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Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/11/10 10:38 a.m.

So I have started to seriously look at the possibility of getting a TVR. The models I like and fit in are the 2500M and the 280i. I know vastly different cars but not so far off in budget. The 1600 engined cars are also intriguing. Any opinions out there and any guidance? How much pain is involved with TVR ownership? Also comparing them to a TR6 or MGB, is there that much more aggravation involved and if so what is it?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/11/10 1:20 p.m.

The TVRs I've had a chance to look over (never driven one ) have had the worst build quality of any non-kit car I've ever seen. I got a chance to sit in, and examine a Griffith once. What a horrifying deathtrap! I'm sure it would be fun, in the same way that towing a skateboard behind a car doing 80mph would be fun! They are kind of refreshing in a "wow, cars really were unsafe back then" kinda way.

The 280i seems more modern, but I never could warm up to the doorstop styling.

racerdave600
racerdave600 HalfDork
10/11/10 1:32 p.m.

I don't know, I actually like TVRs, especially the 3000M and Grantura models. The 3000Ms I've seen haven't been that shoddy compared to other low volume cars, while the Granturas have been pretty hit or miss.

All the TVRs I've driven have been pretty good, especially the 3000.

oldeskewltoy
oldeskewltoy Reader
10/11/10 7:46 p.m.

I owned a 1969 Vixen S2.... a lifetime ago(about 32 years ago)

It was typical british... not as bad as a kit car... but close enough.

Handling was amazing, especially when you consider the tires of the day.

IF I could squeeze my ass into one, and it wasn't obnoxious in price.... I'd love to do a resto mod - new wiring, new drivetrain(Toyota 4AGE with a 5 speed)

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/11/10 8:29 p.m.

I am leaning to a 1600M or a 2500M, I like the traditional TVR styling and the ease of dealing with engine stuff and on top of it all, I fit comfortably behind the wheel of them.

Any model specific advice? They seem to run anywhere from $5,000 for a fair condition driver to about $12,000 for a super nice show worthy example. I am watching a few on Craigslist but if anyone knows of any affordable ones for sale please let me know.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
10/11/10 11:27 p.m.

They all suffer from the common Blackpool rot, rumour has it that the main method of coating the chassis was to carry a pot of paint past it...

I'd buy on condition of the chassis as it's the single most expensive part to fix.

The with the wedges the 280i is consider a little underpowered, I'd try to find a V8 if I were you. Personally I'd probably go for an M as I much prefer the looks...

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/12/10 9:43 a.m.

Thanks Tim, I do as well. I am on the search now for one.

bravenrace
bravenrace Dork
10/12/10 11:38 a.m.

Hey Andy, I've owned a couple M's. I have one for sale right now, but it needs finished, so I'm not sure it is what you are looking for. The TVR community is pretty close nit. One of us always knows the history of a car that comes up for sale. I'd suggest joining the Yahoo TVR group, as you can have any of your questions answered there. As far as the cars themselves go:

