TVR’s were fast and furious and it is incredible that such a small factory with limited resources could have turned out anything as accomplished as the Griffith, Tuscan, Chimera or Cerbera. Of course these were the culmination of almost 50 years of development under various owners, but the four mentioned above, under the stewardship of Peter Wheeler, were arguably the best they ever made. It’s just such a shame that after almost 25 years he sold out to a 24 year old Russian millionaire, Nikolay Smolensky, who ran the firm into the ground in only 2 years.
As a teenager in the early 80’s I yearned to own a Griffith. It was quite simply the coolest car around. Not only was the modern Griffith, like its predecessors from the ’60’s – the 200 and 400 – a V8 powered 2 seater, it was also a convertible. And to a spotty youth a convertible meant sexy, it meant pulling power. It was so different to anything else, it was ahead of its time. Its shape could grace a motor show today and you’d be none the wiser that it was in fact 30 years old.
But there was a sting in its tail. It was notoriously unreliable. TVR did not have the billions to check and double check its products and the only testing that could be done was by the customer after delivery. Of course the firm learned and things improved but only to a point.
Tuscan Speed Six Mk1
Though a proposed Speed Six Griffith never made production it did evolve into the Tuscan Speed Six and an even sexier shape. The twenty years preceding its arrival had helped TVR to improve its cars and build a brand new engine, the speed six; a normally aspirated straight-6 that was the most powerful ever to be fitted to a production car with 350 bhp (261 kW) up to 405bhp (302kW) as in our Tuscan.
The engine had issues with poor lubrication and cooling. This led to valve gear failure, worn out cam lobes and finger followers. In the case of the finger followers there were reports of poor batch products and some cams were made from substandard material. As such the lobes on the cams wore out quickly. Therefore it is essential to follow a proper warm up procedure and avoid driving the engine too hard before the oil has fully lubricated the engine.
The Tuscan had a poor clutch design that could cause some components to fail after only 32k kms and its slave cylinder was definitely sub-standard. So check gear changes thoroughly and if the clutch feels spongy with little resistance, the slave cylinder seals may have gone.
Water ingress was also a common issue; in its combustion chamber leading to the head gasket failing in the engine and into senors controlling EFI warnings and power windows in particular. The ECU in the transmission tunnel has a tendancy to get wet too and this can cause the electrics to stop working. You could, for instance, be stuck inside the car as the door opening buttons are electric. Luckily there are emergency door release pulls beneath the dashboard.
It is also imperative that owners remove the front near side wheel and check the battery compartment every 6 months. One of the bolts in the battery tray can wear through the housing on the charging point causing it to short. The danger here is that it could set the vehicle on fire, so hopefully you will remember where those door pulls are if you’re inside when or if this happens.
Problems from rust are unlikely due to the fibreglass body, but its tubular steel chassis could be susceptible if it spent any time in a UK winter. Its rear screen often pops out, particularly when the targa roof panel has been taken out, mainly because it was slightly too small. They revised the size in the mk 2 and if your mk1 hasn’t had the change, go and source the newer one.
The original suspension was never the best and this can lead to tramlining. Fitting after market shock absorbers could help and the original ‘spider’ alloys have been known to bend quite easily.
For more detailed information visit http://www.mytuscan.co.uk/problems.php
Also check out http://www.pistonheads.com
Both sites are from the UK and considering you will more than likely need parts at some stage, why not go straight to the source.
I’m still working on these. If anyone has a recommended service centre, please let me know. It seems wise to assume that owning a TVR is not going to be cheap or stress free. Sure you will be the envy of all at most track days or quarter mile sprints but you don’t want to be re-building the engine after each occasion.