The seller of today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe British roadster feels it necessary to note that his TVR is not the visually similar and reputationally marred Triumph TR7. Of course, it's up to to you to correctly identify this rare Brit's true value.
Badging unseen, you might have misidentified yesterday's Acura SLX as an Isuzu because well, that's what it was. Acura wasn't fooling anybody back in the day, and this Troopacura's seller seemingly was likewise unsuccessful in getting the majority of you to agree with his pricing acumen, as it fell in a 55% Crack Pipe loss.
TVR was founded by Trevor Wilkinson, the name being taken from the first, fourth and last letters of his first name. I guess the company was lucky that his parents didn't name him Augustus or today we might be contemplating the ASS 280i. Instead, this 1985 TVR 280i offers a rare in the US look at what the tiny cottage car maker was up to in the eighties, strangely enough, more than two decades since Trevor Wilkinson left the company.
Looking like a Goldfinger victim and featuring more angles than a Vegas grifter, this 280i (or Tasmin) does look a lot like Triumph's TR7/8, albeit pointier and with a set of hood slots positioned above the retractable headlamps emulating eyebrows and giving the car a constant look of surprise. One might be surprised to find a 280i for sale here in the States, and as one of fewer than 1,200 cars produced in total, you're unlikely to see another any time soon.
Underneath the Oliver Winterbottom-designed fiberglass body lies a round-section tube frame and a ton of parts from other makers - mostly Ford. That includes the 160-horse 2.8-litre Cologne V6, here with Bosch fuel injection, hence rationalizing the 280i naming convention. Backing that up is a similarly Ford-sourced 4-speed manual, while out back the independent rear-end features a pumpkin shared with Jag's XK-S as part of a TVR-engineered A-arm set up. Like many small British roadsters over the years, the TVR takes common parts and melds them into something less common and more engaging.
Not only does the 280i maintain the title of last officially imported TVR model into the US, but it also is noteworthy for - as noted in the ad - being the first production car with a bonded windscreen as well as having the rear window defroster do double duty as the radio aerial.
The ad also notes a restitched interior, and there's a lot of stitching to have been re'd as it was all pretty much hand-built to begin with, showing little other than switches and latches obviously sourced from the world of real production cars. This one looks well sorted under its equally serviceable if awkward looking folding hood. There are no shots of, or much in the way of description of, the mechanicals, other than the replacement of the fuel pump on one side, and the exhaust on the other.
As mentioned, the 280i was the last TVR to be anointed as sufficiently non-pollutive and not draped in death trappery so as to meet Federal emissions and safety standards. However in doing so it was saddled with ungainly rubber bumpers front and rear, adding almost a foot to the already considerable front overhang. Thankfully, this one has been fitted with the smaller euro bumper and looks all the better for it. Out back there's still more rubber than a gimp convention, but it's a little less noticeable.
More noticeable is this TVR's price which is $5,750. For that much a buyer would be getting an extraordinarily rare two-seater with excellent handling and a long and storied pedigree. Of course, for that much you could also get a hell of an MX-5. It's now time for you to decide whether this TVR's uniqueness is a benefit or a burden, and whether $5,750 is a fair price for such exclusivity. What do you think, is this Brit a hit? Or, does this TVR's price have you saying WTF?
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