Friday 31st October 2003


T350T

The T350 with the removable roof - fab or folly?

I reviewed the T350 Coupe when it first his the streets back in December last year - yes it's that long ago. I was fortunate enough to drive one of the first cars, with just delivery mileage on it. Despite driving with one eye on the rev counter the potency of the car and the incredible rigidity was plain to experience.

The same can be said of the new T350T. Despite much cynicism about whether such a model would ever materialise - me included! - the car is very much a reality now and here just in time for some autumnal blasts.

On the Road

Behind the wheel again - and once again reigned in by a running in rev limit - I took to the winding roads near Racing Green's premises in Hampshire. Despite the 3000 rpm limit, despite the wet leaves on the roads and despite the numpty in the Nissan impersonating a snail, it was still great to get behind the wheel again.

The T350 (please go back to names TVR!)  is a pleasant reminder of how far TVR have come in recent years. The door may be glass fibre, but it shuts with a reassuring clunk. The handling is crisp and well balanced. It's an easy car to drive with light controls. This is not a car simply for beefy blokes with big arms to twirl around correcting manic oversteer - it's a car that should appeal to a wide cross section of enthusiasts. And as for oversteer, the car handles like a dream - when the rear steps out it takes just a dab of steering or throttle to keep it there or rein it back in. Drama is no longer compulsory.

It's a small car and certainly one you'd happily use for a daily commute. Bimbling about in the towns and villages, mini roundabouts and zebra crossings isn't a matter of threading a beast through a china shop, it's more like a cat confidently slinking about. It's light and easy to manouvre and towns simply serve as a minor delay until you can wind things up on the open road again.

That Roof

The point of sampling the T350 again was to check out the roof. Again, there are plenty of critics who have already piled in with criticisms that it's unsightly, bound to leak and a botched afterthought on an otherwise pretty car.

I'm pleased to say that it's not though. yes, the panels are pronounced but they're in keeping with the curvaceous lines of the rest of the car and certainly don't look out of proportion. The good news is also that they are large. Whipping them out leaves most of the roof missing. A central bar remains as does the tubing over the doors and windscreen, but there's an enormous amount of sky in view nevertheless. That central strut also ensures none of the rigidity is lost. The small chassis complete with roll over protection provides a stiffness not experienced in any other TVR nor many cars this side of a 911 GT3.

Whipping 'em Out

The panels are secured by some simple spring loaded catches which pull the panels down flush onto the roof and are very unlikely to result in any leaks. They're easy to operate although apparently the catches to the side of the car are to be moved to the front to prevent you banging your head against them! The panels are carbon fibre and as a result extremely light. They just go in the boot when not on the roof.

And as for buffeting, well there isn't any. Obviously it's not a full convertible so the experience isn't quite the same, but it's surprisingly quiet yet airy. On a chilly autumn day we had the panels out, enjoyed a bit of fresh air and plenty of daylight but didn't have to wrap up like eskimos. Cruising through Camberley I could just picture myself in the south of France enjoying this car...

The price of daylight and fresh air is an extra 2K over the 38,500 T350C. 2000 is a lot of money, but if I was in the market for a T350 I'd certainly be tempted to go the whole hog and go for 'T'. It makes the T350 an ideal car for all year round. Now if only they could do the same with a Cerbera...

Thanks to www.racinggreentvr.com for the loan of the car

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