A New Concept
the end of the 1970's, Martin Lilley decided that an all new car was required to head into
Oliver Winterbottom was a designer who had previously been working at
Lotus. He was brought in to work on the styling, whilst another ex-Lotus man - Ian Jones -
worked on the running gear.
The Lotus influence is clear in the design with similarities to the Lotus
Excel and Eclat.
References are made to 'Series I' and 'Series II' cars.
The series one cars appeared in the spring of 1985. Subtly restyled to round the edges
off, these cars had new bumpers and sill extensions. The dashboard got an overhaul and
central locking and an electric boot release were fitted. There were dozens of other minor
changes to the car including the cooling system, the engine, distributor, starter motors,
exhausts, steering rack, the list goes on!
However, the story isn't that simple. Cars exported to the USA had
some of the revisions but not all. Original cars had a trailing arm suspension which
was just about adequate for the 2.8 V6 but not for the 350's. TVR developed a lower
A-frame wishbone suspension for the Prodsport racing Wedges that was then fitted to the
production cars around 1984/85 but the changeover was not clean. Certainly by 1986 all
European cars had A-frame suspension. This set up didn't make it to the USA.
As for the 280i, there was a series I, a series I 1/2, and a series II! The
series I had large shelf like front and rear bumpers and black outside mirrors.
The series I 1/2 had smaller bumpers with large foam rubber inserts, colour keyed mirrors
and slightly flared wheel arches. The series II cars had smaller bumpers with hard rubber
inserts which wrapped around the body, colour keyed mirrors and sideskirts on the door
Further changes to the 280i included a front spoiler and side skirts into
the mould. Again, these changes didn't make it to the USA.