TVR TRIDENT PROTOTYPE
1965 TVR Trident Prototype by Fissore
One of four prototypes built in steel
The only Right Hand Drive Coupé
Displayed at the Turin Motor Show in 1965
Restored in 1986-1991 and body fully restored in 2018/9 with bare metal respray
Every good car story should include a design or idea being written on the back of a cigarette packet or in this case, a napkin!
In the early 1960’s TVR was going through some financial remodelling and the plan was to introduce a new model that would be aimed between the Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB4/5. In 1963, a Director of TVR, Bernard Williams, met with a budding designer by the name of Trevor Frost at the Derby Arms in Treales, Lancashire, where the first sketches were put forward on the aforementioned napkin. Frost was half Italian and worked with a number of design houses using his Italian name, Trevor Fiore, principally Carozzeria Fissore of Turin. The design was met with delight but the means to pay for such a project were not available until 1965 when two prototypes were commissioned in Left Hand Drive.
Originally, the idea was to use the Mk3 1800 chassis with MG running gear but soon the powerplant was changed to a V8 and so the chassis was lengthened and modified as a result. A Ford 289ci V8 was decided upon as the engine of choice and prototype No.1 was soon built and put on the TVR stand at the 1965 Geneva Motor Show, where it stole the show. After another successful display at the New York Motor Show in April 1965, two more prototypes were approved, another Coupé and a Convertible, this time in Right Hand Drive. Sadly, management conflict and the spiralling costs of the Trident led to TVR going into liquidation in summer 1965 and the Trident program looked to be over.
Fortunately, TVR was snapped up rather quickly by Martin Lilley and his father, who ran TVR dealer The Barnet Motor Co and who were very attracted to the idea of continuing the plan to build the TVR Trident. Unfortunately for Martin, TVR dealer, Bill Last, had seen an opportunity and went to Fissore, who some sources say hadn’t been paid a penny by TVR, and he acquired the Trident design. What ensued was an acrimonious tale of legal battles and even alleged theft but the end result was that Bill Last set up Trident Cars, building fiberglass versions of the Trident on an Austin Healey chassis with a V8 engine. The crisp, clean design was lost through the use of fiberglass and open headlights but the Trident would be produced for a number of years until the business ultimately failed in 1976.
Rewinding back to 1965, to placate Martin Lilley, Fissore decided it was best to send the last two prototypes to TVR. The Convertible (No. 4) would be used by Martin Lilley as his personal car for a number of years and No.3, the RHD coupé would sit in the factory where it would reside until sold in 1972.
THIS MOTOR CAR
The TVR Trident for sale at The Classic Motor Hub is Prototype No. 3. When completed in 1965, No. 3 was displayed at the Turin Motor Show that year, after which it was delivered to the factory in Blackpool where it is most likely that the engine and perhaps even chassis, were used on the production line. In 1972 the body and spares were bought by a Mr. Worthington in Manchester, who later sold the car to Ian Stronach, a racing driver well known for building the futuristic 1964 mid-V8 engined Vixen racer, recently featured in Octane magazine as well is on many websites, who fully intended to restore it but never did. He advertised it in Classic & Sportscar in 1986, where the advert was seen by the current owner, who had fallen in love with the TVR Trident when, as a teenager, he bought a copy of Style Auto in 1965 and saw a picture of Prototype No.1 at the Geneva Motor Show. In his words, the cars driving around at the time were the likes of the Austin Cambridge, so this futuristic wedge design was literally out of this world. To satisfy his lust, he bought one of the fiberglass Tridents which he ran for a number of years. One can imagine his surprise and excitement when an advert in a 1986 issue of Classic & Sportscar seemingly offered an original TVR Trident for sale. He shot over to where the car was being offered for sale and a deal was struck for what was described as a complete body and interior, correct specification chassis, a Rover V8 and a garage full of parts. Most of the parts, which included no less than seven LHD steering racks for MGs, were not of any use. So began a painstaking 5 year restoration to return Prototype No.3 to as close to its original specification as possible.
Work was entrusted to Don Haldenby of DCH Autocraft, Don had been Stirling Moss’s race mechanic and, at the time, still maintained and looked after Stirling’s collection of classic racing cars. The owner travelled far and wide to autojumbles and fairs to acquire correct period parts for the TVR. A reconditioned 289ci Ford V8 was sourced, as was a correct specification Borg-Warner T10 4-speed transmission. The back axle was built up using parts from a Jaguar S-Type that Don Haldenby had in his workshop that was modified to fit and suited the correct track and set up perfectly, as well as giving the advantage of disc brakes on the rear as well as a Salisbury 4HU Limited Slip Differential.
Upon completion the car has been used on high days and holidays by the first and only owner to drive the car, and has been the subject of many an article in a number of top publications including Classic & Sportscar, Classic Cars, Classic Car Weekly and Auto Italia, copies of which are with the car. These articles go into great detail about the restoration and the lengths gone through to return this stunning motor car to its former glory. The car has also been featured on the Cartier Style et Luxe Lawn at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2016, Goodwood Revival, London Classic Car Show and the NEC. In 2018, a minor accident prompted a full bare metal respray with any corrosion or imperfections that may have come to light in the 30 years since the last restoration being rectified and returning the car to even better condition than it was after the first restoration.
Today, No. 3 presents in stunning condition with its extremely low original mileage and extensive history file with invoices and MOT certificates going back to when the car was finished in 1991 and before. There is even a copy of a TVR catalogue that featured the Trident in the future line up of the TVR range. The V8 engine roars into life readily and offers huge performance for a car of this era. Not only is this rare and fascinating motor car an absolute joy on the road, it is sure to be invited to some of the best shows and events around the country, if not the world. It will also most likely have magazines knocking at your door wanting to tell the story of this fascinating car, which would have no doubt shot TVR to new heights and may well have meant a more solid future than that which we know it has been through.
The TVR Trident for sale at The Classic Motor Hub is available for immediate inspection. Please contact us to arrange a viewing or if you have any further questions.
Please note the registration number is not included in the price and is not for sale
- LayoutFront Engined
- AspirationNormally Aspirated
- Driven wheelsRear Wheel Drive
- Body typeCoupe
- Emissions 100 (g/km)
- Vehicle height 1,140 mm
- Vehicle width 1,790 mm
Reference #11107653 | Trade advert