Talking Motors: New TVR promises to be fast, furious and very loud
'It's British, fast, furious and loud.'
Reassurances that only serve to make us pine even more for something which most of us will only see from time to time speeding past, or next to us at a red light.
But that doesn’t matter. The first time a new TVR rumbles past and shortens the odds on a tinnitus-filled later life, part of me will be glad I was stood watching it – able to admire it from a perspective the driver can’t.
Would I swap places? Sure. But for now, like many others I suspect, I’m just happy TVR has the chance to add some more glory to its colourful past. We already know TVR’s new factory will be based in Ebbw Vale, south Wales, and visitors to this month’s London motorshow had their heads turned by the marque’s stand – which revealed not much, but enough to start in-depth daydreams featuring a greatest hits of avalanche-inducing engine sounds.
A clay model of the new TVR, expected to be unveiled later this year, was kept under a cover at the show, revealing little more than the size and shape of the new styling of the coupe, with the launch version expected to come in at just under £100,000.
From what people were able to see from the sheet-covered model, the front end looks like it’s going to be much lower than previous models, and it is also possible to tell there is a double bulge in the roof, a nod to the car’s racing ambitions as it will be able to accommodate helmets.
And TVR chairman Les Edgar has revealed they are hoping to compete in the European Le Mans Series in late 2018. Although so few details have surfaced so far, nearly 400 people have placed the same kind of blind faith in the car as I would have done had I had half a house worth of surplus lying around somewhere for when the final bill comes in.
You’ll need £5,000 to place a deposit, and annoyingly the TVR website accepts credit cards, meaning you could in theory max out your credit limit and worry about where the other £95,000 will come from later (selling a kidney online won’t raise nearly enough – I’ve already looked).
We do know the car will have the kind of oomph that will make most of us keel over and grab our stomachs in the way you’d think only an overdose of jalapeno peppers can. This is thanks to Ford Mustang’s five-litre V8, which has been further developed by Cosworth. The finished article will be a face-melting 400bhp and capable of pulling 0-60 in fewer than four seconds.
But perhaps even more exciting than all of those things put together is the weighty hint being dropped that the new car will see the light of day under the famous Griffith name.
The undercover clay model was joined by a 1960s Griffith 400 and the past two times the Griffith name has been used – in the 60s and later in the 90s – it has signalled a revival for TVR. Edgar has said no name has been chosen yet, but message board mumblings suggest an old name will be used.
There will be a convertible model shortly after the latest TVR becomes available, for those who would prefer a windswept look when the weather allows and after the launch version, a normal version costing around £65,000 will be made.
Maybe still out of reach, but let’s not let that spoil the dream.
Let’s rejoice in Edgar’s promise of noise. He said: “We’ve tried to take out as many electronics as possible, get back to a purist’s car.”
Let’s hope when we hear one coming we will know he kept to his word.
Bloodhound smells record at amazing 1,000mph
The land speed record hasn’t been broken since 1997.
Andy Green’s Thrust SSC broke the sound barrier on its way to recording an average of 763.035mph over one mile at the USA’s Black Rock Desert in October of that year.
With a 20-year-old record, why bother to try and go even faster?
“Because it is the most exciting thing I think you can do on God’s earth,” said Richard Noble, the man who held the record between 1983 and 1997.
And Noble is now working together with Green to crack the Holy Grail – 1,000mph in a car.
The attempt will take place at the Hakskeen Pan desert in the north-west corner of South Africa at some point next year, and visitors to this year’s London Motorshow were able to see a replica of the car up close.
Images of Bloodhound – the vehicle the pair hope will do it – tingle the spine in a way that we thought had been left behind when people stopped bothering about land speed records and took to caring more about silly things such as driverless technology and cup holders.
It’s the centrepiece in a £40m project, and will be able to travel four-and-a-half football pitches per second – and with good reason.
Thanks to an EJ200 Rolls Royce Eurofighter jet engine and a hybrid rocket, Green will be sitting on 135,000 horsepower when he gets strapped in. In case you were wondering, that’s the equivalent of 180 Formula 1 cars. And for good measure Bloodhound will have a Cosworth Formula 1 motor bunged in to act as an auxiliary power supply.
Looking at land speed records, each time one gets broken, the margin is small – so the question that needs to be asked is why the need to jump from 763 to 1,000mph.
The Americans, that’s why.
When Tom Green snatched the record from Donald Campbell on October 2, 1964, the record stayed with US drivers for 19 years, each time being broken at Bonneville Salt Flats.
But since 1983, the roll of honour has come with a little Union Flag next to the name.
America would like the record back, and have set up a project to go about doing so.
But the team behind Bloodhound, despite delays, is determined to begin testing later in the year, at what they call low speeds of 200mph at Newquay Airport – a location chosen to annoy as few people as possible with the noise thanks to its proximity to the sea, which is as well as estimates say it will be 15 times louder than a jumbo 747 jet taking off. Even TVR would be proud.
Literally no stone has been left unturned in preparing the test track, as just one stone flicking up from the surface can cause a lot of damage.
Imagine a windscreen chip caused on the motorway and times it by three I suppose.
If all goes to plan, when Bloodhound (what a name!) arrives in South Africa it will be able to pass through the one-mile trap in 3.6 seconds.
Green won’t be able to apply the air brake until the car naturally decelerates to 800mph, and he will be able to deploy the parachute at 600mph – providing nine tonnes of drag. It makes Formula 1 look like tiddlywinks.
So I’ll be keeping a close eye on Bloodhound’s progress, and hoping there will be a new chapter in our heroic pursuit of speed.