GRR

This Tuscan R was the last TVR to take on Le Mans

07th September 2017
Ethan Jupp

Les Edgar, the man sworn to lead TVR’s charge back onto our roads, has made no secret of his motorsport ambitions. Take a look at most recent interviews with him and his response to questions to the tune of “what does the future hold for TVR?” goes something like “next stop, Le Mans”.

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So, following the debut of the fantastic all-new Gordon Murray-designed Griffith at this year’s Revival, we thought it prudent to break from GRR feature car convention and dive deeper on a car that isn’t racing at the Meeting.

This car did, however, race at Le Mans and as such will be at the forefront of Edgar’s mind as TVR recalibrates its road-faring sportscar for the enduros. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, the 2000 TVR Tuscan Speed Six 400R, though born for La Sarthe, started local before going continental.

Its story begins four years before it would spin rubber at the 24, when a racing derivative of the then-new Tuscan was born out of the successful Tuscan Challenge series and the monstrous Speed 12 project of the ‘90s. The Tuscan R, though with designs on Le Mans, would begin an all-told successful motorsport journey in British GT. DeWALT chassis #01 (of seven) set about its debut season with gusto with Richard Stanton and Steve Hyde taking a class win at Castle Combe. Beyond the podium, it was winning the hearts of spectators, too, with that staple spectacular TVR soundtrack wowing the crowds. In the 2002 season and under new CTC Wholesalers ownership, John Hartstone (the car’s current owner) and Piers Johnson would perform at Combe again placing third in class.

It wouldn’t be until the next year that #01 would prove its potential to land punches against the big boys when John Hartstone and Graeme Munday would take the second step in a TVR podium lockdown of the 2003 Silverstone 3 hours. As of a total ACO regulation overhaul, Tuscan R #01 would take on the Le Mans 24 Hours for 2004, 2005 and 2006 and become the last TVR to finish at La Sarthe. It’s spent the last eight years of its life as a reminder of what the marque was capable of on display at the Gaydon Motor Museum

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It has to be one of the last small-time sportscar outfits to go toe to toe with the great supercar titans – something that today’s reborn TVR Griffith fully aims to do both on road and on track. With that same ambition, some pit-lane and shop floor discipline and some Gordon Murray developmental wizardry, we reckon they’re in with a shout. We all know what his last road car turned Le Mans-racer managed to achieve...

As of the new car’s debut, Hartstone, who raced the 400R, seemed delighted and hopeful for the future: “This is great news for British car fans! The brand remains iconic for British enthusiasts. It is great to see its return and it would be marvellous to see it back at Le Mans to continue the journey this car (400R) was part of”. 

Baby steps, of course. When customer cars start landing on driveways toward the end of next year the gestation of a reborn race program can take priority and perhaps will emulate the upstart icon that the DeWALT 400R definitely is. This Tuscan is, without doubt, a high-water mark in TVR’s history and as such is essential for a tribute to the marque as it rises from the ashes at Revival's Earls Court Motorshow.

Be sure to keep up with all the Revival action on our Live Blog by clicking here!

Photography by James Lynch

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