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TVR Chimaera

TVR Chimaera Published: 23rd Apr 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
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TVR’s bestselling sports car boasts 240-340bhp from its Rover V8 so it’s no slouch but there’s still lots of tuning potential to make one really rock…

The TVR Chimaera arrived at the right time in 1993 and made the most of the sports car boom of the nineties and beyond, thanks to the likes of the Mazda MX-5, Lotus Elise and MGF establishing themselves as entry-level models. The Chimaera was a step up from these smaller engine sports cars, but what a car. Every version from its launch to when production ended in 2003 was powered by a Rover V8, displacing 4.0-5.0 litres and all with fuel injection and 0-60mph times of 4.1-5.1 seconds. In short, they are supercars.

With over 6000 Chimaeras having been produced, there are always several to choose from via the clubs ( and www. and general online classifieds. Used Chimaera values dropped below the five-figure mark a few years ago, but they are now rising, so expect to pay between £10k and £25k, although we have seen cheaper examples at auction or for those requiring repairs.

Originality doesn’t appear to be too much of a concern with Chimaeras, especially if it improves performance or sorts out common problems. And there appears to be plenty of specialists capable of helping. James Agger Mortorsport says “Ideally we like the well loved factory standard models and believe that is where the future larger residuals will be, any improvements are done sympathetically and we use these on many of our upgrades and help keep many projects and customers’ cars on the road”.

Before you start

The biggest problem with these cars concerns corrosion of the chassis, particularly the outriggers and behind the front wheel. Some of the chassis can be inspected from underneath and by removing the road wheels, but it’s what you cannot see that may be worrying.

A stripdown of the car involving the removal of the bodywork (secured to the chassis with 36 bolts) helps to fully assess the condition of the chassis (the factory coating doesn’t last for long). Chassis repairs or a new frame are available through specialists including Central TVR ( and RT Racing. Budget for around £2000 to have a chassis repaired, whether it’s bare or the car is still complete (outrigger repairs only).

A body removal with subsequent repairs to the chassis generally costs from £3360 to £7200. A new chassis is available for between £3480 and £4194, whereas a drive-in drive-out chassis replacement costs between £8376 and £9600. Sportmotive ( markets its own “Evolution” chassis which boasts a much more torsionally rigid construction, computer modeled suspension geometry, billet alloy uprights X4 and improved damping. Sportmotive has also devised a clever ‘in situ’ outrigger replacement which is a jig formed outrigger designed to be welded onto the chassis with the body still in place, saving many cars from inevitably being scrapped due to the high cost of body off chassis repairs.

Typical of many GRP-bodied cars electrical problems can occur, so regularly see the earth points are secure and free of corrosion. Also the wiring in the engine bay can get hot and frazzled while fuses are located in the passenger footwell and can get wet with rainwater.

Hotting one up

That Rover V8 is a lovely old thing but has a number of common weak spots to look out for before considering any major upgrades. Typical problems concern lack of maintenance, which in turn leads to premature camshaft wear due to clogged oil ways and gummed up hydraulic lifters. The oil pressure should be around 15-20lb or higher for later engines, or 25-30 at tickover with a maximum of 35-40lb at high revs.

However, a unit producing as little as 10lb may survive for several miles, but it’s usually a sign that the main and big end bearings have worn, and a refresh or a rebuilt unit is imminent. In some cases, loss of oil pressure, or even high oil pressure can indicate a sticking relief valve, which is easier. The oil supply is based on a volume feed, so an efficient pump and unobstructed oil ways are essential for high tune units.

RPi Engineering recommends using Valvoline VR1 20W50 which is a mineral oil with a zinc additive. Thinner oils are used by many owners, but they have found this can lead to excessive camshaft wear. Oil leaks are common and often caused by blocked breathers. They can also emerge due to head gasket failure. With a duplex timing chain, the chain and sprockets are the main items that supply the lateral location for the camshaft, as well as timing the valves (more applicable to later engines as earlier engines have a camshaft retaining plate). There is no tensioner to compensate for wear, so their condition is important.

According to Tim Lamont at ACT Performance Products, “These cars are prone to cracking their exhaust manifolds on the inside where the four pipes meet. Normally only hairline cracks, but the escaping air can make an annoying ticking sound. We supply a replacement replica manifold for £1032 in 304 stainless steel with internal non-reversal cones where the original pre-cats were located. The main cat in the Y-piece is retained for emissions and MoT requirements.”

Tim has also found that cooling issues can arise with the original rubber hoses blowing-off. There are some steel coolant pipes as well, which can corrode. He sells a silicone hose set for £188 and replacement stainless steel coolant pipes for £62. An aluminium radiator can be fitted to help improve cooling, and costs £360.

Entry-level engine upgrades include a replacement, washable K&N air filter from RT Racing for £60. ACT offers an induction kit for £172, HT leads from £100 and a set of carbon fibre trumpets for £220-300.

It also offers further induction system upgrade packages including an enlarged 71mm plenum, a Bosch airflow meter and an ECU upgrade with software from £918. ECU upgrades (Tornado chip packages) are available on their own from ACT, with prices

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