Can you imagine the audacity of buying a car clearly meant for someone else? The nerve! The gall! If you buy 1997 TVR Chimaera on sale at Dougie D’s CarsAndBids.com, that’s it, we will no longer be friends.
That’s not true. Sorry. I didn’t mean that. It’s just, I was recently hunting for a fun, unique manual convertible ripe for an overhaul, and right when I have to put the search on pause to handle some unexpected bills, this beautiful, well-loved TVR shows up and just checks all the boxes.
Is it unique? Yes, and proudly so. Production only ran from 1991 to 2003 and only 6,000 were built and sold in the UK. Even less have made their way to the U.S. But it’s not just unique, it’s downright gorgeous. This car is a Radwood queen if I ever saw one. There’s even an adorable story involving a dog to go along with it’s unusual scooped hood design, according to the corporate website:
Infamously, Peter Wheeler’s beloved German Pointer, Ned, is often credited for assisting with the design of the Chimaera. As Peter Wheeler was quoted at the time “Yeah, he was charging about as usual and took a bite out of the polystyrene model of the Chimaera we had on the table.” Allegedly, instead of being sent to the dog house this creative input was subsequently incorporated into the design of the indicator recesses!
Is it fun? Well, I don’t know fam, how about we take a look at the front end:
Yeah, it’s safe to say this is a car that got a lot of love from its original owner, for a very good reason. This beast is sporting Range Rover’s aluminum 4.0-liter V8, rated at 240 horsepower — an engine shared by other such British classics as the MGB V8 and Triumph TR8 — while weighing 10 pounds less than an NB Miata. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed transmission. Here’s how the seller describes its driving dynamics on the site:
A: Depends on the road, the traffic, and the kind of driver you are. When Doug reviewed the one this year, he said that it drove like a cross between a Viper and a Miata and he hit the nail on the head. It makes 25 more horsepower than a Mustang GT of the same vintage, and weighs 10 pounds less than an NB Miata. When you’re driving normally, it accelerates superbly, handles like a go-kart, and stops on a dime, but if you give it just a little bit too much gas when pulling out onto the road, it will get sideways like a Viper.
Personally, I would get the paint restored in the front just to immediately record my own exploits.
Speaking of paint, you know what’s fun? Green. It was a fairly popular color in the ‘90s before fun and style seemed to completely drop off the map over the last two decades. Green is only now making a recent comeback on our roads, but with this car you go super-green. Green paint, green carpet and green leather to accompany cream-colored seats and center console. Just check out the incredibly clean and green interior the accompanies the Birkdale Green Metallic paint.
Screw that calming beach my therapist told me to picture; this is my new happy place.
Is it a manual? Not only is it a manual, it’s a right-hand drive manual. The thing is unstealable—definitely a plus in the Detroit area. Not only that, the transmission is not the kind of hinky system you might be thinking of when you picture a British sports car. This Chimera comes with Rover’s durable LT77 5-speed transmission.
To add to the charm, this vehicle has a very knowledgable and responsive seller. If you can manage to pick up the car in person in Georgia, seller Hemiwarrior44 will not only give you a huge stack of service notes and receipts, but a 30-minute lesson in right-hand-drive manual driving. The seller says it’s easy, but they’re also a rural carrier for the USPS, so they might take right-hand driving skills for granted.
And sure, some folks might say the TVR is unreliable and prone to finicky repair problems, but that can be a feature, not a bug. A car like this is supposed to keep you on your toes. Besides, one guy drove one 25,000 miles to get drinks on opposite ends of the world and made it with only minor hiccups. That doesn’t sound too bad to me.
It’s got a few bumps and scrapes, but other than that it is ludicrously perfect. It is painful to pass it up. The auction ends Monday, September 26 at 4:20 p.m. ET, so if you buy this, I promise, we’ll still be friends (particularly due to your excellent tastes) if you take me for a ride at least.