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T350, Tamora - TVRs T350, Tamora

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After a ten-year production run, the Griffith needed replacement.

The final limited-edition 500 model signed off the line with a flourish in 2002 and proved that, even in its dying days, the Griffith could outpace the quickest of a new-generation of open-topped sports cars, typified by the Porsche Boxster and Audi TT. The Griff’ might have been a tough act to follow, but with a Speed Six engine producing 360bhp out of the box in the Tuscan, it was obvious that TVR would develop a smaller, lighter model from what had proved to be a very capable sports car.

And that, essentially, is what the Tamora roadster and its T350 coupé variant were when they arrived on the market in 2003. Both were light (less than 1100kg), compact at less than 4m long (smaller than a Ford Focus), and devastatingly quick off the mark. Once again, it was the headline performance that dominated press coverage of TVR’s new models, even though they were claimed to be the best-made, most complete TVRs yet to emerge from Bristol Avenue.

Compared with the illustrious Griffith, the T350 and Tamora look neat and compact rather than jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The T350 is especially characterful from rear-on but the open-topped Tamora isn’t helped by its stubby nose and tail – even if they give it a great stance on the road.
 
Despite the reservations about appearance, there’s no arguing with the way in which both cars still deliver sledgehammer performance – no matter that they were intended as the ‘sensible’ TVRs. For less than £40,000 in 2002, they compared very well with the considerably slower Porsche Boxster.

Today it’s not the acceleration that first grabs your attention after climbing into the Tamora. Instead it’s the high-tech interior, with the major controls grouped in an instrument binnacle that incorporates a full electronic read-out – TVR was never afraid to innovate. The seating position is relatively high, and that seems to make the Tamora’s cockpit a friendly place. Until you put your foot down, that is. Under full-bore acceleration, it howls like a World War Two fighter, and scorches to 100mph in just over nine seconds.
 
It’s not only speed and noise that impress, though: the steering and suspension settings prove that TVR really understood new model development by the start of the millennium. The electrically assisted steering is well-weighted and responsive, while the damping is excellent. This car feels honed, just like any Porsche Boxster rival should.

Yet sales were slow as the pair failed to woo new-car buyers. A growing reputation for unreliability didn’t help, and as few as three cars a week were being built. As a result, TVR was sufficiently weakened for Wheeler to sell the company to Nikolai Smolenski for a reputed £15 million. Sad times lay ahead.


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