We’ve been waiting on this TVR revival for a while. first, there was one delay. Then another. Followed by yet another. For a company that has long made a name for itself by building cars for people that prefer to fly by the seat of their pants, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the firm’s management seems to take that philosophy to heart when it comes to running the business. But they want to convince you that it won’t get in the way of building cars. Not this time, at least.
In an extensive interview with British car magazine Autocar, TVR chairman Les Edgar described fundraising efforts on the Irish bond market as well as new business plan designed to turn the company’s fortune around and launch the Griffith sportscar. The company is looking to raise £25 million as part of a new bond offering that should help offset some of the £45 million it has already sunk into its relaunch.
The company’s efforts to establish a plant to build the Griffith in Wales (rather far from the company’s famous factory in Blackpool) seem to be at the heart of both the current challenges facing the company and its chances to make this reboot stick. TVR executives explained to Autocar that unforeseen difficulties surrounding EU bid requirements and the impossible-to-ignore impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis have made it difficult to proceed. On the other hand, support from the Welsh government, as well as plans for an innovative assembly process called iStream designed to minimize the requirement for specialized tooling and craftspeople, have helped the company keep other costs down.
That assembly process was designed (along with the rest of the Cosworth-powered Griffith) by Mclaren F1 designer Gordon Murray. While the design is reportedly complete and Murray has now moved on from his work with TVR in order to focus on his 650-horsepower V12-powered T.50 supercar, it does seem like TVR still has some issues with the car to sort out before they can start production. Pretty much all of the homologation work, including brake calibration, emissions, and crash-testing is yet to be completed nearly three years since we first saw the Griffith prototype.
That hasn’t stopped TVR’s management from claiming that it expects to be able to built 1000 Griffiths a year and sell them for less than £100k apiece once production gets going, and even export some cars to North America. That’s ambitious for a car that hasn’t had final power and weight stats set yet, especially this long after it was first unveiled.
While TVR does expect the Griffith to finally make it, some of the company’s other ambitious plans will have to wait for later. A promised Le Mans entry that we saw teased two years ago is back off the table, but a one-make series seems more manageable to TVR’s leadership and could be in the cards.
Despite the enthusiasm from TVR’s leadership, the significant hurdles in front of the Griffith are reason for some doubt. The red prototype that we have been seeing for the past three years wasn’t even ready for Autocar to drive it yet. For the interview mentioned above, the magazine had to rely on a factory test driver’s impressions. That kind of lack of transparency about the driving characteristics of a car that is meant to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage is not exactly convincing for a firm that wants to sell £25 million in bonds, but they have clearly managed to convert some.
The company claims they have more than £40 million in deposits from prospective Griffith buyers. That’s a lot of money for a lot of cars. If they can pull this off, TVR just might be the most impressive comeback story in automating this side of Lee Iacocca’s Chrysler. That’d be pretty good for a plucky little shed of sports car builders if you ask me.