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TVR Chimaera

TVR Chimaera Published: 24th Nov 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
TVR Chimaera
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

The hugely capable Chimaera is one of TVR’s best ever models because it provides old school sports car thrills in the Big Healey mould yet is civilised and more suitable for modern motoring. Being a specialist car maker, TVR relied on a pick ’n mix of components from a variety of sources but mainly Ford and Rover, making this cut price supercar quite easy to maintain at home.

ENGINE OUTPUT

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All versions used the evergreen Rover V8 in 4.0-5.0-litres in high states of tune that just a thorough set up on a rolling road may suffice. First steps include better air filtration and induction pipes, worth 5bhp alone and enlarged air trumpets before tackling cylinder heads and camshafts. Exhausts are restrictive (typically £550 for a sports system) as is the engine mapping which retained the Land Rover settings. Ultimate is £3K reprogrammable system from many specialists.

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Lack of use and irregular oil changes gums up the hydraulic valve train so change regularly. Head gaskets can let go so are worthwhile replacing before any tuning and engine is a bit of an oil leaker. Camshafts known to wear, especially if oil changes were irregular so fitting a sportier type is cost-effective repair – ditto exhaust manifolds which are known to crack. Fuel injection is a relatively simple system and has no known faults.

FRONT SUSPENSION

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Stock TVR bushing may well be worn after all those years of hard driving now so replace with poly type (especially the wishbones) although don’t go to track spec unless you intend circuit driving. Adjustable damping from AST specifically designed for the car offers fine tuning for ‘bump’ and ‘rebound’ as well as height which – at around £1200 – are best bet for cars being used on the track.

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Believe it or not a good, ‘straight’ Chimaera should display a very slight pull to the left so anything different points to poor wheel alignment or, in worst cases, a rusting or distorted chassis. A four-wheel alignment check and adjust is well worth the expense and will improve handling no end. Rusting of the front wishbones is quite common and must be replaced if it’s too bad.

TRANSMISSION

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First Chimaeras employed frail Rover SD1 gearbox but this was changed to a Borg Warner T5 for 1995. It’s a straightforward swap but second-hand units can cost well over £1000 (or £1860 recon from TVR experts Racing Green). It’s a Ford Cossie ’box with a modded gear lever – you may have to alter yours and different types are available. Some reckon it’s none too strong either and advise stronger Tremec TKO which has a .85:1 top gear.

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It is said that the Mustang T5 is strongest of them all. Best oil to use in the T5 is said to be Castrol SMS-X rather than normal ATF (auto trans) fluid which is recommended to ease gear selection although oil is said to be longer lasting. A poor shift action on the Rover unit is usually down to worn ball joint linkage. Fit a new anti-rattle washer (all in at well under a tenner) from Racing Green (TVR). Uprated clutch kit costs £300-£330 but slave cylinders are known leakers.

BOTTOM END

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If engine is stripped then you should consider balancing and lightening carried out as Rover units can vary in this respect. Plus shaving up to 6lbs off the flywheel helps as it will all make the engine rev better but it’s all a costly exercise at some £3000 including camshaft change. Largest the V8 can be taken out to is 5.2-litres and with suitable cam and head mods can see well over 400bhp and also a stonking 350lbft of torque, perhaps more; best only for cars being used on the track.

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Oil pressure should be 30lbft minimum and always use a quality oil. While some specialists reckon the 4.3 is the weakest link, in general the V8 has a strong ‘bottom end’ although if you intend regular high revs then you may need to fit uprated solid valve lifters, especially if you change the camshaft. Used Range Rover blocks are plentiful from £500; TVR always upped the capacity of its units on paper by 100cc yet are the same capacity as Morgan or Range Rover powerplants.

REAR END

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Uprated diffs are available such as an Automatic Torque Sensing axle from Quaife. Racing Green says it provides the best of both worlds on road or track plus it is robust and has no clutches or plates to wear. Racing Green also sells special poly bushes for the rear suspension and differential mounting points. Super Flex types cost around £100 a set, full Racing Green suspension set £364, road springs £78 and rear wheel bearings under £40.

