UPDATE: one-off TVR Cerbera Speed 12 sold at auction for record-breaking price of £601,500
The only Speed 12 road car TVR ever built - the scariest car ever made - sets a new auction record for TVRs
UPDATE 22 May 2023: Silverstone Auctions has reported this one-off Speed 12 sold on 20 May for £601,500, setting a new auction record for TVRs in the process. Yikes.
This is a terrifying machine.
Oh, if you’re less than 25 years old, we’ll help you out here. This is the TVR Cerbera Speed 12. And it’s a car so terrifying that, after a test drive of one of the prototypes, the boss of TVR decided against putting it into production.
And when that boss was Peter Wheeler, who thought airbags were more trouble than they were worth and that ABS was just a crutch for poorly set up cars, you likely have some idea of what it takes to terrify him.
In fact, we’d argue that Wheeler’s the man who made TVR a byword for terrifying. After he took the reins of TVR, he ditched the Cologne V6s in favour of Rover V8s. Which he then pushed out, bored out and maxed out. But after nearly tripling the Rover V8’s power, Wheeler ditched it entirely in favour of a V8 and straight-six of TVR’s own design. As you do.
TVR’s tilt at top-tier racing, however, would require even more madness.
But then it would, considering it was shaping up to be Blackpool’s merchants of oversteer up against the industrial might of Mercedes, the racing pedigree of Porsche and the bona fide genius of Gordon Murray. Yep, TVR’s planned racer would be up against the Merc CLK GTR, Porsche GT1 and McLaren F1 Longtail.
Surmounting such a daunting challenge was approached in... let’s say typical TVR fashion. The 7.7-litre V12 (which was, at its most basic, two of TVR’s AJP-6 straight sixes combined) apparently snapped the input shaft of TVR’s 1,000bhp-rated dyno. A top speed in excess of the McLaren F1 was mooted. And, yes, Peter Wheeler, who raced 500bhp-per-tonne TVRs in the one-make Tuscan Challenge, was so spooked by the end result that he deemed the road-going Speed 12 entirely too bonkers and pulled the pin on the road-going car. Yes, too bonkers for TVR. Imagine how mad.
Or, if you’re a lucky, cashed-up sort of individual, don’t worry about the guesswork. Because the only TVR Cerbera Speed 12 ever built by TVR for road use is up for sale through Silverstone Auctions, and will go under the hammer at Supercar Fest in Northamptonshire on May 20th.
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See, TVR did end up building just one Speed 12 road car – an amalgam of road car, prototype chassis, and racing parts – and sold it to a buyer personally vetted by Wheeler himself. And it was every bit the madman that everyone expected it to be. The sheer weight of what was onboard the Speed 12– namely, that 7.7-litre V12, with around 850bhp and 900lb ft – was belied only by the eventual kerb weight: around 1,000kg.
The result? Well, a contemporary road test probably summed it up best: terrifying.