This is one of just four TVR Trident prototypes that were made in the mid-1960s, they were powered by Ford 289 V8 engines and this car is the only right hand drive example that was built.
The TVR Trident could very well have been the British automaker’s greatest production car up until that time when it was shown to the public at the New York and Geneva Motor Shows in 1965. Interest in the car was significant, but TVR was struggling financially and was soon taken over by a new owner.
Fast Facts – The TVR Trident Prototype
- The TVR Trident was styled by Trevor Frost, also known as Trevor Fiore, and built by hand at Carrozzeria Fissore based in Turin, Italy. The Trident had a steel body with an aluminum hood and it was based on the pre-existing TVR Grantura/Griffith chassis with power provided by a Ford 289 V8.
- Interest in the car was significant after it was shown to the public however TVR was in deep financial distress. The rights to the Trident design were bought by TVR dealer W.J. (Bill) Last and TVR was taken over by Martin Lilley.
- A production version of the car was made, with an Austin-Healey 3000-type chassis and a fiberglass body, it was named the Trident Clipper.
- Three original TVR Trident prototype coupes were made with one convertible, they’re now considered highly collectible – particularly in the British classic car scene.
The TVR That Almost Was
TVR really began back in 1946, just a year after WWII, when a young Englishman named Trevor Wilkinson bought an old wheelwright’s workshop in Blackpool. He named the enterprise Trevcar Motors but would later rename it TVR, after taking his own name and removing some letters.
TVR produced a small number of handmade sports and racing cars that performed well and by the mid-1950s they were ready to release their first proper low-volume production car – the TVR Jomar.
This would be followed by a series of other TVRs leading into the 1960s, by which point the company was well and truly established as one of Britain’s up and coming independent automakers.
It would be into this tumultuous period that the TVR Trident would be born, the TVR that almost was. The beautifully proportioned car was designed by British-Italian automotive stylist Trevor Frost, also known as Trevor Fiore, and it was built by the expert hands over at Carrozzeria Fissore in Turin.
Two steel-bodied prototypes were made in 1964, both left-hand drive. In 1965 an additional prototype was made in right-hand drive, and this was followed by a single convertible. These prototypes were shown at a number of auto shows in England, North America, and on the Continent including the prestigious New York and Geneva shows.
One unfortunate characteristic that has beset many of these independent British automakers has been financial instability, and so it was that in the mid-1960s TVR was at a cross-roads that would result in the company being taken over by Martin Lilley.
Sadly the company wouldn’t be able to put the model into production despite the overwhelming interest due to financial issues. The rights had been sold off to TVR dealer W.J. (Bill) Last who promptly set to work creating a fiberglass bodied version he would call the Trident Clipper.
Although the Trident would never enter production as a TVR it would have a significant impact on the company. 15 years after the Trident had first been shown to the public the TVR Tasmin would be released – a car that was clearly influenced by the Trident, that would define TVR for the 1980s and beyond.
The TVR Trident
There were four TVR Tridents made in total, three coupes and a single convertible. Whereas the prototypes had steel bodies and aluminum hoods all made by hand in Italy, it’s likely that any production version of the car would have a fiberglass body – a material that had long been favored by TVR.
The Trident prototypes were all based on TVR Grantura/Griffith chassis and they were given 4.7 liter Ford 289 V8s mated to 4-speed manual transmissions. The same drivetrain used in the Shelby Cobra 289, the Ford Mustang, and a number of other Ford production cars.
The performance of the TVR Trident prototypes was remarkable by the standards of the day, and even by the standards of modern sports cars. They could reach a claimed 150 mph and do the 0 – 62 mph dash in a whisker over 5.0 seconds.
The 1965 TVR Trident Prototype Shown Here
The car you see here is the only right-hand drive example that was ever built, it’s also one of the three coupes, and it’s the car that was shown at the 1965 Turin Motor Show.
It remained stored at TVR in dismantled condition until it was sold on in 1972, passing through the hands of a small number of owners until it was bought by the current owner in 1986 who had seen it at a show 20 years earlier and jumped at the chance to buy it when it became available.
The restoration commenced in the late 1980s under the guidance of Sir Stirling Moss’ former-racing mechanic, Don Haldenby. Haldenby retired the car back to the condition it was in when it was first made in Turin, he sourced a suitable Ford 289 V8, a Borg Warner T10 transmission, and a Salisbury Power-Lok 4HU differential.
Some original suspension parts weren’t available so he sourced Ford front suspension units that would match the car (and the engine) and Jaguar rear suspension. The car has recently been given a complete strip down and professional respray, it still has its original Italian interior in place, and it has just 13,000 miles on the odometer.
This Trident is due to roll across the auction block with Silverstone Auctions on the 12th of November with a price guide of £80,000 – £100,000 or approximately $92,200 – $115,200 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
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