  1. Don't buy one as an investment. I'm sure you know more about this end of it than me, so I may be wrong. But so far the only TVR's to gain much value are Griffiths and Tuscans, and Griffs technically aren't TVR's.
  2. The condition of the tube frame on an M is the most critical thing to look at. Rust can be a factor. If there is any significant rust in any area, it's likely worse than it looks, because the frame tubing is rather thin. The most critical areas are the outriggers and at the points where the body meets the frame. TVR used a burlappy type of material between the body and the frame, I guess for insulation and/or abrasion reasons. It holds water, so these areas are the most prone to rust.
  3. Fuel tank leaks. The fuel tank is made of unobtainium, and it's pretty hard to swap out without removing the rear window, which is also made of unobtainium. If you smell gas in the interior, make sure you find out where it's coming from before you commit to buying the car. Nothing is really a deal breaker, but you should know what you are looking at.
  4. Electrical. These things are typical British cars, with Lucas wiring. I'm sure you have had similar experience with other cars, and these are no different.
  5. There are many parts available for M's, but some are not. Classic Motorworks is THE place for TVR parts that aren't common with other vehicles- Tell Marshall I referred you, please. I'll try to list all the parts I can remember that are not readily available. As I said, the rear window is not available in glass as new. You can buy a plexiglass replacement out of the UK, but they are very expensive for what they are, so make sure the rear window is in good shape. The windshield is available, but is hard to find, so make sure that one is in good shape also. The rear suspension uprights are TVR pieces, as are all the control arms. I don't know if they are available or not, but best to make sure there are no problems with them. Of course body parts are TVR specific. Some are available, but since they are fiberglass, you can usually repair any damage. Pretty much all of the interior, including the sunroof are TVR specific parts. I think carpets are available, but that's about it. Fortunately, the interiors are relatively simple, so the panels are easy to duplicate.
    Make sure the door windows roll up and down correctly, and aren't loose when down, which would indicate that the bottom channels may be rusted out.
    Of course, the drivetrain is all TR-6, so your good there. Rubber bumpers that were used from part of 1974 and on are available, but the steel bumpers used before that are not. I have two sets of steel bumpers in case you need some in the future, but finished bumpers usually go for $1200-1500 a set. Engine cooling is sometimes an issue, so drive any car you are considering until you know it's not getting any hotter. There are fixes, including different radiators and electric fans (some had electric fans and some had a useless engine driven fan and no shroud), but it's something you should look at. The door hinges are aluminum and prone to sagging and wearing out quickly, so take a close look at those. Sorry this is somewhat disjointed, as I just wrote down things as I thought of them. I'll add anything I think of later, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me directly. Wire Wheel often has a selection of TVRs, if you didn't already know that. You can also check the TVRCCNA website for cars for sale, although right now we are in the process of bringin online a new website and I don't think that function is currently working. They pop up on Ebay with some frequency, and Hemmings. Hope this helps. Jim
BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
10/12/10 3:01 p.m.
bravenrace wrote: I've owned a couple M's. I have one for sale right now, but it needs finished, so I'm not sure it is what you are looking for.

Ladida, I can't hear you...

Some more info, please?

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/12/10 3:21 p.m.

What is the car you have for sale now and do you have pictures? Also what does it need?

Also thanks for all of the info.

I heard that glass rear windows can also be sourced from the UK. Is this untrue?

Not buying as an investment but as a cool British car with a cool history that is fun to drive and not a zillion dollars to own.

Andy

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
10/12/10 4:09 p.m.

TVR parts in the UK are a bit of a headache as a lot of the specialists seem to deal more with the newer models, but I'm not that plugged into the TVR scene (even though I'd love one).

That said, this company appears to have stainless steel tanks for M series TVRs and advertises that they've got a lot of parts for older TVRs.

bravenrace
bravenrace Dork
10/13/10 7:00 a.m.
Andy Reid wrote: What is the car you have for sale now and do you have pictures? Also what does it need? Also thanks for all of the info. I heard that glass rear windows can also be sourced from the UK. Is this untrue? Not buying as an investment but as a cool British car with a cool history that is fun to drive and not a zillion dollars to own. Andy

I don't know about the rear glass. Last time I checked, it was only available in plexiglass, and they ran about $600. Dave Gerald TVR in teh UK has a lot of the hard to find TVR parts. Here's a link to my Craigs list ad. Let me know if you have any questions.

http://cleveland.craigslist.org/cto/1989681155.html

bravenrace
bravenrace Dork
10/13/10 8:15 a.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: The TVRs I've had a chance to look over (never driven one ) have had the worst build quality of any non-kit car I've ever seen. I got a chance to sit in, and examine a Griffith once. What a horrifying deathtrap! I'm sure it would be fun, in the same way that towing a skateboard behind a car doing 80mph would be fun! They are kind of refreshing in a "wow, cars really were unsafe back then" kinda way. The 280i seems more modern, but I never could warm up to the doorstop styling.

The key words in your post are "never driven one".

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/13/10 4:02 p.m.

True,

I've heard they are magic from behind the wheel. Looks like I need to expand my horizons!

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/13/10 9:34 p.m.

They are neat Joe, I have now driven a bunch of 2500 M cars and 3 280i cars. I liked both but preferred the 2500 M and the 1600 M I drove. They feel very lotus like, the 280i like a early Esprit and the 1600 and 2500 M cars were unlike any car I can think of. They did not seem kit car like to me though I have been in a few that did, usually cars that were pretty worn out.

bravenrace
bravenrace Dork
10/19/10 6:04 a.m.

