The first new TVR sports car for 10 years – designed by Gordon Murray and powered by Cosworth – will be built in a new facility in South Wales, it’s been announced. It’s great news for Wales – Aston Martin has also chosen the country to build its new DB-X crossover – and for sports car fans the world over.
The Welsh government is investing in the comeback of the firm, moribund since bankruptcy under its former owner in 2006. Together with the new management, led by chairman Les Edgar, the assembly plant will be getting £30m of joint investment over the next five years in order to bring the new car to the showrooms.
The deal between TVR and the Welsh government was signed on 18 March between Edgar and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, who said: ‘I am delighted the next generation of TVRs will proudly bear the label Made in Wales.’ The plant will be located in the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone. It is not known if Blackpool, with which TVR is inextricably linked, was in the running.
Les Edgar told GRR: ‘We have a sports car project that has garnered global approval and excitement, and we are delighted that the Welsh government wish to become a part of an exciting new era for TVR.’
The first cars are due in 2017 with TVR saying the 350 deposits for the all-carbon launch edition model already received will keep the plant busy through to the end of 2018.
What will the new car look like? The picture of it shown here was originally a speculative drawing by a magazine but has now been issued by TVR, so we assume it’s accurate. Its shows a two-door coupe (they are bound to do a convertible as well) with traditional TVR front engine/rear drive proportions and stance, along with a pleasing modern take on familiar TVR design cues. In short GRR reckons it looks blooming marvellous: old and new at the same time and definitely powerful.
What we can’t see are what TVR is calling ‘F1-inspired ground effects technology’. Gordon was at the Members’ Meeting over the weekend (and in his new acquisition, a Lotus 11 road car) so maybe he was reacquainting himself with the undersides of his Brabham BT49!)
Under the bonnet of the new sports car is a normally-aspirated V8 ‘tuned and enhanced’ by Cosworth and designed and constructed around Gordon Murray’s game-changing F1-inspired honeycomb iStream build process. The first new TVRs (see more on them here) will mark the debut of the more premium (and even stiffer and stronger) iStream Carbon system that Murray first demonstrated in the Yamaha ‘mini McLaren F1’ concept sports car at the Tokyo Show in 2016.
On the new TVR’s performance, Les Edgar has said: ‘A Sagaris wouldn’t see which way it went.’ With Murray’s insistence on light weight the new TVR is believed to be targeting a power/weight ratio of around 400bhp per tonne.
GRR caught up with Gordon for this update:
How excited should we be about TVR’s return?
‘Very excited. It’s a great British story, a great sports car story, and the antidote to ever bigger and heavier supercars. The icing on the cake is that it’s powered by a normally-aspirated Cosworth engine and will be made here in Britain.’
The latest news from TVR is that the first models will be carbon…
‘iStream Carbon is our latest manufacturing process which uses carbon, rather than glass skins for the honeycomb structure. It will be immensely stiff and several hundred kilograms lighter than cars in its segment – I am targeting 1200kg. With the Cosworth engine’s instant throttle response and lovely noise – all the things you miss in a turbo motor – the car will give a fantastic bang for your buck.’
Gordon Murray and TVR… different ends of the spectrum?
‘I don’t think so. I like the back to basics muscle car approach. All that was wrong with them before was that they never really were designed, engineered or developed.’
So, always a closet TVR fan?
‘If TVRs at the time had been nicely engineered, had decent ergonomics and were developed so they didn’t fall to pieces I could have been a TVR buyer. They didn’t make a big car ever, all were narrow and perfect for British roads. Taking that concept into a nicely engineered and fully developed motor car…well, it’s an exciting prospect.’
What was your favourite old model?
‘I always liked the Griffith. I loved the looks but not the handling. Creighton Brown (Gordon’s colleague at McLaren Cars when they were building the F1 – ed) had one and we tried for three years to make it handle before we gave up.’
The new car will be rather different there we assume. Will you have one?
‘I definitely will. And I will join the TVR club. I love the whole TVR story.’
I know you can’t speak for TVR, but where are you up to with the project right now?
‘We have completed the first concept phase and are now into the design analysis and prototyping, We are well on the way. The new team is very enthusiastic and a good bunch of guys to work with.’
So, everything to play for?
‘TVR is a fantastic brand and with a massive following, even after all the bad products and failures.’