What they all lacked was that final flourish of build quality and reliability. After all, if Ford could build a dependable Focus for £13,000, why couldn’t TVR prevent its £40,000 sports cars from breaking down?
Unreliability was increasingly becoming an unbearable issue for TVR owners – you only needed to read any TVR internet forum to realise just how bad the situation had become. Obviously more development was needed, and that required massive inward investment. It was hoped that this would happen under Nikolai Smolenski’s ownership of TVR, and the early signs looked promising. The 2004 Tuscan Speed Six series two was massively improved over the old model – and the 2005 Sagaris (the first all new car launched under Smolenski’s new regime) was lightyears ahead of its progenitors.
It’s a dramatic car to look at. Like the Tamora and T350, the Sagaris has a small footprint but it has massive road presence, thanks to body surfaces liberally raked with cuts and slashes. Never before have fake cooling fins been the subject of such celebration. The low nose and splitter with frankly evil-looking headlamps complete the picture. This is one bad boy of a car.
The Speed Six engine, now in 4.0-litre form, pumps out a claimed 406bhp, which is more than enough for this sub-1100kg sports car. Acceleration? Stunning. 0-60mph and 0-100mph times are irrelevant in a car this fast. Look at the 0-150mph time of 20 seconds for a true indicator of its mind-altering grunt.
But it’s in Bruntingthorpe’s bends and on its rippled surfaces that the Sagaris impresses most. It confidently attacks high-speed corners, where the electrically assisted steering delivers great turn-in with its quick rack. You just throw the Sagaris in and it dives for the apex, never washing out. And we never got to unsticking it, even at silly speeds.
It should have guaranteed a bright future for TVR, but instead the Sagaris could well be the last British-built TVR. In April 2006 the company laid-off staff and announced it would be moving, as the lease on Bristol Avenue remained with Peter Wheeler. Production faltered, then stopped, most of the remaining workers were made redundant, and Smolenski continued to talk about overseas production.
Four years on and rumours of TVR’s return are getting more persistent, yet no new cars bearing Trevor Wilkinson’s acronym have been built. Will the Sagaris be the last of the line? It’s certainly the best, but it’s not the greatest.
That honour goes to the big-noise Griffith. It would be a shame to think we may never see its like again.
All The TVRs - The Full Story - All The TVRs
Rumours abound that TVR is about to stage a comeback. What better time to recall the past glories of Blackpool's best?
A breakdown of TVR historic milestones.
Grantura Mark lll, Mark lV 1800S - TVR's Grantura Mark lll, Mark lV 1800S
There’s an appealing delicacy about the TVR Grantura that shouts ‘drive me’.
Griffith, Tuscan, Vixen - TVR's Griffith, Tuscan, Vixen
It’s a case of ‘more of the same’ for the next generation of TVRs.
Griffith, Chimaera, Cerbera - TVR's Griffith, Chimaera, Cerbera
It’s time to get controversial.
Sagaris - TVR Sagaris
All of Peter Wheeler’s TVRs were blessed with ferocious acceleration, a glorious soundtrack, and price tags that meant his cars were within the reach of hard-working enthusiasts.
Tuscan Speed Six - TVR Tuscan Speed Six
It must have seemed strange that, when the Tuscan Speed Six went on sale in 2000, its big selling point was its new engine
The Tuscan challenge - TVR The Tuscan challenge
TVR had been actively involved in motor sport pretty much from its inception.
Taimar, Tasmin, TVR S - TVR's Taimar, Tasmin, TVR S
Looking at the Taimar and the S3, it’s difficult to believe that more than a decade separates them – or that they book-end the glorious white 350i that’s thundering around our temporary paddock at the Bruntingthorpe track.
T350, Tamora - TVRs T350, Tamora
After a ten-year production run, the Griffith needed replacement.