The first real TVR was constructed in 1949 but TVR Engineering was actually formed in 1947 by a young engineer called Trevor Wilkinson. The first cars that he produced were all aluminum bodied open sportscars. Trevor Wilkinson started on anew chassis in 1953 and changed to using glassfiber bodies with various engines. Around twenty of these vehicles were built. In 1955 they designed the first backbone type chassis which was used in all production TVR's to this day. The body was developed from using a modified Ashley kit car front end for both the front and the rear of the car.
In 1982 TVR's current owner and chairman, Peter Wheeler took over the company in over the next few years the vehicles became faster and more sophisticated. The TVR Griffith was basically the vehicle responsible for TVR's renaissance. Overwhelmingly successful, the Griffith was delivered to customers at the beginning of 1992.
Following the success of the Griffith, TVR introduced the two-seater Chimaera, a convertible sports car manufactured from 1992 through 2003. The Chimaera has contributed to TVR's position at the most popular of Britain's independent car manufactures.
The Chimaera shares a similar chassis to the Griffith and used the same derivatives of the Rover V8 engine. Intended to be the long distance tourer of the range, the Chimaera was longer and most spacious with a slightly softer suspension than the Griffith. With a ground clearance of about 5 inches, the suspension consists of all round independent, unequal-length double wishbones and coil over gas dampers assisted by anti-roll bars.
A milder version of the Griffith, the 1993 Chimaera was still a formidable roadster thanks to the lightweight construction. Using a steel backbone chassis with side rails to provide impact protection which was strong and transmitted no cowl shake. The handling was good, due to 50:50 weight distribution; achieved by setting the engine well back, while the wishbone suspension was used front and rear as were four-wheel disc brakes.
The steering was a very quick rack and pinion, like other TVRs. The engine in the Chimaera was a developed version of Rover's all-aluminum V8 while the TVR modified theirs by increasing the compression ratio to 9.8:1 then mapping their own engine management to aid in power delivery.
The front disk brakes of the TVR Chimaera are 260 mm in diameter and ventilated while the rear disk brakes are 273 mm in diameter. Both sets of the brakes are servo assisted with front/rear split dual circuits and there is a cable-operated hand brake for the rear wheels. Steering on the Chimaera is optionally power-assisted and works through rack and pinion with adjustable steering column. The Chimaera featured 2.2 turns lock to lock for the power-assisted steering or 2.5 if manual. With the option of being customized completely by TVR, the steering wheel is 350 mm in diameter and leather-covered.
Manufacturer's options included power assisted steering, AC, rear speakers, six CD autochanger, full leather, heated seats, wood and chrome steering wheels, wool carpets and gold colored badges. Standard on 5.0, the seven spoke ‘Griffith 500' wheels were available for smaller engine versions. 4,988 cc V8 that was initially a factory option on the 4.3 and 4.5 liter models.
In 1995 TVR introduced a 305ci (5-liter) version which increased power up to 340bhp and the 0-60 mph down 4.1 seconds.
The most driveable old- school TVR, the Chimaera 450 still demands extreme skill as it dispenses with most modern driver aids. The Chimaera 450 doesn't have traction control, or ABS, though it features an engine that is bursting with torque.
The Chimaera still represents one of the best compromises on the road today, the entry level Chimaera until 2007 was the four liter model.By Jessica Donaldson