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TVR Tasmin

TVR Tasmin Published: 31st Mar 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
TVR Tasmin
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TVR’s wedge-shaped sportster is a great buy and will make you smile!

I’M WORRIED – AM I A MEDALLION MAN?

Well, you did say that you are considering buying a TVR Tasmin! Is it because this sports car represented the epitome of power- dressing sports car style back in the 1980s? But having said that, it wasn’t just all show from this now bargain classic – and they don’t aft go!

THEY LOOK A BIT LIKE A LOTUS

Well, that’s not surprising since the Tasmin was designed by the same team who styled the 1970’s Elite and Eclat. And you have to say that in both coupé and drophead forms, TVR made a more pleasing car, especially the former with its oh-so typical 80’s power-dressing look. Alas, they are built about the same as the Lotuses…

GOES LIKE ONE?

Again yes, because an ex-Lotus chassis chap also put his vast experience to top use in reforming the existing old ‘M’ platform and the Blackpool built TVR handles as well as any Hethel effort, if it’s in good order, naturally.

WHY DO YOU EMPHASISE THAT?

Like the Lotus Elite and Eclat, the lowly values of the Tasmin (and to a lesser extent the later 350/390 revise models) mean that far too many cars were badly maintained and also fell into a glorified ‘banger classic’ category. Like the Lotus pair, you could drive a handful of these TVRs and they’d be like chalk and cheese and it’s all down to how they have been previously cared for. In other words, test drive a few to obtain a decent datum.

SO WHAT ARE THE BEST BUYS?

The later the car the better, because they became faster and better sorted. The Tasmin has been around for 35 years now but there are very few early cars left as most folks steer themselves towards the later mid 80’s examples which dropped the Tasmin badge. In total just over 2500 were made with the Capri-powered 280i the most popular pick as it provides good performance and fair economy. The real stars however are the Rover V8-powered monsters which can be brutally quick, none more so than the top 450 SEAC which is faster than many Ferraris. However, the lower rung 350, 390 and 420 have more than enough pace and grunt, too.

WHAT DOES SEAC MEAN AND WORTH A LOOK?

Special Equipment Aramid Composite to you, which in laymans’ terms means that the body is made from a mix of Kevlar and carbon-fibre. It sounds exotic and it is… Except that few cars were produced from it as TVR didn’t have the know-how back in the mid 80s to make it durable and besides, many crashed cars were simply repaired with plain fibreglass due to their low values. And still are!

WHAT’S THE THIN END OF THE WEDGE?

That has to be the 200 model which was an entry-level line Tasmin relying on Cortina 2-litre power. And out of the entire range the dropheads were the most wanted even though there was a useful and fairly family-friendly coupé which was also available as a tight 2+2. As a good, rarer alternative to an MGB or TR7, other benefits of the ‘200’ are some very cheap prices.

OH YES, I WAS MEANING TO ASK…

They’re not cheap-as-chips as they used to be. Top SEACs can sell for well over £30,000 these days but they have to be concours for that sort of money. In general, most examples sell for half this and the majority go for comfortably under ten grand with projects up for grabs at £2000 or less. This means that they are considerably cheaper to buy than a comparable Chimaera, although most will say with justification because the later car is the better one by far.

WHAT DO I NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR?

Abuse and track use are the main concerns along with badly repaired crash damage. You really need to don overalls and get underneath to check out the chassis properly. Look for patch repairs and rust repairs; some say the earlier cars were better protected because after the mid 80s TVR rust-proofed cars in-house but didn’t do such a good job. Has the car had a new clutch fitted? You can tell because to save time, some, even pro ‘repairers’ cut out a chassis section to gain access to the gearbox and simply weld it back afterwards…

Go over the bodywork and look for usual fibreglass cracking and grazing and be particularly suspicious of a recent respray. Interiors, unless treated with kid gloves, can become very tatty very quickly.

AND THE OILY BITS?

The TVR relies upon a mix-and- match of parts from major carmakers. The Rover V8 is well proven and parts are easy to come by, less so the Ford V6 which incidentally uses a special inlet manifold and not the Capri one. On a test drive, after you’ve stopped having fun, concentrate on how the car feels; does it seem loose and sloppy, suggesting worn suspension and bushes? These aspects are easily sorted although wayward running and pulling to one side could be due to a bent chassis!

WHAT ABOUT SPARES?

It’s not bad considering TVR hasn’t effectively been around for many years. The hard parts can be sourced from respective car makers but trim you’ll have to make do and mend. A new website has been set up by combining existing known parts suppliers under http://www.tvr-parts.com and thick end of 3000 major parts are available to specialists and owners. Apart from parts supply, this new association will provide technical assistance for repairs and knowledge and TVR club members can open a free account benefiting from additional price discounts.

SO I CAN WEAR A MEDALLION WITH PRIDE?

Well, you can drive this TVR without shame at least…

 



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