In Greek mythology, the Chimaera was a monster mashup of multiple animals. That background makes it the perfect name for today’s Nice Price or No Dice TVR Chimaera, which is made of parts sourced from other carmakers. Let’s see how much cash you might be willing to part with to own it.
When reading classified ads like the one for yesterday’s 1987 BMW 325is, I’m always swayed by a seller’s admission that health or personal issues are forcing the sale. I feel sorry for anyone put in such a position, and I start to wonder if others do, too. I then wonder if that same tactic could be used in other situations. Perhaps I could tell the cop that has pulled me over that it was my health and personal issues that demanded my exceeding the speed limit. Or perhaps I could tell my wife that it was my health and personal issues that required me to eat the last piece of pie she was saving. I’ll start with that latter experiment and let you know how it goes.
How it went with yesterday’s unfinished restoration 325is was not all that great. Based on the comments, few of you shared the seller’s enthusiasm for the car, and even fewer liked its $13,500 asking price. That ennui resulted in a healthy 68 percent No Dice loss.
In the first act of Hamlet, Shakespeare has old Polonius advise his son, Laertes, to “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” The reasoning goes that being on either side of such an equation inevitably leads to a rueful experience. It’s plainly obvious from that statement that Polonius was never the owner of a cottage-industry sports car building concern. Those businesses live and die based on their ability to borrow parts from other carmakers as a cost-saving measure.
Take, for example, this 1994 TVR Chimaera 430. This car snagged its door mirrors from the Citroën CX, its tail lamp modules from the Vauxhall Cavalier and its 4.3 liter V8 engine from Land Rover.
(A quick spelling explanation here: Chimaera is an alternate form of “chimera” that is chiefly used by the British, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Typically, in the U.S. the nightmare creature is spelled chimera, while chimaera refers to a fish sometimes known as a ghost shark. Sorry for the interruption — now back to cars.)
Being a small British carmaker that has swayed between boom and bankruptcies for more than 70 years, TVR has long addressed the issue of such expensive-to-engineer bits by purchasing them from other makers. They then integrating them into TVR’s own cars in ways that made them look like they belonged there from the beginning.
The ’90s decade was TVR’s most prolific, and with more than 6,000 cars built from 1991 to 2003, the Chimaera represents the Blackpool-based company’s highest-production model to date. The car was a derivation of the Griffith roadster, and it shared the same TVR recipe of a tubular steel backbone chassis topped with a swoopy fiberglass body.
Here that aggressively handsome body is painted a bold Tasmin Yellow. That is complemented by a navy blue top and interior. There’s a fun bit of legend involved in the Chimaera’s design. TVR’s then-owner, Peter Wheeler was overseeing the car’s design in a scale model when his dog, Ned, supposedly decided to gnaw on one corner of the design buck. The odd-shaped gap under the headlamp left by Ned’s noshing proved inspiring to Wheeler and was kept as the double scoop well for the front turn signal.
Those are accompanied by side louvers on the bonnet, beneath which sits a 4.3-liter edition of the Rover V8, itself taken from another manufacturer — Buick — in the 1960s. Here that fuel-injected mill makes a healthy 280 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. It’s backed up by a Borg-Warner five-speed stick and the combo can send the 2,337-pound car to 60 in about 4.5 seconds. And yes, the car’s small size did require that weird forward-mounted exhaust set up.
The seller claims that the engine “pulls strong and smooth” and says of the rest of the car that the “gear change is tight and changes as it should, brake works good, the suspension is firm and composed, soaks up the road well.” The engine has just had a fluid change and the car rolls on new tires. While the body has some nicks and chips here and there, it all looks to be in pretty good shape overall.
TVRs have always been eccentric cars, and this Chimaera is no exception. The convertible top offers three positions by way of its collapsible back and hard center section. That allows it to be fully closed, in a targa-style position or all-open. That top is claimed to be three years new and seems to work as it should.
The leather interior looks up to the task as well, with new carpets and seat supports. On this early model, the exterior door poppers are buttons at the leading edge of each rear haunch. Oddly, the interior release is by way of the billet knob next to the shifter that serves both doors. Don’t all try to get out at once!
TVR never officially imported the Chimaera to the U.S., and in fact, left-hand-drive editions are exceedingly rare. Thanks to the government’s 25-year rule, this one is now free to enter the country. It’s a private import that the ad says was brought over from England, so it is RHD. It is claimed to already have a clear Florida title and registration.
That driving position is something that may play against it. In its defense, I’ve driven plenty of right-handers on U.S. roads and can attest that it’s something to which you can get quickly acclimated.
What you may still need some time to acclimate to is this Chimaera’s $19,995 price. OK, now that you’ve had the time, what do you think? Does that seem like a deal for this rare and exciting sports car? Or, does that price make this Chimaera a monster?
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