TVR was a British sports cars manufacturer that produced lightweight cars with powerful engines. Based in Blackpool, Lancashire, TVR was the third-largest specialised car manufacturer in the world and a majority of their cars was fitted with in-house straight-6 cylinder engines or an in-house V8 engine. The TVR sports cars became famous for their aggressive body designs and evil looks.
During the mid 2000s, the owner Smolenski split TVR into four different companies. TVR Motors got the licence to the brands and intellectual property in the UK, and also held license to sales and marketing of the brand. TVR Power got the parts and spares business, while factory and manufacturing assets were held by Blackpool Automotive. Brand and intellectual property rights had been transferred to a fourth company, a core Smolenski company.
TVR in popular culture
The TVR cars are often seen in movies, TV-series and videogames and John Travolta did for instance drive a TVR Tuscan in the movie “Swordfish”, as did Asia Argento (playing the character of Yelena) in “xXx”. In the 2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Bugs Bunny could be seen driving a ‘highly modified’ version of that same car. When it comes to videogames, we can for instance see TVR cars in “The Getaway: Black Monday” the series “Gran Turismo” from Playstation. TVR cars are also driven in Xbox “Project Gotham Racing 2” and “Project Gotham Racing 3”.
The history of TVR is commonly divided into five distinct eras, based on who owned and made the major decisions for the company.
1947–1965: Trevor Wilkinson, the founder who left in 1962
1965–1981: Martin Lilley
1981–2004: Peter Wheeler
2004–2007: Nikolai Smolenski
2007–Present: Adam Burdette and Jean Michel Santacreu
Trevor Wilkinson created TVR in 1947 under the name Trevcar Motors. In 1949, the first TVR car was built, and in 1953 the concept of using glass-reinforced plastic bodywork over chassis with a tubular steel backbone was introduced. The name Trevcar Motors was changed to TVR in 1954, by removing the letters r,e, and o from Trevor, the name of the founder. A lot of the early TVR cars were offered as kit cars to avoid the UK tax on assembled cars. This loophole in the British tax law was open until the 1970s.
During the last years of the 1950s, the TVR cars had 4-cylinder Coventry Climax, BMC or Ford engines and the performance models were equipped with Shorrock superchargers. During the 1960s, American motor dealer Jack Griffith broke new ground when he fitted his TVR Grantura with a 4.7 litre V8 engine from a Cobra. To commemorate this event, TVR later named one of their cars TVR Griffith.
By the end of the 1960s, TVR used a 2994 cc V6 Zodiac engine from Ford in their new TVR Tuscan racer, thereby creating a car that could do 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in 8.3 seconds. The motor produced 128 bhp (95 kW).
Peter Wheeler became owner and leader of TVR in 1981 and this caused TVR to shift from naturally-aspirated and turbocharged V6s back to large V8s. The TVR cars were now fitted with Rover V8 engines and the capacity increased from 3.5 to 4.5 litres.