TVR Chimaera

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TVR Gold Portfolio, 1959-86

 

 

1992 saw the launch of the TVR Chimaera at the Motor Show. Unusually for TVR, it was almost ready for production when first shown. It was intended as a more practical version of the incredible Griffith which had proved such a great success for TVR. The 'S' models were still selling well but the introduction of the V8 models had whetted many an appetite and once customers had heard the lovely sound of the V8S or the pre-catalyst 4.3 Griffith, it became obvious that V8's were the future.

Click to enlarge...
Steve Dolan's Chimaera
(before the crash!)

chimaera-18.jpg (34568 bytes)
Dave Gould's Chimaera

Both the S and the Griffith were pure sports cars, with little attempt at designing in any practicality. Boot space was limited (particularly with targa panel inside) and the ride of each car was very firm.

It was time for a slightly softened (relatively) car, V8 engined, with more luggage capacity. John Ravenscroft and Peter Wheeler set about carving the shape of the Chimaera from foam models. TVR folklore has it that the indicator recesses at the front of the car were actually a result of Peter Wheeler's dog - Ned - taking a chunk out of one of the moulds. Mr Wheeler liked it, so it remained a feature of the car. The air intakes at the front of the car are larger than those on the Griffith. This is probably to cool the catalysts, which had become mandatory by this time. Dimensions are similar to the Griffith, with the Chimaera only two inches longer, to create boot space.

Fast Lane: "Overall, this is possibly the best handling front engined/rear-driven sports car in the world."

The underpinnings are based on the Griffith, with different dampers, and a rear anti-roll bar was installed from day one. The Chimaera was going to host the AJP8. This was an engine designed by Al Melling who'd had a hand in many race engines in the 1980's. Together with TVR, they set about designing a brand new engine and associated running gear. However development was taking longer than desired, so the trusty Rover V8 (tweaked by TVR Power) was slotted into the Chimaera with a capacity of 4.0 or 4.3 litres. Again in line with 'softening' the car, the 4.0 litre has a softer cam than earlier units, giving less harsh characteristics. A Rover gearbox, Sierra rear axle and a Quaife differential were employed. The Rover gearbox was replaced in later years by a Borg-Warner sourced unit.

The Chimaera is still selling well, and undergoes minor changes from time to time. The latest models undergone the following changes:

  • Front grille replaced with a single horizontal slat like the Cerbera
  • The bonnet has larger vents and is slightly higher near the windscreen.
  • The boot has a longer tail lip and the front indicators aren't mesh.
  • Inside the car the latest have different tell-tale lamps for ice warning/indicator/main beam/etc.
  • The spare wheel relocated to the centre of the boot.
  • Door button is now on the wing mirror (like the Cerbera)
  • The most obvious change in recent times has been to the rear lights.

 

Fiesta Lights Click to enlarge
Before After

 

Over its lifetime, there have been a number of engine variations, all giving stunning performance.

Model Engine Power
bhp)
Torque

Weight
(kg)

Max Speed
(mph)
0-60 mph
(secs)
0-100 mph
(secs)
1/4 Mile
4.0 3950cc V8 240 270 lbs/ft at 4000rpm 1060 152 4.7 12.1 n/a
4.0 HC 3950cc High Compression V8 275 305 lbs/ft 1060 158 4.7 12.1 n/a
4.3 4280cc V8 280 305 lbs/ft at 4000rpm 1060 158 4.6 11.3 13.3 secs @ 158 mph
4.5 4495cc V8 285 310 lbs/ft 1060 158 4.6 n/a n/a
5.0 4988cc V8 340 350 lbs/ft 1075 n/a n/a n/a n/a