Saturday, June 20, 2009

TVR Tuscan V8 - a sixties supercar

TVR has built cars since the fifites, most of them with 4 cylinder engine. It took an American entrepreneur (Jack Griffith) to convince TVR to mate the TVR Grantura with a big American V8 cyclinder. That's what the TVR Griffith was all about. The TVR Tuscan followed on the Griffith, being equipped with a better chassis and more refined suspension.

The TVR Tuscan V8 (1967-1970)

TVR built three series of TVR Tuscans V8 between 1967 and 1970. The three series can be distinguished by their body styles, interiors and engine choices. The first series (200-001 …) had a short wheel base (SWB) body. These cars were quite similar to the Griffith 400 they replaced. The second series (LWB001 …) were built on a long wheel base (LWB) chassis and had a modified interior. The third and last series (MAL001 …, MAL stands for Martin Lilley) was the most diversified batch. Most of the 22 (or 21?) cars were carrying a Vixen S2 style body, current research indicates that MAL15 most probably was the last car with this body style, while later cars were built with a wide and more modern body similar to the later M cars. The interior of the early MAL cars were similar to the LWB cars, Laster MAL series car though already show an interior similar to the Vixen S2/S3. With MAL007 or 008 the transition from bonded to bolted bodies was done.

Given TVR only built 58 of these Tuscans V8 overall during four years (book author Robson though claimed 73, investigations by Colin Lyons in 1991 (letter in Sprint June 1991) indicate a lower number though) it can be assumed that they assembled the pieces they had on stock at the time the car was built. The TVR Tuscan V8 all had Ford 289 V8 engines with various power outputs. While early cars had the lower powered 195 bhp version, SE (special equipment cars) had a higher tuned 271 bhp version. It seems that the MAL series only used the stronger engine options, some literature also indicates that the 302 BOSS engine was used for few cars, but this is not proven. Of all the MAL-cars roughly ten are known to have survived Most of these cars are left hand driven, it’s assumed that only 2 MAL-RHD cars were built over all.

The TVR Tuscan V8 is still relatively lightweight despite the heavy V8 mounted. 950 kg or so enable the car to run from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds. While this may not soudn impressive today, it was in the sixties. When the journal Motor tested an early Tuscan V8 it outperformed the Lamborghini Miura in the 0-60 miles sprint. No wonder that many of the Tuscans were used in speed trials and quarter mile races (including the car pictured here). There's also plenty of torque. The handling is better than what you would expect, especially on good surfaces. Of course you feel the weight on the front axle and the car is less nimble to drive compared to a MK3 Grantura. But the sound of the engine and the overall driveability compensate for this.
Maintenance of the car is straight forward and you are able to find most parts for the engine and the drivetrain. Many bits and pieces of the interior, suspensions, etc. were shared with British mass production vehicles. So desite being rare and exclusive the car is not a prima donna. And if maintained well they should last for ever.

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