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TVR: R.I.P.

A comment to the end of a legend with a patchy history

16/06/2013 06:21 |  Comments: 

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Former car restorer, damper designer, rotary-engine guru and also an automotive engineer, but generally doesn’t talk much about his former activities. András is our mag’s Leatherman tool: when there’s a project no-one would poke with a stick, he’s the one usually assigned to carry it through. When he’s in Hungary, he works 16 hours daily, then every once in a while he disappears from the horizon. Last time he’s been seen in Auckland… Has a huge garage, lives with a girlfriend.

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vehicles

  • Peugeot 504 'Rosie' (1972)
  • BMW 1602 (1975)
  • Yamaha FZR1000 Genesis (1988)
We’re not living in the 70’s-80’s any more, but don’t be sad about that. Just leave TVR in peace.

I can recall the shock when I saw a TVR for the first time. It happened at a luxury car exhibition in Budapest which I happened to visit with my friend Roland. There, in the troubled ocean of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis, was a small secret island, the TVR area. It'd be hard to explain how they got there or who made the decision to show off these tacky supercars at a ridiculously small Eastern European exhibition of shiny, posh cars. I suspect that a series of decisions like this led to the bankruptcy of the company in 2012.

The most beautiful arse an automobile can have - that's how I remember the rear end of the round-ish red Tuscan. I was stalking around the car with an obsession, as if I couldn't leave the place. To be perfectly honest, that was exactly how I felt. It wasn't only the shape of the car, but also the promises made on the data sheet that made me shiver. Before that day, I didn't know about the existence of TVR; Speed Six were just two boring English words and certainly did not mean a dreadful straight-six with thunderous sound and 350-400 PS.

The blue Sagaris next to the red Tuscan made a huge impression, too. Its shape was probably not quite as spectacular as the Tuscan's, but its size and ambience was even that bit more over the limit. Obviously, the engineers were in love with that car when they created it - every little detail gives it away. Maybe it's not as precise and perfect as a German Rennwagen, but it's a car that makes one obsessive. I never had the chance to drive a TVR since then, but many times I felt a strong desire to own one. I've read a few articles about the raw character of the TVRs, how devastatingly fast they are and what a unique experience it is to drive them on the limit, but soon I got bored of the tales of elongated orgasms.

Several times I felt the urge to set on a trip to the UK, home of TVR, where once in a hundred years a well-kept Tuscan shows up for sale. But when I converted the price to my currency and compared that with the balance on my account, the gap could only have been filled with a mid-sized bank robbery. So I stayed in the popular club of the wannabe TVR drivers and was certain about never owning one. Eventually, I became so immune that I didn't even notice the news in 2012 that TVR finally closed down.

This year, however, on the 7th of June, word started to spread about the resurrection of TVR. Everybody was extremely excited about the fact that a British venture bought back the rights to build cars under the TVR brand and all of them put some coded message on their homepage. Lacking hard facts, each one started to make up dreams about a new TVR, which would be faster than a Ferrari for half the price. This proved to be no more than a fantasy, but we know that hope dies last.

One thing is for sure: there are many who would love to own a TVR - a sports car that's not about posing but about driving. A tubular frame, a roaring straight-six and a stunning plastic body: that's all a man needs to have automotive fun. ABS, ESP and similar aids are for weaklings. At least, that's the standard phrase in the pub when we're talking cars. But what would we do if we really had the money? The guys out there who could have all afforded a TVR – well, why didn't they all buy one?

I'm pretty sure they changed their minds. The TVRs, at least the way we adore them, were dinosaurs. Time has come for them to fade into extinction: in 2013, legislation as well as the market would not allow cars like those TVR made be sold in our countries. They might have huge fan support, but I think most of these fans are guys who would never be rich enough to own one anyways. And the ones who prefer Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Porsches. That handful who make the exceptions aren't there in enough numbers to keep such a car manufacturer alive.

However, I don't really mind if TVR didn't build any more cars. In fact, I'd be happier if the whole resurrection didn't happen in the first place. That would be better than another fail, and much better than a change to less eccentric or – whisper - electric cars. The legend could live on, we could slowly but surely forget the struggle that was going on in the last ten years and TVR would get a nice spot in the automotive hall of fame. Think about it: there are enough great TVR's out there – and they will become true classics.

Those who are looking for unspoiled, rough driving experience today will have to get themselves a car that is at least twenty, thirty years old anyway. Is there any problem with that? You can spend the price of a new TVR on those, too. The few who are looking for that kind of fun will find their dream car in a time, and does it really have to be a new one? A rarity from a long-gone brand should be worth more than any new car, you know.

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