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A sad day: TVR is officially no more

  1. Loveable shambles of a car company, TVR is officially dead. Yes, we know; it’s been missing for years, but a statement by its teenage Russian Billionaire ‘owner’ Nikolay Smolensky (32) yesterday confirmed the worst. Death certificate issued. If the TVR name is going to appear again it won’t be on ludicrously over-engined/under-engineered hot rods, but on portable wind turbines.

    Insert your own joke here.

  2. Wheeler was the chain-smoking, retro-‘tached Lancashire chemicals tycoon that bought TVR in the 1980s and shaped the cars we remember best. Wheeler, who died in 2009, had an eye for design and under his direction TVR’s became ever more impressive and iconoclastic. Typically Wheeler took little or no credit, memorably assigning authorship of the indicator nacelles on the Chimaera to his dog Ned, who he claimed bit a chunk of out the clay model.

    The cars were old-school, just how Wheeler wanted them. Built out of welded tube and clad in glass fibre they were assembled in a series of old sheds in Blackpool. Think of it as ‘iStream’ without a purpose. There was little inventory, financial or quality control, but the low-tech, hand-built approach allowed the design and engineering team’s imaginations to run haywire. Think of them as prototype Paganis.

  3. The Cerbera, the little Tamora, Tuscan, Typhon and Sagaris had lush-but-perplexing interiors and electronics to match the over-ambition of their AJP engines. But they were fast and loud and lairy. They looked unfinished and often were and there was always another model in the pipeline which you never knew would appear or not. And if it did, whether it bore any relation to the concept that has previewed it.

    The 1997 Speed 12 was the height of the company’s ambition. Its 7.7-litre AJP12 was said to produce near 1000bhp (this a long time before Bugatti remember) and, at 1100kg it was meant to rival the McLaren F1 for pace. It never made it as a production car. Wheeler, a more than handy racer himself, decided it was just too much. Although a number of race cars were built only one road car ever made it. It is said to be ‘terrifying.’

  4. Call it hubris or ill-health, but the Speed 12 also spelled the end of Wheeler’s ride at TVR and he sold the company, its debts and not inconsiderable warranty bills to Smolensky in 2004 who continued to talk the company up, but unlike Wheeler never delivered.

    TVRs, whether from the later part of Wheeler’s era, or his predecessors Martin Lilley and Wilkinson himself are rapidly taking on classic status. You won’t pick up a Sagaris for less than £40,000. Ownership equals a lifetime of pain, but for visceral, noisy, trouser-troubling thrills there’s nothing quite like a TVR nor, it now seems, will there ever be. Gosh, funny how you don’t miss something until it’s well and truly gone.

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