars. They should also be highly competitive within their respective segments, the company says. We’re just hoping they’ll be offered in the U.S.