The TVR Griffith 500 is widely considered to be one of the greatest TVRs ever made. It was launched at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show as TVR’s “New Beginning,” it was so popular that at one point a new order was being taken ever eight minutes.
The Griffith 500 was a pure distillation of the British sports car company’s soul, with performance so wild that new drivers were recommended to take advanced driving lessons before attempting any spirited driving on the road.
Fast Facts – The TVR Griffith 500
- The TVR Griffith 500 was so named for its 5.0 liter Rover V8, an all aluminum-alloy engine that had started out as the Buick 215 V8 in 1961. The Brits bought the rights to the engine and re-engineered it so thoroughly that it became a truly British motor.
- The team at TVR developed the Griffith to carry the marque forward, reestablishing it as a builder of high-end sports cars and carrying it into the 21st century.
- The Griffith had a tubular steel backbone chassis, a lightweight fiberglass body, a front (mid)mounted engine, and sports-oriented suspension front and back.
- Today the Griffith 500 is seen as one of the most desirable TVRs of the period, if not the most desirable outright, and there’s a committed owner’s club in the UK.
TVR – Kind Of Like Lotus With A Hairy Chest
TVR has probably best been described as “Lotus with a hairy chest,” as both a British sports car builders that were fond (at one time) of building fiberglass bodied cars with steel backbone chassis, using many suspension, braking, and other parts from various manufacturers.
The cars built by TVR were perhaps a little less refined than the cars that came from Lotus – TVRs were more likely to have a fire breathing V8 under the hood and the suspension was developed for drivers who knew what they were doing.
Lotus vehicles on the other hand were often powered by smaller but more advanced engines, and they became famous for scalpel-sharp handling that was often (but not always) quite forgiving.
TVR was founded back in 1946 in Blackpool, England by a man named Trevor Wilkinson. He decided to name the company after himself, as you would, so he removed an “r,” and “e,” and an “o” from his name, ending up with “TVR.”
The company soon made a name for itself building high performance sports cars, fiberglass was used extensively in the bodies as it was both lightweight and inexpensive.
Engines and many other parts were bought in to keep costs low, as a result TVRs have been fitted with a wide range of different engines over the decades.
The Griffith: A New TVR For A New Decade
In the 1980s it was clear that something new was needed. The current line of TVRs was popular but they were getting a little old in the tooth, and the company would need a new design for the up coming 1990s if they were to stay relevant.
The engineering team developed a new tubular steel backbone chassis with independent front and rear suspension, a front-mid-mounted Rover V8 was fitted and paired with a 5-speed gearbox, then the whole thing was given a grand new and entirely modern body moulded from fiberglass.
The styling of the car was a lightyears ahead of anything else TVR had in production at the time and the performance, even with the lowest-output 240 bhp engine, was ample.
When it was first shown at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show the orders began to flood in. Initially you could order either the 4.0 or 4.3 liter Rover V8 producing 240 bhp and 280 bhp respectively.
Big valve cylinder heads became an option in 1992 but in 1993 the most famous Griffith of them all appeared – the Griffith 500.
The TVR Griffith 500
The Griffith 500 was fitted with a 340 bhp 5.0 liter version of the Rover V8, offering a top speed of almost 170 mph and a 0 – 60 mph time of just over 4.0 seconds.
By modern standards it’s still a quick car, but by the standards of the early-1990s it was a four-wheeled lightning bolt.
Over the course of its production run, approximately 2,600 examples of the Griffith would be built and today they’re sought after by people who are looking for a sports car that’s a little unusual.
The 1994 TVR Griffith 500 Shown Here
The car you see here is a Griffith 500 from just the second year of production, 1994. Over there course of its life so far it’s lived in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
The current owner first fell in love with the Griffith 500 when he was working at McLaren as an aeronautical engineer on their Formula 1 cars. Legendary McLaren Formula 1 and super car designer Gordon Murray would often arrive at work in his own Griffith 500 – perhaps the greatest praise the car could ever receive.
The owner was better placed to afford a Griffith of his own in 2015 and so he set about finding a good one, after seeing many poorly kept examples he settled on this one and acquired it.
In his ownership it’s been on a number of club runs including one to France where the car saw there street of Paris and doubtless attracted a few glances.
It’s now being offered for sale on The Market by Bonhams in a live online auction. If you’d like to read more about it you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of The Market by Bonhams
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