Beauty and love have no place in Britain. Which is why we are responsible for the most brutal and savage car of all: the TVR. An Alfa Romeo will try to woo you with poetry. A TVR will bend you over the Aga, rip off its kilt and give you one right there and then.
A Volkswagen will make you a lovely shepherd’s pie and light a fire to make your evening warm and cosy. Whereas a TVR will come home and bend you over the Aga again. A TVR would nick the lifeboat charity box on the bar, empty it then shove it up your jacksie. A TVR would fight for its life, its honour, its family and, most of all, its pint.
Put a TVR on Desert Island Discs and it would take a flamethrower and a selection of hits from Wayne County and the Electric Chairs. Then it would bend Sue Lawley over the mixing desk and make animal love until it broke wind.
You don’t get paint on a TVR; it’s woad. And instead of being made from steel or aluminium it’s wattle and daub. It’s an Iron Age fort with a Bronze Age engine. It’s Boudica, only with less femininity and more rage in its heart.
And look at the names TVRs have had over the years: Griffith, Chimaera, Cerbera — all terrifying mythological creatures with goat heads and seven sets of teeth.
That’s why I’m unnerved by the latest version, the T350C. What kind of a name is that? It makes it sound like an electric toothbrush. And while a toothbrush has a revolving head and bristles, it’s not as scary as, say, a hammerhead shark. Could this mean, then, that the new car has lost some of its bite?
Two things back this up. First of all, it’s a coupé with a boot and a hatchback, and I’m sorry but I just don’t equate the concept of TVR motoring with all this stuff. It’s like trying to imagine a Saxon despot in a cardigan.
Then there’s the handling. Push any of the other TVRs into a corner too fast and in an instant, with no warning, you’re in a world of smoke and hate. Getting your entry speed wrong in a TVR is as dangerous as spilling a Glaswegian’s pint. But the toothbrush just understeers, like a Golf or a Focus.
There’s other stuff too. For all the racing heritage and volume of a straight-six engine, it simply doesn’t sound as terrifying as a V8. And this is the first TVR I’ve driven in ages with a substandard interior. In recent years we’ve become used to all sorts of swoops and oddities, but in this one it just doesn’t work. It feels daft for no reason.
And yet, by some considerable margin, this is the best TVR I’ve ever driven. With its integral roll cage it feels stiffer and more together, like all four corners are working in harmony, rather than in discord. And the brakes are just astonishing.
So’s the power. You may only get 3.6 litres and no forced induction, but you end up with a better power-to-weight ratio than you get from a Lamborghini Murciélago. That means it is seriously, properly, eye-poppingly fast.
And because it doesn’t try to bite your head off every time you make a mistake, you can use more of the power for more of the time.
Finally, there’s the question of money. To get this kind of performance you have to be looking at a Porsche GT3 for £72,000, or a Murciélago for £163,000. Even the Noble I wrote about last week is over £52,000. But the TVR is just £38,500. Plus another two if you want lift-out roof panels.
So what we have here is a TVR with all the savagery of the olde worlde coupled with the practicality of a useable boot and a soft ride. It’s an ancient Briton with Roman overtones and as a result Alan Rickman wouldn’t be able to play it properly in a film. He’d be too mad. Think more in terms of Alan Titchmarsh — a little bit raunchy but actually a little bit not.
from clarksons review in the sunday times this weekend.