Whenever something awesome and weird gets unveiled in Europe, our first burning question is always: will it come to the U.S.? Lots of reasons, from the costs of federalizing to our standards and sales viability, keep cool cars out of our market. It’s really quite miserable to watch the lights from across the water. Yet the new TVR Griffith could come here after all.
When the Griffith was officially unveiled last Friday, right off the bat its stats caught our breaths. Five-hundred horsepower from a 5.0-liter Ford engine. Zero to 100 mph in a claimed six seconds. A manual. Rear drive. Gorgeous proportions. The revival of a British boutique sports car company famed for making stuff that’s only for the most hardcore of drivers.
Be still my purist heart.
At this year’s Goodwood Revival, I sat down with TVR boss Les Edgar to find out a little more about the new car.
Good-natured and pleasant, Edgar spoke about Gordon Murray’s composite chassis, revealing that it has a unique Formula One structure with a tubular steel skeleton. Carbon fiber sandwich panels are bonded into the gaps of the skeleton, which gives it a huge torsional rigidity. It performed extremely well in crash testing; TVR expects it to pass 50 mph crash tests as well.
The engine is the same 5.0-liter Coyote engine found in the Mustang, except here tuned by Cosworth to spit out 500 horsepower. Out of the box, it’s not ideal for TVR’s lightweight car. So, Cosworth had to remap its torque characteristics. The engine now revs faster and also has a lower center of gravity, thanks to a dry-sump system. They gave it a lighter flywheel and hooked the whole thing up to a Tremec six-speed manual.
Since TVR just acquired a new facility in Wales, production won’t start until the beginning of 2019, if everything goes according to plan. The company hopes to produce 500 launch-edition cars within the first 12-month period, some of which will be built with left-hand-drive to fit European homologations.
I give you all of these details because, put together, they sound like they could belong to a U.S. road-legal car. I have no doubt that the Coyote engine was picked because of its performance and tuning capabilities. But I’m also sure that the fact that it is a production engine here, in the U.S., was equally attractive.
Edgar said the Ford engine would help the Griffith pass California emissions tests, which is where the company hopes to launch a convertible edition of the car. Oh, really?
When asked to confirm whether or not the Griffith would come to the U.S., Edgar responded that the company would “love the idea” of bringing it here, it just needs a strong U.S. partner first. That shouldn’t be terribly difficult, since TVR isn’t exactly an unknown name in this country.
So, what can we expect? Well, a two-seater sports grand tourer with everyday usability, aimed for the slot between a track-oriented Lotus and a luxury grand touring Aston Martin. Though the base model is priced at £90,000, Edgar asserts that it’s actually worth between £140,000 and £150,000.
“We wanted to bring it back to TVR’s ‘more bang for your buck’ and ‘giant-slayer’ mentality,” he said. “That’s why we needed to bring back the Griffith.”
The cars will start off with manual transmission only, but an automatic or a dual-clutch is likely in the future. Because, you know, the drivers come first.
Inside, the interior is quite spartan and limited only to controls that you’d need. The company believes that fancy interiors only add complications, weight, development time, cost and potential reliability issues.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve started from the ground up,” Edgar commented in regards to TVR making its own path. “We haven’t inherited any bits and a big box that we have to use. We have the luxury of choosing.”