Thursday 24th January 2019,
Inopian

TVR Ltd. 1946 – 2006 History

Bev Roberts 17. September 2014 Cars, Europe, TVR, United Kingdom No Comments

This introduction may seem a little vague and strange at first but we crave the reader`s indulgence. Reliable data is often at a premium but in TVR`s case much of it is impossible to track down. All of the usual sources contradict each other and so the author has had to rely on memory and personal experience of most of the models covered here. See for yourself our best effort…

We will write about the major models only because the cars made between 1949 and 1960 were mostly one-off specials. Some data is available for the major models and added to personal experience we have managed to cover the most important cars. That is our excuse and we are sticking to it !

TVR was opened in 1946 as an engineering company by Trevor Wilkinson in Blackpool, Lancashire. TVR came from Trevor Wilkinson`s first name TreVoR. TVR tackled all manner of repairs and engineering and finally the first car was built in 1949 and was unique. This was the era of the Ford-based `specials`. Many marques achieved success with this early format, notably Lotus. Ford `specials` were normally based on the Ford `8` and the E93A Ford Popular chassis, power-train and running-gear. Some makers constructed their own chassis, Lotus and TVR to name but two.

The `specials` were usually fibre-glass bodied sports-cars powered by Ford`s 1172cc side-valve 4cylinder engine. With as little as 35 bhp and a 3speed gear-box their surprising performance was due, quite simply, to a lack of weight. The quality of TVR`s construction led to healthy if slow growth and before long TVR had built a reputation for quick and very light sports-cars. However, anything approaching volume production was a long time coming and it was not until 1959 that TVR was able to produce in reasonable numbers and compete with the other marques in it`s class.

Costs are always the big problem in car production and TVR was no exception. The company was plagued by the cash-flow problems caused by low-volume production that drove so many companies into liquidation. We will not dwell on TVR`s financial history because it is depressing, not a little boring and quite irrelevant. Suffice it to say that changes of owner-ship and bankruptcy occurred with miserable frequency.

In 2004 the company was taken over by a Russian millionaire, Nikolai Smolensky. He re-started production with the Sagaris but after two years the company closed for the last time. Smolensky later sold the company to Les Edgar who also intended to begin production but at the time of writing the Blackpool factory is still idle and empty.

We would like to ask our readers to contribute any reliable information that they may have to make this article more precise and add more knowledge to what TVR was up to throughout the existence of the company. If you feel you have the missing pieces of puzzle be sure to write to us here. Thank you!

Watch out for TVR Vixen and Grantura coming out this week!

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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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