you are an out and out sports car buff, or have spent some
time in England recently, you probably wonít know what a TVR
But think of the seaside and carnival rides of Blackpool on a
sunny day, and youíll be getting warmer.
The amazing thing about TVR is that it has been building
sports car since 1949. And unlike countless other small
manufacturers it has survived booms and recessions to the
point where today production numbers well over one thousand
The name derives from the companyís founder Trevor
Wilkinson, TVR being an abbreviation of ďTrevorĒ. Since
the 1960s TVR has produced some of the fastest sports cars in
But owing to their very basic construction they have often
been overlooked by purists Ė except those who have sampled
the delights of ultra low mass and ultra high horsepower.
The Tuscan and T350 we sampled were supplied to us by Classic
Sports Cars of Randburg, which is the distributor of TVR in
South Africa. And thanks to the carsí outlandish styling and
riveting performance, itís likely that TVR will become an
established name here in South Africa.
The evil-eyed Tuscan is currently TVRís best-selling model.
It is available in two forms, the 3,6-litre and the
This is the 3,6-litre model but it is still one of the fastest
sports cars in the world with a 0-100 km/h time of 4,3
seconds, a 0 - 160 of 9,6 and a top speed of 288 km/h.
These are claimed figures, but when you add up the numbers in
terms of power-to-weight you know they ring true.
Unlike just about every other small manufacturer Ė and some
larger ones to such as MG Ė TVR manufacturers its own
In this case the Tuscan uses a straight six-cylinder unit with
four-valves per cylinder, dry sump lubrication and a capacity
of 3 605 cc. Maximum power is a claimed 260 kW, produced at a
bellowing 7 200 rpm. And there is 393 Nm of torque at 5 500
When you consider that the car weighs just 1 100 kg, some 300
kg less than a BMW M3 CSL, youíll understand why the TVR is
such a rocket.
The light weight is due to the classic sports car construction
of the car that hasnít changed in essence since the late
1950s Ė a steel space-frame chassis clad with a fiberglass
It is a very rigid construction, but you pay a penalty in
terms of refinement. There are more than a few creaks and
groans associated with these TVRs and the dynamics are very
Complementing its slightly higher ride-height and more
road-orientated trim, the dramatic-looking Tuscan has an
additional feature that will appeal to just about everybody.
The roof panel and rear window are removable, and can be
stowed in the car in case the weather turns foul.
You donít expect a sports car to have a big boot, but the
cavernous opening at the rear can hold more luggage than many
Part of the design brief was for the roof to be stowable in
the car and itís a fairly easy task, as long as you take
care to store the roof and glass carefully.
The glass is stored in a special cover supplied by TVR.
With the top down the car is even more fun, and with the
heater turned on you can drive it top-down in cold weather
Buffeting protection is not in the SLK class, but itís not
too bad. You can still shout at your traveling companion above
the engine noise, which overrides everything else.
Turning to the T350, this is more of a competition-orientated
model, but essentially very similar to its stable mate.
It has a lower ride height than the Tuscan, more down-force.
These straight sixes rev to 8000 rpm, and, just in case you
were wondering, there is a yearís guarantee on all the
mechanicals of the car.
Like the Tuscan the TVR T350 features classic double-wishbone
suspension front and rear, coil-over gas dampers and anti-roll
Braking is via four-pot calipers on the front and single pot
calipers at the rear on discs.
The wheels on both cars are 18-inches in diameter with
35-profile 225 rubber at the front, 235-40s on the rear.
Thanks to a slightly different throttle profile performance is
listed as 4,5 seconds in the 0-100 run, but the 0- 160 takes
Whereas the Tuscan features a very futuristic cockpit with
digital engine diagnostics display, the T350 is more classic.
Apart from rather basic seat and steering wheel adjustment, an
interesting item is that the pedal boxes are adjustable to
suit each driver.
And the cockpits of both TVRs are a maze of odd solutions to
simple operations like opening the doors Ė eccentric is the
Drivers of traditional sports cars will relish the fact that
these TVRs come with absolutely no driver aids. There is no
traction control, no brake-cornering assistance, no ABS
braking on these cars.
Both TVR Tuscan and the T350 are priced at R695 000.
Thatís some R200 000 less than a base-level Porsche 911. For
this you get much more performance, much less sophistication.
Unlike a Porsche, itís definitely not an everyday ride. Itís all seat-of-the-pants enjoyment. And driving one of
these cars is an all-engrossing experience, every kilometer of
if itís just a trip to the corner cafť.
Tuscan and T350
Straight-six , 3 605 cc, naturally-aspirated
260 kW @ 7 200 rpm
393 Nm @ 5 500 rpm
Five-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel-drive
km/h: 4,3 seconds (T350 4,5 seconds)
speed: 280 km/h
695 000 (both models)