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Rear wishbones usually wear. Replacements from ACT Performance Products cost £336 complete but the bushes on their own are usually £20. Rear drop links are another wear prone part and cost around £46 with an upgraded kit from Racing Green at under £30. Stainless replacements (front and rear) are also available from Prestige Performance Cars at around £100 a go. Hydratrak LSD (Racing Green) sells for £862, big saving on TVR (BTR) axle at £1500.

BRAKES

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Griffith 500 front brakes go on nicely while a further low cost tweak involves fitting Granada Sierra, Cosworth Escort or Scorpio 24V callipers. Rear discs can be upgraded to vented types using 283mm Ford Cosworth parts, too. Sock upgrades start with uprated pads, like EBC’s for £54. Racing Green has uprated Griffith disc for £72 a pair and better hoses, £55. Full brake kits around £1000.

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Typical fault on little used cars are seized callipers costing over £200 each for the rears which is also roughly the price for a new servo. New pads can be dirt cheap at around £25 on line but watch quality. Hard use can cause standard brakes to wilt but fit new discs, from just £50 a pair from EBC on line, rather than have existing ones skimmed as it’s false economy. Track cars need best spec brake fluid.

TRIM AND ELECTRICS

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Plenty of interior personalisation potential and many TVR specialists offer retrimming services and different finishes. Car Trimming Co sells new mohair hoods for less than £300 with different colours £25 extra. Electrics play up; RT Racing says sometimes it’s better to install a new one and sells a modernised uprated alternative plus a special lightweight type for track.

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Underbonnet heat frazzles wiring and leads to problems. Electric windows (slow working at the best of times) and door mirrors always play up while location of the battery and fuses in the leak-prone passenger footwell hardly helps. Central TVR sells carpet sets for £816 and a full interior refurb for £3120. Replacement dashes are £516 (walnut) stainless at £330.

BODY AND CHASSIS

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The TVR chassis is prone to ruinous rot and while it can be repaired, if too far gone then a replacement is the best option. RT Racing of Yorkshire has been making replacements for 20 years and supplies TVR-spec ones for around £4000 or can rebuild yours for roughly half the price if not too far gone. If you want, RT can also add strengthening for track work for £750 but says it’s really only needed if serious engine power gains have been obtained!

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Unless you know where to look (see your nearest TVR specialist) chassis rot can go undetected and it only comes to light after a body-off inspection. Along with rot damage and distortion are also serious worries especially if you have just bought the car. RT (0114 2817507) charges £6000 to fit a brand new chassis, powder-coated to your choice of colour but just outrigger work (the most common rot spot) comes to a little over two grand. As Chimaeras are rising in value, it pays to do the sums carefully.

STEERING AND TYRES

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On early models, power steering was a welcome option but if yours lacks it, don’t automatically fit the original equipment set up as it’s costly at around £1200 in parts plus is a known leaker. Parts supply isn’t good and you need a (secondhand) TVR rack. A better option is an electric alternative providing the right feel and doesn’t absorb engine power. You see used kits on eBay for well under £1000. Or why not speak to EZ who are the experts in the field and do it right?

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PAS is a mix of Ford and Land Rover so you need to know specific parts numbers including steering parts, which are cheap with ball joints at £35 and gaiters not much more than £20. New racks can cost well over £1000 if you can find one, but you can have yours overhauled. The best ‘mod’ is to ensure the steering is A1 and have the alignment scrupulously set up by a TVR expert. And ensure that the tyres are all of uniform makes and wear rates.

AND ANOTHER THING…

Check out Central TVR’s website (http://www.centraltvr.com) if you want to know how much it costs to make yours like new again. For example, a full respray costs £4800, just exterior £3600 or the chip-prone nose at £1068; a full restoration typically comes out at just over £14,000. Bearing in mind that an average Chimaera is worth around £13,000 shows how costly this TVR can become. However, with prices rising up to £20,000 + for a good example (but you don’t know the true state of the chassis…) it may be more prudent to buy a fair Chimaera and make it good to your satisfaction. Fernhurst of Sussex typically spends £4000 on each car prior to retailing before a 24 month warranty is issued.

If a standard or even tuned Chimaera isn’t enough then TVR experts Sportmotive of Staffordshire (01782 333008) can install a Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine in it giving up to 500+bhp! With the engine costing almost £6000 alone plus all the other bespoke parts needed Sportmotive says a drive-away conversion costs from £19,000. But what car!

 



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