The Vixen appealed to TVR enthusiasts but not to the general public. Like the Grantura it was very light and constructed from tried and tested out-sourced components. Very fast and reliable, it was well received by the market which needed to be patient because of the slow delivery ex-factory. All of these issues stemmed from one major problem that TVR never managed to overcome… lack of finance. It prevented meaningful research and development, and factory expansion. Other niche-market makers like Lotus and Morgan managed their difficulties rather better and prospered. TVR simply staggered from one crisis to the next. However, it must be said that TVR achieved a reputation for excellent performance and economy.
We have chosen the Series 3 model as our subject car. The TVR Vixen S3 was largely Ford Cortina GT MK II (also Lotus Cortina) based. TVR (as usual) made many modifications through the production run, offering various power-plant options. This served to confuse to the extent that nobody could be quite sure what they were looking at, so close examination was necessary.
Chassis & body;
Vixen’s body, as stated, was styled very like the Grantura. It employed a handsome, full glass-fibre Fixed-Head Coupe body-shell with two doors and seats. The Cortina MK1 `gunsight` tail-lights were now replaced by the less recognisable MK 2 wrap-around units which were an improvement. The total effect was very attractive.
The tubular steel chassis of the Vixen was a TVR product, fitted with running-gear and power-train from the excellent Ford Cortina GT. The body was bolted to the chassis, not bonded. Braking was supplied very effectively by front disc and rear drum brakes with servo-assistance. The suspension used double-wishbones and coil-springs all-round. Rack and pinion steering added to the superb handling and control. A front anti-roll bar was also fitted, giving a positive `feel` when cornering hard.
Ford`s Kent 1599cc, inline four cylinder OHV `cross-flow` was an excellent choice. Probably the best unit in it`s class at the time. It was fitted with a single Weber twin-choke compound carburettor which gave aggressive performance when required and good economy when driven peacefully. The compression ratio was 9:1. This engine was easy to modify and was a popular fitment with enthusiasts. Ford`s 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox transmitted the power reliably to the rear wheels. It was a lovely gearbox to use.
Most examples of the Vixen around today have been modified and improved so the term `standard` does not really apply. Various engines could be fitted but here we give the published figures for the Series 3 using the Ford `Kent` 1599cc unit. Altogether the Vixen had 86 bhp and 92 ft/lbs of torque, which doesn’t sound like much but against 737 kg it was quick and hairy for its period. It still could make 60 mph in 8.8 seconds.
An excellent car for a rebuilding project, simple, rugged and very worthwhile. Any and all of the built-in problems are easily rectifiable with plenty of available parts, reasonably priced. Production numbers over 6 years were poor making Vixen a rare car and worth a lot of money in the near future. Only 743 units were manufactured, most of which were exported to the US. Many of these are involved in GT racing, with considerable success to this day. When fitted with a V8 engine the Vixen is comparable to the AC Cobra. TVR`s story is on-going although at the time of writing it is in hibernation. Hopefully TVR will return soon.
TVR Vixen S3 1970-1972
|Body Type||2 seater fixed-head coupe|
|Drive Type||Rear wheel drive|
|Cargo Volume||Almost none|
|Engine||1.6 OHV Ford Kent 8V|
|Displacement||1599 cc||97.6 cui|
|Power||64 Kw||86 bhp||5500 RPM|
|Torque||125 Nm||92 ft. lb||4000 RPM|
|Top Speed||183 km/h||114 mph|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph||8.8 s|
|Fuel consumption||l/100 km||Imperial mpg|
|Gearbox||4 speed manual|
|Weight||737 kg||1625 lb|
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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.
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