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Thursday 14th April 2011

PH Buying Guide: TVR Griffith

Help build PH's ultimate guide to owning the fabulous Griff...



The TVR Griffith launched itself on an unsuspecting world at the British Motor Show in 1990 in Birmingham. Swoopy lines and the promise of a 240bhp V8 engine were enough to have 350 punters signing deposit cheques. Styled by TVR Boss Peter Wheeler and John Ravenscroft, the Griffith marked the true beginning of TVR's renaissance as a maker of desirable, serious fast and affordable supercars.


However, the show car was far from the finished. It was based on an S chassis that was at its limits coping with the 4.0-litre V8 engine that would be the entry-level model. With the burgeoning Tuscan race series as another TVR strand, the race car provided a much stronger frame, which was just as well as the 4.3-litre model boasted 280bhp to make it faster to 120mph than the contemporary Ferrari Testarossa or Porsche 911 Turbo.

With the basics sorted, TVR began selling the Griffith in late 1991 to much acclaim from customers and the press. With a starting price of £28,965 for a 4.3, there was nothing could touch the Brit for performance (0-60mph in 4.7 seconds, 161mph top speed) or looks.


Sales got off to a flying start, with 716 of the early 4.0- and 4.3-litre cars delivered up to the end of 1993. Then TVR decided to supplement these engines with a 5.0-litre V8 motor with 380bhp, which sold steadily throughout the rest of its life. By the end of 1997, the Griffith 500 had notched up 1179 sales, while the final 100 models sold in 2001 were Special Edition. These last cars are identified by their different rear lights and door mirrors, and the uniquely number plaque in the glove box. They also use a mix of Griffith and Chimaera components for the dash.

The Griffith Speed Six of 1996 was stillborn, which was perhaps as well due the reliability problems experienced with TVR's own AJP6 engine. As for the Rover V8-powered production cars, there's little difference in value between early 4.0- and 4.3-litre models and the later, more common 5.0-litre cars, so buy on condition and history.

*Thanks to Fernhurst TVR for supplying a car for pics - and Trackdemon for the camera work.

Click the section links below to find out more - and please add your comments to the individual forum threads linked below:

1) Introduction (reading now)
2) Powertrain
3) Body
4) Rolling Chassis
5) Interior
6) Insurance quotes
7) TVR Griffiths in the PH classifieds now...


alisdairsuttie
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Author Discussion

Chilliman

Original Poster:

5,347 posts

46 months

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Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
'By then, TVR had decided to ditch these engines in favour of a single 5.0-litre V8 motor with 380bhp, which sold steadily throughout the rest of its life.'

Er, you might want to reconsider that statement guys.....

treetops

729 posts

43 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Most enjoyable these write ups - keep them coming.

domV8

910 posts

66 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Chilliman said:
'By then, TVR had decided to ditch these engines in favour of a single 5.0-litre V8 motor with 380bhp, which sold steadily throughout the rest of its life.'

Er, you might want to reconsider that statement guys.....
That's what I thought...

Chris-R

736 posts

72 months

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Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
domV8 said:
That's what I thought...
Consider it reconsidered... We knew we'd get lots of help with this one, thanks folks! smile

900T-R

19,372 posts

142 months

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Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Rough guide to real-world power (in my observation) -

4.0 210-225 bhp
4.3 240-250 bhp (BV +10 or so)
5.0 255-270 bhp
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Chilliman

Original Poster:

5,347 posts

46 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
My boggo Chim (OK not a Griff, but same engine), puts out 285 at the fly (three weeks ago), it's a '98 car with 32k on the clock, my understanding is that a 'good' Griff/Chim 500 should be around the 280 mark ???

900T-R

19,372 posts

142 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Of course, it all depends on the rolling road and the conditions but I have yet to see a std 500 get near that. Last RR day of the TVRCC Holland two years ago, my newly built 4.3 on small valves and basically un-tuned, beat all the standard 500s at a measly 257 (PS!) while the typical tuned ones (induction, AMM, remapped CUX) made about 280.

LordGrover

22,089 posts

97 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Nice idea. thumbup

Will try to read and comment when I have more time later.

JamesK

2,082 posts

164 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Early 500's were quoted as having 340bhp, later ones reduced to 320bhp to aid drivability. If you're going to use press pubished figures I'd go with that.

To the extent that there is anything "standard" about TVR's it is accepted that real world a healthy standard 500 makes about 270/280bhp. Smaller variants appear to be slightly closer to their quoted figures due to breathing I guess but "usually" less than the 500.

  • edit* - ahh you have under drivetrain smile
Edited by JamesK on Wednesday 13th April 14:26


Edited by JamesK on Wednesday 13th April 14:26

sjmoore

1,671 posts

89 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
I had a test drive in a Griff 500 many, many years back. Scared the s*** out of me. Towards the end of the drive I was on a 3-lane motorway. It was clear in front so gave it the full beans. Loved the acceleration and noise! I was coming up on some traffic (plus I suppose I was doing about 120+ by then - ahem!), so thought I should slow down. I moved from the accelerator to the brake - and the Griff moved from the 2nd lane to the 1st lane without any steering input! The dealer, who was sitting beside me, tried to fob it off by saying I had unsettled the balance by going from acceleration to deceleration...but I only brushed the brake to lose a bit of speed and didn't stand it on its nose...

