The TVR Company is famous for creating hand-built special designs. Trevor Wilkinson produced the first vehicle under the TVR name in 1947, which started the cascade that would eventually turn the company into the 3rd largest sports vehicle manufacturer in the world. In the first few years, all TVR models were considered ‘specials' and only a select few were constructed. The second TVR ever constructed is still today in existence.
In 1957, the first ‘true' production run happened with the aid of Ray Saidel, an American that became the first actual TVR dealer. Saidel was also responsible for the design and testing of a car named the Jomar. The Jomar was named after his two children, and proved to be an incredibly popular vehicle and production demands couldn't even be met.
TVR Engineering chose to seek financial backing from another direction.
Near the end of 1958, TVR morphed into Layton Sports Car Ltd. Though the car was very popular, production continued to remain in disarray and it eventually led to Saidel relinquishing his dealership. The American market was closed, and unfortunately this hit the company very hard and orders tapered off quite considerably.
Early on in 1959, Grantura Engineering was begun to supply components and body shells for the TVR company, while Layton would wrap up the final assembly. The newest TVR was named after the new company, the Grantura. This vehicle was wholly responsible for carving the niche for TVR and also defined itself for the coming years as a company that produced speedy, attractive fiberglass sports cars based on a strong, tubular backbone chassis.
The company was eventually known solely as Grantura Engineering and went on to produce the V8 Griffith. Unfortunately in November of 1965 the company succumbed to financial stress and was bought out by Martin Lilley who have been a shareholder of Grantura Engineering. The name was quickly changed back to TVR Engineering which now brought an even higher level of quality control and finish.
The Grantura line was unveiled at the 1957 New York Auto Show. Though the cars themselves remained basically the same, TVR was now under new ownership and the Grantura's were featured in several prominent car magazines such as Autocar. Autocar ad rave reviews of the Grantura which placed ‘a seal of respectability onto the marque'. Though it came at ‘the price of a punishing ride', the Mark I Granturas were well lied for their excellent road-holding. Other well-liked features that made the Grantura a popular sports car were its large brakes, wire wheels, sleek bodywork and 11in Girling Drums.
Unfortunately, TVR couldn't fill all of the ordered received and slowly they slid deep into debt. By mid 1960, only 100 Grantura MK I's had been produced.
The Mk. II was introduced in 1960 and featured changes in engine with the 1600 MGA engine now being the top engine available. Other updates on the MK II included new lighting and fender flares. Higher sales were hit by the MK II, but the MK IIA replaced it in 1961.
The MK IIA only featured minor updates to the engine line-up along with other miniscule detail chances. The most dramatic change was from the standard fitment of Girling front disc brakes on all vehicles. Several other performance updates that were highlighted on the MK IIA included an optional lightweight, aluminum cross-flow HRG-Derrington cylinder head. The final MK IIA was built in September of 1962 and is famed for being the most popular TVR ever produced. A total of 400 examples were produced and the vehicle still retained the same body shell used in the first TVR Coupes produced in 1958.
Bringing the first major redesign in TVR's history, the Grantura MK III featured an all new chassis that was graced by a new, but still familiar body shell. This all new chassis was quite an improvement and was designed with both rigidity and strength in mind and was a sophisticated space frame chassis. Upper and lower A-arms all around replaced the stiff VW suspension and were complimented by telescoping shock absorbers.
More stability was achieved by a wheelbase increase of 1.5 inches, and this also improved the interior room. Numerous suspension parts were made in-house and much running gear was speced from the Triumph shelves. This updated chassis eventually served as the new basis for various TVR models for the next ten years. Unfortunately, money was tight at the TVR Company and only 90 Mk. III's were ever produced.
The Grantura 1800S was replaced the Mk. III and showcased an all new redesigned boy shell that came with a ‘Manx-tail', a much larger rear window and the round ‘Ban-the-Bomb' tail lights from the Ford Cortina. Introduced in the summer of the 1964, the Grantura 1800S was produced until July of 1966. The 1800S was upgraded in a large attempt to refine the TVR marque. It was eventually abandoned.
The aged Grantura was replaced with Vixen for the 1968 model year along with the Tuscan series.By Jessica Donaldson