Sunday, July 19, 2009

The TVR Grantura MKII - short, light and very competitive

After a number of “one offs” TVR introduced the TVR Grantura in 1958. Grantura stands for “grand tourer”. The Granturas were featured in several prominent car magazines such as Autocar, whose favorable reviews created a lot of respect for the marque. In these early years, there really was no such thing as a "standard" TVR. Many engines could be ordered, anything from a Stage 3 Coventry Climax engine to a lowly side-valve Ford. MK I Granturas were praised for their excellent road-holding, although it came at the price of a punishing ride. The cars possessed many of the other key ingredients for a popular sports car: large brakes, 11in Girling drums, wire wheels, and sleek bodywork. Until mid 1960 TVR produced approx. 100 Grantura MK Is.
The MK I was superceded by the lightly modified MK II in 1960. Changes in the engine line were the main differences, the 1588ccm MGA engine now being the top offering, though the Ford or Coventry Climax alternatives were available too. Other changes included slight differences in lighting and fender flares. The car retained its chassis design and the stiff Volkswagen suspension. Continuous improvements led to the so called MK IIA representing again only minor changes to the engine line-up and other details. The largest evolution came from the standard fitment of Girling front disc brakes on all cars. Other performance modifications included an optional lightweight, aluminum cross-flow HRG-Derrington cylinder head. The last MK IIA was built in September of 1962 having been by far the most popular TVR produced to date, with nearly 400 examples produced. The car still retained the same body shell used in the first TVR Coupes produced in 1958.
The TVR Grantura had all the ingredients, making it successful in racing. Drivers such as Mitchell, Escott, Aitchison, Bolton, Rothchild, Woolfe, Haig, Donohue, Slotmaker, etc. competed with the light and small cars in national and international races. Scott-Moncrieff raced with his MK I, called “Coffee Bean” already 1959 at various events. Arnold Burton brought his MK II 1961 to the Tulip Rallye. Granturas competed at Monza, at the Nurburgring, at the Tourist Trophy, in Goodwood, Sebring and Daytona. In 1962 TVR decided to open a racing departments and brought three cars to Sebring and Le Mans. The success wasn’t great though. Even after the works race department was closed, Granturas competed in many races in Europe, USA and Australia. Specifically the improved MK IIIs were thanks to their improved suspensions and the stiffer chassis a great platform for race cars and are active in vintage racing until today.
This specific Grantura Mk II, 7/C/224, is a very early model of the Grantura MK II series. The car was first registered under “513 PRB” in Surrey, UK, in August 1960. According to its chassis number, the car must have had a Coventry Climax engine. At this time, the car apparently has been painted in “maroon”. When exactly the engine was changed to the still installed MG A 1’588 ccm unit (No 8746) is unclear. Also it’s not sure whether the car already received the HRG Derrington cross-flow head in the early 60ies or later. Also unclear is when the color changed from maroon to green, if it ever was maroon. For what is known the car stayed with the first owner in the UK until 1987, when it was brought to Sweden. Apparently the car was restored by the first Swedish owner and for use on the road registered as HKS 633. After changing hands in Sweden the car first came to Denmark and later to Switzerland. It was successfullly raced as an FIA car in both Swedish and Danish race series.
The TVR Grantura combines all the key virtues you would expect from a sportscar: It's light (less than 700 kg), small and well powered (roughly 120+ HP).

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