...I'd be interested to hear from owners whether this is a known handling trait. Perhaps the example I drove had some issues...

Digga

13,429 posts

168 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
900T-R said:
Of course, it all depends on the rolling road and the conditions but I have yet to see a std 500 get near that. Last RR day of the TVRCC Holland two years ago, my newly built 4.3 on small valves and basically un-tuned, beat all the standard 500s at a measly 257 (PS!) while the typical tuned ones (induction, AMM, remapped CUX) made about 280.
+1

My very heavily breathed-on 500 once made 285 on a 'trusted' RR.

Standard 5 litre cars were seldom, if ever near 270.

Chilliman

Original Poster:

5,347 posts

46 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
900T-R said:
Of course, it all depends on the rolling road and the conditions but I have yet to see a std 500 get near that. Last RR day of the TVRCC Holland two years ago, my newly built 4.3 on small valves and basically un-tuned, beat all the standard 500s at a measly 257 (PS!) while the typical tuned ones (induction, AMM, remapped CUX) made about 280.
Dutch Petrol getmecoat

smartypants

21,731 posts

54 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
sjmoore said:
I had a test drive in a Griff 500 many, many years back. Scared the s*** out of me. Towards the end of the drive I was on a 3-lane motorway. It was clear in front so gave it the full beans. Loved the acceleration and noise! I was coming up on some traffic (plus I suppose I was doing about 120+ by then - ahem!), so thought I should slow down. I moved from the accelerator to the brake - and the Griff moved from the 2nd lane to the 1st lane without any steering input! The dealer, who was sitting beside me, tried to fob it off by saying I had unsettled the balance by going from acceleration to deceleration...but I only brushed the brake to lose a bit of speed and didn't stand it on its nose...

...I'd be interested to hear from owners whether this is a known handling trait. Perhaps the example I drove had some issues...
Sounds like it had an issue wink

Mine can squirm a bit under heavy breaking, but its actually pretty stable.

Agree with you about the "scaring the s***", the day I picked it up was the day I first sat in one, and got taken out in it by their test driver. I was sold smile


smele

1,277 posts

169 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Had one as a company car. Ruined me for life. Fast, good looking, sounds great and a fraction of the price of some other names.

If it does not have a V8 or do 0-60 in less than 5s, then it's just transport to me.




LordGrover

22,089 posts

97 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
^^ Got any jobs going?

vjj

569 posts

124 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all


TVR were optimistic on nearly everything to do with powertrains - not least recommending 0/40 oil for a 40-year-old design!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have had 6 Griff 500's only one of which made over 300bhp - a 97 car which had belonged to a factory mechanic and had the cam timing set up properly on a John Eales 5.2 block with bigger injectors.Also had the precats out and a stainless bespoke system(car now lives with a pilot in Chichester)- this made 318 on Austec's rolling road.
All the others made between 275 and 290 at the flywheel, as did the 2 chimaera 500's I had.

I have it on good authority that the most powerful engines to leave TVR power were the dozen or so 4.5-litre BV specials which that went into special-order road cars (made a genuine 300bhp and were similar spec to those used in the race Tuscans before the AJP came along).

Hope this helps

Alex Gurr

402 posts

132 months

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Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
I have never had such mixed emotions about a car before....I loved and hated my old 500 with equal zeal.

It went quite well, although no way near as well as a supposed 320bhp 1100kg car should (we all know why), sounded like thunder and looked stunning. It broke down a lot and handled like a crock of sh*t though and always smelt damp inside no matter what I did.

Basically it was under developed. For those guys prepared to spend time doing the rest of TVR's development and sorting their cars out, they can be an absolute joy, but I lost confidence in it after a while and just had to give it up, after a full engine re-build! On many a nice day I wish I had stuck with it, because I think it is like many a classic British sports car....more character than ability, but so wonderful with it....but I don't think I will ever go back to one more is the shame!

Edmundo2

547 posts

95 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Absolutely loved mine. With a full engine rebuild, sorted brakes, uprated shocks, new bushes, new tyres, etc..it was bloody great and went/stopped/handled very well! Never broke down + always made me smile. Whole heartedly recommend them but at same time recommend attending/upgrading all the bits essential to getting the best out of any performance car, ( examples of griffs that aren't sorted will scare the sh*t out of you! ).

Jasper Gilder

2,027 posts

158 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
I had four and would have had more except for seduction by the siren voice
whispering Cerbera, Cerbera..

Few factual errors - the entry level was 4.0 not 4.3 and no Griffs were built in 1993 as the pre Dec 1992 cars were uncatted and it took a year to develop the 500 with the power sapping cats. My 4 litre was registered on 23 Dec 1992 ( but probably built a little later....)

I wrote the 4 litre off on a patch of diesel on a wet Monday morning and then had 3 500s, all yellow and the quickest was the 500HC which had previously been owned by Nigel Tustain who used to come about last in every Tuscan race.
I calculated I'd done about 150,000 miles over the four with the middle two going well into the 60s - one before it had had an MOT!

How many people out there have a starcrack on the rear wing, passenger side - level with the rear axle line? Most Griffs have

RichB

30,126 posts

169 months

[news] 
Wednesday 13th April 2011 quote quote all
Jasper Gilder said:
How many people out there have a starcrack on the rear wing, passenger side - level with the rear axle line? Most Griffs have
No, why?
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