Andy, Any luck in your search?

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/21/10 1:38 p.m.

Yes a little, looking at a 2500M this weekend.

wspohn
wspohn Reader
11/8/10 12:49 p.m.

I owned and raced a Grantura Mk 3 for years.

The Granturas were lighter than the later cars and had a nice balance to them, which resulted in a more sporting feel than the 2500M, for instance.

I even ran my prototype 2 litre MGA Twin Cam motor in it (easier access) for awhile during development.

Do NOT buy one looking for all mod cons - they leak air and water but they are delightful to run hard on a winding road on a dry day.

If you ever buy an early one with MGB diff, I think I have a spare alloy diff housing buried in the garage somewhere. I sold my car to a guy in Holland and it now races at Spa, Zandvoort etc.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
11/9/10 2:52 p.m.

Very cool thanks for the feedback. Still leaning 1600/2500M. I fit nicely in them.

Shinsen774
Shinsen774 Reader
11/20/10 7:50 p.m.

Contact Marshall Moore in Roanoke, Virginia. He's the TVR parts seller in the USA and a super nice guy. Marshall knows a little about almost all of the cars in the states.

A neighbor of mine bought a low mileage TVR recently, 280i I think. I should have bought it.

wspohn
wspohn Reader
11/26/10 9:46 a.m.
Andy Reid wrote: Very cool thanks for the feedback. Still leaning 1600/2500M. I fit nicely in them.

The 2500 is a bit staid and heavier than the earlier 4 cylinder cars, but still pretty good.

The early 1600s were, like my Grantura, built with body bonded to the frame tubes. This causes rot. When I got mine, a friend also got one and we both turned them into race cars. He ignored the issue, I cut the body off the frame and welded new tubing in to replace the considerable amount that was rotted inside the fibreglass. I like my approach better!

Later 1600 Vixens have the separate body mounting. All M chassis are separate mounts.

pro4art
pro4art New Reader
1/1/11 8:50 p.m.

Having been a TVR dealer many years ago, worked on quite a few, honestly, the ONLY TVR I would ever consider is the Vixen. TR engines make them nose heavy, IMO. The Vixen with the Ford crossflow, is very balanced, steering is easier, and easy engine mods gets streetable 140HP. or swap in a Pinto 2.0 OHC for 160 HP, modified,steetable. Or go crazy for 195-235HP. Not so streetable. In reply to Andy Reid:

theshopeac
theshopeac New Reader
1/6/11 9:10 p.m.

Late to the party here, but I can add a little. Rear windows for vixen/2500/3000 are around a grand. Easy to install with 2 people. I have 3 280i's in the shop right now. I have never really warmed up to these. They "cheaped them out" IMO, using off the shelf (in England mind you) suspension components. The rear suspension is a modified swing arm, and few if any of the updated cars made it here. Marshall at CMW.com usually has what you need to keep them on the road. They kind of overreached ( for TVR anyway)with power windows, ac and all of that. I would like to find a coupe though. I think they look better... The M series and earlier cars are simple, more like a "real" sports car (Nothing that does not make them go faster...)Over the years I have restored 2 Tuscan V8 cars. They are just off the charts amazing. Brutal, and quick. Did I say brutal?? Good luck with your search/ acquisition.

Jesse in DC

bravenrace
bravenrace SuperDork
1/7/11 6:03 a.m.
pro4art wrote: Having been a TVR dealer many years ago, worked on quite a few, honestly, the ONLY TVR I would ever consider is the Vixen. TR engines make them nose heavy, IMO. The Vixen with the Ford crossflow, is very balanced, steering is easier, and easy engine mods gets streetable 140HP. or swap in a Pinto 2.0 OHC for 160 HP, modified,steetable. Or go crazy for 195-235HP. Not so streetable. In reply to Andy Reid:

The 2500M has perfect 50/50 weight distribution. If that's nose heavy, then I guess it is.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
1/7/11 11:26 a.m.

Well I like this car but hate that i is RHD. Is it a nightmare of expensive proportions to convert it nicely to LHD?

http://www.northshoresportscars.com/used-inventory/19740000000000000

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