GRR

Les Edgar's guide to TVRs

08th September 2017
Bob Murray

Who better to show us around the 70th anniversary TVR display in the Earls Court Motor Show at Revival than the current Mr TVR and architect of the firm’s rebirth with the new Griffith, Les Edgar. 

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Les, after all, is not just another car company boss. First and foremost he is a TVR addict. “It was the noise a TVR made that hooked me first,” he says, which goes some way to explaining the music that thundered out in Earls Court to accompany the Griffith’s unveiling: Come On And Feel The Noise, by Slade.

Les has owned a few TVRs over the years and today has a 3000M and a Sagaris. There are examples of both in the 18-car display in the Earls Court building. The 19th car and undoubted centre of attention is the new Griffith.

Griffith launch well and truly under way, how has Les’s first day at Revival been? “Today has been one of the absolute peaks of my life,” he tells us. “It’s gone way better than I expected and I expected a lot. No new car has been launched at Revival before but it is the perfect place for the resurgence of a 70-year-old British sports car company.”

We asked Les to walk us round the TVR display and share with us the cars that he loves best and which mean the most to the new Griffith. We get lots of insights along the way on hot TVR topics such as a convertible, a 2+2 version, US sales, TVR-built engines and… motor racing. 

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TVR No2, 1949

“This second-ever TVR (no1 was lost) symbolises to me Trevor Wilkinson’s desire to go racing. That’s what he fundamentally wanted to do. We haven’t forgotten that and are set on taking the new Griffith racing – an assault on Le Mans and new one-make Tuscan Challenge. If you’re not racing you’re not a sports car manufacturer in my opinion. GT racing for me is what it is all about.”

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TVR Griffith 400, 1964

“When the Grantura got a V8 engine and became the Griffith in the 1960s it was the saviour of the TVR universe – very light, very powerful, very difficult to drive with its short wheelbase, but a true Cobra beater. A powerful and beautiful car, one you know you were alive when you drove. It was sold in the US (where motor dealer Jack Griffith installed the V8 engines – ed) so will we sell the new Griffith in the US? The new car has been developed to meet all the Federal regulations. It’s been built to be sold in the US, Australia and the Far East.”

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TVR 420, 1988

“I love the wedge era, personified for me by this 420 SEAC with its crazy rear wing. One man did this. There was no committee saying do not do it. There was no one saying why put air vents in the bonnet when you don’t need them? They are there because they look great. The car is outrageous and unapologetic. Pure TVR.”

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TVR Tasmin ‘White Elephant’, 1988

TVR was late arriving to the wedge-shape party compared to the TR7 for example, but they made some cracking cars. This one-off was one of (then-boss) Peter Wheeler’s pet projects. It’s a bit of an odd-looking thing. It was called the White Elephant because eventually Peter just parked it out the back and forgot about it.”

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TVR Griffith, 1992

“In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful British sports cars ever, with a very clean look. It was affordable, with a great big reliable Rover V8, and it’s small – sports car size. British sports cars are meant to be a certain size. Supercars are oversized and overhyped today. The new Griff looks bigger than this 1992 car but it’s not much larger. The ‘90s car was only ever a convertible of course, whereas we have launched the new Griff as a hard-top. Will we make a convertible? Yes. I can promise one relatively soon but it won’t be part of the first 500 launch edition cars. It’s maybe 18 months away.”

TVR T350, 2003

“My all-time favourite TVR is the T350 (a GT based on the Tamora and precursor to the Sagaris ed). It’s a great looking car. It had TVR’s own engine in it of course, from the Speed Six. We are definitely not going to build our own engine again. The AJP8 engine first appeared in the Cerbera which was the only real TVR 2+2. Are we going to make a 2+2 again? That’s definitely on the cards. It would be great to do that. But not with our own engine…”

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TVR Sagaris, 2005

“TVR’s more organic shapes culminated in the Sagaris and you have to admire its uniqueness. It’s like a mad axeman has hacked at it. The body has everything on it you would probably never do. Like sticking that little perspex thing on the back of the car and pretending it’s a spoiler. It’s a bit too bonkers and you’d never sell many, but it is a great TVR statement and I love mine.”

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TVR Griffith, 2018

“I have to include this. On styling, what we have tried to do is combine the beautiful lines of the ‘60s Griff with the more modern lines of the T350, and to add some bonkers to it. You know it’s bonkers because it’s got two great big exhaust pipes sticking out the sides and a massive air diffuser on the back.”

Goodwood Revival’s 70th anniversary TVR display in the Earls Court Motor Show pavilion comprises:

1949 TVR Number Two
1959 TVR Grantura MkI
1963 TVR Grantura MkII
1964 TVR Griffith 400
1965 TVR Trident Fissore prototype
1965 TVR Tina coupe prototype
1969 TVR Tuscan
1978 TVR 300M
1988 TVR Tasmin 'White Elephant'
1988 TVR 420 SEAC
1992 TVR V8S
1992 TVR Griffith 4.2 Big Valve
1996 TVR Speed 12 GTS FIA
1998 TVR Cerbera
2001 TVR Tamora
2002 TVR Typhon
2005 TVR Tuscan Speed Six 400R
2005 TVR Sagaris
2018 TVR Griffith

Photography by James Lynch

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