The TVR Griffith was released in 1990 as the first model under TVR’s “New Beginning.” It was arguably the most important new TVR of the decade and today the model remains highly sought after.
The Griffith was initially powered by a fire-breathing TVR-tuned 4.0 liter Rover V8 and thanks to its lightweight construction, sports suspension, and high-performance brakes there were few sports cars that could touch it.
Fast Facts – The TVR Griffith
- The TVR Griffith was developed in the 1990s as a successor to the TVR V8S, under the leadership of TVR’s chairman, Peter Wheeler.
- TVR collaborated with V-8 Developments to upgrade the Rover V8 engine, resulting in a range of power outputs from 240, 280, to 340 bhp, depending on the specific engine variant.
- The Griffith uses a tubular steel backbone chassis with independent suspension and disc brakes at all four corners. The engine is mounted up front, and power is sent back through a 5-speed manual transmission to the rear differential.
- Production ran from 1991 to 2002 alongside the mechanically very similar TVR Chimaera. 2,351 examples of the TVR Griffith were made in total, and they remain popular with fans of very fast, and completely analog, sports cars.
A New TVR For A New Decade
TVR first started out back in 1946, famously named by founder Trevor Wilkinson who simply removed a few letters from his first name to come up with TVR. Enthusiasts often still call the cars “Trevor” to this day.
TVR has been compared with Lotus and it’s not hard to see why, both British marques have historically tended to favor tubular steel backbone chassis, independent suspension, and sleek fiberglass bodies.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that Lotus has always been more of a Dr Jekyl character with design finesse, technologically advanced engines, and scalpel sharp handling.
TVR is more of a Mr Hyde – typically getting their hands on the most powerful engines they could find and then building a rocketship of a sports car around them that requires both skill and strength to control at the limit.
Towards the end of the 1980s it was clear that TVR needed an all-new sports car for the upcoming new decade of the 1990s. The styling cues of the earlier cars was left in the archives and an all new body was developed with sleek lines, seating for two, and a simple folding soft top roof.
Above Video: This is the 1993 episode of Top Gear in which presenter Tiff Needell drives the TVR Griffith.
They would fit the car with a TVR-tuned Rover V8 initially, and they called it the TVR Griffith as an homage to the original TVR Griffith 200 and 400 series of cars from the 1960s.
The car was first publicly shown at the 1990 Birmingham Motor Show and it became an instant sensation. TVR was apparently taking an average of one new order ever 8 minutes over the course of the weekend, and the car was covered extensively in the automotive media of the day.
The TVR Griffith
After its successful debut the Griffith entered full production in 1991, with a jam-packed order book. The Blackpool factory was quickly building hundreds of the cars per year, providing much needed capital inflows and helping the company’s (oftentimes) shaky finances greatly.
The TVR Chimaera was released in 1992, it shared largely identical mechanical underpinnings with the Griffith. Its body was designed as more of a comfortable GT car and so it had softer suspension, a more spacious interior, and a slightly longer body over all.
The Griffith was given a classic TVR tubular steel backbone chassis, and it had double wishbone independent suspension front and back with coil-over gas dampers and sway bars. Ventilated disc brakes were fitted front and back, and the car was given Griffith-specific 16″ alloy wheels.
Three major engine variants were used in the Griffith, the 4.0 liter Rover V8 producing 240 bhp was the first offered. This was quickly followed by the optional 4.3 liter high-performance engine producing 280 bhp, which was then succeeded in later years by the 5.0 liter V8 making 340 bhp.
Power was sent back through a 5-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels, no automatic transmission option was ever offered. The Griffith was given a beautiful fiberglass roadster-stye body with a folding soft top, a raked back windshield, and seating for two in a simple but well appointed cockpit.
Many TVR’s of this era and beyond were famous for the fact they eschewed more modern safety features like anti-lock braking systems, electric traction control, stability control, etc.
This does leave complete control in the hands of the driver in a truly analog sense, however it means that there are no safety nets if the driver gets it wrong.
Production ran from 1991 to 2002 at which point it was replaced by the TVR Tamora. The Griffith was an exceedingly important model for the British automaker and it helped put it back on the map both in the UK and wider afield.
The model would appear in the popular Playstation games Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2, and it enjoyed a strong following in Japan that continues to this day.
The 1992 TVR Griffith Shown Here
The car you see here is a very early production TVR Griffith from 1992, just the second year. It’s also fitted with the more powerful optional 4.3 liter Rover V8 engine, a strong selling point among TVR aficionados.
This Griffith is finished in Dark Green with a Tan interior over matching Dark Green carpets. The interior on the car is a little more toned down than many TVR cockpits of the era, which earned a reputation for their outlandish color combinations.
This car comes with a comprehensive history file, a Panasonic radio/cassette system, with boot-mounted CD changer, an anti-theft alarm, electric windows and door mirrors, and the owner’s handbook.
It’s currently being sold out of Kent in the United Kingdom and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.
Images courtesy of Car & Classic
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