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TVR Chimaera

Published: 11th Nov 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Adam Sloman on how to tune this terrific TVR

Launching in 1992, the TVR Chimaera brought a true GT to the TVR range. Intended to feel more luxurious than other TVRs, the Chimaera was cleverly balanced between handling and comfort, and boasted a bigger boot than its Blackpool-bred stablemates, making it the perfect TVR.

Sharing much with the Griffith, the Chimaera featured the same Rover V8 powerplant and also reused the running gear from the Griffith.

The Chimaera evolved steadily over its life time, receiving a facelift in 1996 and 2001. By the time it ceased production and was replaced by the Tamora, it had become TVR’s most successful car, a record it still holds today.

Many of the Chimaera’s components came from either the Ford or Rover part’s bins, such as its Rover-derived engine and box and its Sierra rear axle. The advantage of this is that spares and performance parts are plentiful, and in most cases surprisingly affordable. On top of this there’s great variety of specialists ready to help and advise you.

BEFORE YOU START

Before you set about modifying your Chimaera, check for signs of poor past accident repairs. TVRs enjoy something of a lairy reputation for a reason and plenty have seen an accident repair specialist. Also check the chassis for rust, particularly near the front wheels and ensure the outriggers are solid.

Suspension bushes are prone to wear and front wishbones are susceptible to corrosion thanks to poor quality powdercoating.

A Chimaera that pulls slightly to the left is behaving as it should – if your car pulls to the right that’s a sign that all is not well with the suspension geometry and it’s quite a common ailment.

The Chimaera Complete replacement chassis are available but aren’t cheap at around £3000. Outriggers can also be renewed, but be prepared for the cost – a kit will cost around £1000 per side. Check the rear tyres for signs of uneven wear as this can indicate issues with the suspension’s geometry. If the tyres are wearing unevenly it’s important to investigate and determine the cause – new tyres aren’t cheap and uneven wear will continue unless it’s resolved.

Decent tyres are a must – good rubber is essential to transmit the power to the road and stop you finding the nearest ditch. Yoko Advans or Toyo ZRs are the preferred pick and cheap, non-directional tyres are not advisable.

All V8s should start easily from cold and settle to a steady idle. Check the cooling fans kick in and out as they should. Oil pressure, when warm, should be somewhere around the 30lbs mark. Thanks to the TVR’s old-school V8, oil leaks are common, but shouldn’t be excessive so check your car’s oil consumption isn’t becoming problematic before undertaking any significant mechanical upgrades.

Clutch master cylinders can leak, so make sure there’s no fl uid running down the pedal. Replacement master cylinders are easily available. The Chimaera’s gearbox is a strong and sturdy item, be it the early Rover item or the later and somewhat superior Borg Warner unit, though the later ‘box, fitted from 1994 is generally better thought of than the transmission from the SD1.

Remember the TVR is largely devoid of driver aids, so that means no ABS. We’ll talk more about brake upgrades later on.

HOTTING UP

The Rover V8 unit is a strong, reliable unit and ripe for modification. It’s readily tunable and thanks to its long production span there’s a wealth of information about what does and doesn’t work with them. It was offered in a range of sizes from 3946cc to 4997cc, ranging from 240 to 340bhp. A good place to start initially is to improve the car’s induction and exhaust.

Getting the Chimaera to breath properly will help greatly and something as simple as a K&N air filter can offer improvement.

Smooth bore induction pipes are inexpensive at under £200 and will unlock another 5lb of torque. Ported and polishing the cylinder heads as well as fitting bigger valves together with enlarged intake trumpets, upgrading from 38mm to 45mm, can free up anything up to another 10ft/lbs of torque. Intake trumpets and induction working in unison will result in up to 14lbft of torque and a claimed 15bhp.

The standard Chimaera exhaust can be restrictive, so a good way to free up further power is with a stainless system. The advantages of this are three-fold.

Firstly, improved gas fl ow means more power, secondly mostly stainless systems come with a lifetime warranty meaning they’ll outlast mild steel systems. Thirdly, a stainless system will improve the sound of the Chimaera, too. At around £550 it’s not cheap, but it represents an improvement that will last.

Away from mechanical changes, extra can be made thanks to a remap of the TVR’s ECU. Engine management has come a long way since the Chimaera was in production. Though the V8 may have been built by TVR Power, it retained the Land Rover mapping which can restrict power. Remapping can be done by a range of specialists and can offer effective increase in bhp and torque. For a shade over £3000 fully programmable engine management, comprising a new ECU, loom, coil pack, HT leads, crank sensor and air temperature sensor will remove many of the drawbacks of the standard ware.

The V8 can be enlarged to 5.2-litres, with reworked heads, new camshafts, forged pistons and more. These engines retain the strength and reliability of milder units while developing over 400bhp and, as importantly, over 350lb/ft of torque.

BUDGET

• Smoothed air intake and an uprated air filter
• Engine management remap/chip
• Stainless steel exhaust

FULL THROTTLE

• Fully programmable engine management system
• Ported and polished cylinder heads
• Increased displacement or engine swap for larger 4.3, 4.5 or 5.0

HANDLING THE POWER

Replacing the suspension bushes is a good place to start as they are probably clapped out now anyway. Wishbones can be polybushed, as can the suspension mounts and the diff pick-up points for a firmer ride (if that’s what you want) and last longer, too. Adjustable dampers at £520, offer fine tuning for bump and rebound as well as height and ideal for fine tuning for track day circuit use.

Uprated diffs are available and a Quaife Automatic Torque Biasing Helical LSD. It behaves as per the standard LSD item during normal driving conditions but handles added power better.

Braided hoses are available as are uprated discs and pads. Bigger brakes from the Griffith 500 can be fitted. For track use, consider fast road/track pads. Four-pot callipers are also available – these offer improved stopping power while remaining compact enough to fit under the Chimaera’s standard alloys. A complete upgrade kit for the Chimaera is available but it’s a cool grand. If your car hasn’t power steering, consider retro fitting it.

BUDGET

• Polybushes for suspension and differential pick-up points
• Fast road/track pads
• Drilled and grooved brake discs

FULL THROTTLE

• Adjustable coil over suspension kit
• Uprated Quaife Limited Slip differential
• Four-pot callipers



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