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TVR History

Grifith 500 front view

The TVR story effectively began in1947 when a young engineer, Trevor Wilkinson, built himself a light alloy special based on an Alvis Firebird rolling chassis. The first TVR with its own chassis was built in 1949 with Ford side-valve power. 

By 1956, TVRs were being sold in the U.S. and in 1958 production of the Grantura was well and truly under way. By the standards of the day, Granturas were fast, agile and good looking. Indeed something of a TVR formula was emerging: strong tubular steel chassis covered in good looking bodywork and propelled by a strong engine to give impressive performance at a very reasonable price. 

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 the Jaguars and Ferraris of the day. 

In 1966 management of TVR was stabilised in the hands of the Lilleys and over the next few years the company gradually grew with the Grantura being replaced by the Vixen and the Griffith by the Tuscan V8. In 1970 TVR moved to its current factory in Bristol Avenue from where it has never moved, although the premises have been expanded enormously over the last 20 years.

In 1972, the M series was introduced which was to serve TVR extremely well through the '70s. As the years progressed the M was sold in fixed head coupe, hatchback, convertible and turbocharged forms, the last accelerating quicker than the Porsche 911 turbo. 

In 1980, the Tasmin was introduced with a new chassis, new body and a new engine. Power came from the Ford 2.8 unit and there were Coupe,Convertible and 2+2 models. In 1982 TVR's current owner and chairman, Peter Wheeler, took over and in the following year the first of the Rover V8 engined TVR's was introduced: the 350i. Over the years, the cars got faster and more sophisticated, culminating in the mighty 450 SEAC of 1988 which produced 324 bhp from a TVR modified 4500cc V8 engine. 

A new chapter in TVR's history was introduced with the birth of the S which went into production in 1987. Although it looked superficially like the M Series, it was an all-new car and with its stunningly low price, it transformed TVR's fortunes and saw production almost double in a year. 

griffith 500 - off road

However, it was the Griffith that was really responsible for TVR's renaissance. The first cars were delivered to customers at the beginning of 1992 and the car was overwhelmingly successful. An order was taken on average every eight minutes at its first Motor Show and, with the introduction of the Griffith 500 in 1993, it has reached the first rank of the instant classics. 

The TVR Chimaera and Cerbera have been introduced since then (see above) and have contributed to TVR's position as the most popular, and prolific, of Britain's independent car manufacturers. 

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