PH Heroes: TVR Cerbera
It was big, brash, British and incredibly fast. Phil James looks at the life of the extraordinary TVR Cerbera...
The Cerbera features one of the most outlandish
But it wasn’t the dash that cemented the Cerbera’s place in history. The car introduced the first of TVR's own engines, the AJP8. This compact V8 had debuted earlier in 1995 with half
The reason is its use of a flat-plane crank, combined with an unusual 75 degree angle between the two banks of four cylinders. The 75 degree bank angle is a legacy of a modular engine idea that TVR had harboured to enable a future compact V12 with common components - 75 degrees being a compromise between the 'ideals' of 90 degrees for an eight and 60 degrees for a twelve. Flat plane cranks are often used in racing engines for improved exhaust scavenging (for power) and exhaust packaging (for space and weight). Ferrari's V8s also use flat plane cranks, but with a 90 degree bank angle, the characteristic wail is entirely different from that of a Cerbera's angry bark.
The main reason a Cerbera boxes above its weight is that the engine has so little inertia - every millimetre of throttle movement has
In 1999, the Cerbera was the first TVR model to be offered with the new Speed Six 4.0 litre engine. With its lighter clutch action, softer suspension and slightly slower steering rack, the smoother six cylinder Cerbera revealed another side to the Cerbera's character, just as compelling but utterly different from the V8 bruisers. The Cerbera Speed Six is like a modern-day E-Type coupé or Aston DB6. In this guise, the Cerbera as 'family car' proposition looked slightly less comedic than those with the bonkers AJP8. Despite being the 'softer' Cerbera, outright performance was not that far behind the hard core V8s.
Cerberas often performed less well in handling contests. At all sensible road speeds a Cerbera handles very well indeed and it is a fantastic grand tourer in which huge distances can be covered in comfort and with ease. It is at higher speeds and near its grip/traction limits that things can get interesting. Your grasp of physics, driving skill and nerve will be tested, and therein lies the challenge of the Cerbera. A Cerbera has plenty of power, strong brakes, fast steering and honest feedback. You have to figure out how to use them to make a Cerbera dance to your tune. Get it right and there is
The last Cerbera built was a Pepper White car that new owner Nikolai Smolenski built for himself, then auctioned (although bids failed to meet the reserve). This car disappeared after the auction then resurfaced when TVR collapsed just before Christmas 2006. It briefly appeared on sale for over £80,000 at a London showroom before being sold for rather less from a northern TVR dealer some months later.
The TVR Cerbera was and probably always will be an enigma. The marriage of a rabid racing engine with a billing as ‘family car’ could only have happened in Blackpool. The often-
PH Hero Rating: 9/10
Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Delorean, Hummer... Everyone had their favourite, and all with good reason.
But nobody else had heard of this Car. I wanted a Cerbera. I had the Clarkson Video, the poster,the literature.
I still have the poster on my bedroom wall at home.
Absolute childhood fantasy.
Wonder whose that one is with the PH badge?
The Cerb is like no other TVR: it's a funny odd branch from the familytree. But hey, altogether it makes the finest package: massive grunt, excellent beef, magnificent roadpresence, decent boot, room for a young family and lightening performance.
I can only hope the lot will survive well. Long may we enjoy Cerbera's!
I drive a safe, sensible BMW 330Ci at the moment but would love one of these. The only thing that worries me, is will it financially ruin me and break my heart at the same time?
I've also been passed by topsparks some photo's from a launch event that took place at pinewood studios which i guess need to be added to this thread.
I'll post them up at the weekend, I'm out of the country till then or I'd do it tonight