RE: TVR Griffith: PH Used Buying Guide

RE: TVR Griffith: PH Used Buying Guide

Thursday 23rd November 2017

TVR Griffith: PH Used Buying Guide

With an all-new TVR Griffith about to launch, what better time to reconsider the 1991-2002 vintage...



Launched in 1991, the curvy Griffith was a big departure from the wedge era cars that preceded it. Styled by TVR boss Peter Wheeler and John Ravenscroft, it mixed simplicity with perfect detailing to take the firm into competition with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari.


Those weren't idle marketing boasts either, as the Griffith came equipped with a 4.0-litre Rover-derived V8 that made a claimed 240hp. While the outright power output might have been optimistic, performance proved the Griffith could knock off 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds to be on a par with the 911 Turbo and Testarossa.

The arrival of a 280hp 4.3-litre derivative brought with it even better performance figures, yet still TVR charged much less than its competitors. A 4.3 cost £28,965, making it much more affordable than anything else of comparable pace or style.

In 1993, the 500 model was added to the range and the Griffith finally received the mammoth power its shape so deserved. This car came with a 340hp 5.0-litre version of the venerable V8 and a five-speed manual gearbox like the others in the line-up. From rest to 60mph took 4.1 seconds, but it was the in-gear acceleration that made this car so appealing. That, and the noise from the exhausts.


All of this was enough to keep the Griffith in production until 2001 alongside newer and more sophisticated models. Its enduring appeal made it one of TVR's best ever sellers and the model was capped off with a run of 100 Special Edition cars. They have a commemorative plaque in the glovebox, and different rear lights and door mirrors.

While most newcomers to the Griffith will gravitate towards to the 500 to begin with, it's worth noting there's not such a gap in on-road performance between this and 4.0- and 4.3-litre cars. Also, the 4.3 is the rarest of the engines, so has some collector value.

Prices for the Griffith are very dependant on condition and history. Don't be put off a high mileage car, either, as these cars thrive on regular use and careful maintenance.


Bodywork and interior

The glassfibre bodywork was made to a high standard, so it should be free of ripples.


Any cracks or uneven finishes in the bodywork point strongly to accident damage. Many Griffiths will have been in shunts, but check repair work has been carried out to a high standard. Look for overspray and uneven paint matches as a sign of a cut-price job.

The edges of the windscreen can go milky as the glass delaminates with age or because it's been damaged in a crash and badly replaced.

The fabric hood is in two parts, with the targa-style upper section stowing in the boot. The original cover for this is a sign of a caring owner.

Check the plastic rear screen is not scratched and all of the seals mate properly to keep the weather out of the cabin.


Wear on the driver's seat leather is common but easy to remedy. Some early cars had a fabric and hide mix of upholstery, but leather is more desirable.

Inspect the carpets for water damage that points to leaky seals.

Inoperative dials are most likely due to a bad earth rather than a broken gauge. A circuit tester is your best friend to solve these issues.

Early cars have a speedo and rev counter that sweep from right to left, while later Griffiths adopted the more usual left-to-right style.

Engine and transmission

The Rover V8-derived power units are simple to service and rebuild, and there are plenty of tuning options from several recognised specialists.


TVR offered a big valve (BV) conversion for the 4.3-litre motor to give it 300hp. Look for a sticker on the engine to identify this and check with the owners' club to be sure this is a genuine, and rare, converted model.

A small number of Griffith 4.5s were made, but the 500 soon overtook this idea.

Lucas engine management should work fine, but aftermarket ECUs are a common upgrade and can make starting easier.

Make sure the thermostatically operated fan cuts in when the engine reaches 90C. If it doesn't, the motor may have overheated.

Oil pressure should be 10-15psi at idle and 30psi when driving.

Any signs of smoke from the exhaust are bad news and it's best to avoid any car with this problem.


Leaks from the rocker cover gaskets and sump are common and easily cured. The rocker cover items should be tightened at each 6,000-mile service.

Camshafts routinely need replacing at 50,000-mile intervals and this will cost around £1,000 at a specialist. It's also a chance to upgrade to a profile that delivers more power.

Starter motors fail because they get fried by under-bonnet temperatures.

Clutches should hold up to 50,000 miles of normal driving.

Radiators become blocked and cause overheating. An aluminium radiator upgrade is common and something to look for.

The limited slip differential is long-lived, but listen for any whines. The Griffith started life with a GKN diff and swapped to a Salisbury unit in 1994. A Quaife LSD was an option too and, from 1997, TVR also listed a Hydratrak unit.

4.0-litre cars have the Rover LT77 five-speed gearbox which should be trouble-free with regular fluid swaps. The 500 used the T5 unit from Borg Warner, which is identified by reverse being to the right and back.

Suspension and steering


The most important check you can make on any Griffith is the state of the chassis. First port of call should be the outriggers, but you need to inspect everywhere. The powder coat finish can let water in to rot the steel box section unnoticed. Most cars will have had remedial work or a new chassis, but insist on having it checked and seeing receipts for work.

Cars from 1995-on have power steering as standard, which makes the Griffith much easier to live with. Any car that's had PAS retro-fitted needs to have the system inspected for the quality of work.

Worn suspension bushes will show up through twitchy handling and vague steering feel. Front ball joints are usually the first to go. Early cars used Koni shock absorbers, while later models changed to Bilstein, both work well and are easy to replace. Also look for uneven tyre wear or feel for shudders through the steering wheel as indicators of worn suspension.

Rust affects the front wishbones, so check for this. New ones are simple to fit.


Wheels, tyres and brakes

Brakes work well thanks to the Griffith's light weight.

Later 260mm front discs can be swapped onto earlier cars that came with the 240mm rotors.

7x15in front and 7.5x16in rear wheels were shod with Bridgestone tyres when new. Replacements are easy to find.


SPECIFICATION - TVR GRIFFITH

Engine: 3,947/4,280/4,997cc
Transmission: 5 -speed manual
Power (hp): 240/280/340@5,300/5,500/5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 275/305/350@4,000/4,000/3,750rpm
MPG: 24
CO2: N/A
Price new: £26,000/£28,295/£28,965
Price now: £17,500 upwards

Inspired? Buy a TVR Griffith here

Author
Discussion

paulyv

Original Poster:

563 posts

59 months

Thursday 23rd November 2017
quotequote all
I thought that was a Barchetta in that blue! Time for an eye test.

Buff Mchugelarge

3,282 posts

86 months

Thursday 23rd November 2017
quotequote all
A Griffith 500 in yellow was my favourite car on Gran Turisimo 2.
I'd love a real one, still one of favourite cars. So much right about them cool
The gt86 holding 50% of list at 5 years old seems a bit weak when you look at the price of these laugh

givablondabone

2,661 posts

91 months

Thursday 23rd November 2017
quotequote all
paulyv said:
I thought that was a Barchetta in that blue! Time for an eye test.
biglaugh

cramorra

1,513 posts

171 months

Thursday 23rd November 2017
quotequote all
I am waiting for the first it was so much nicer than the new one and only cost a third thread... wonder in terms of dispoisible income the new one might not be 'expensiver'.....
Great car in azurro barchetta though hehe

Cold

5,664 posts

26 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Just a little something to go with those power figures.


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PGNSagaris

1,943 posts

102 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Such beautiful cars. And it was a yellow one parked near my house as a kid that started the TVR love

Will get one next year...but with the original lights rather than the run out special.

Toma500

1,012 posts

189 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Info on gearboxes not entirely true i have an early 93 500 with the earlier rover gearbox .
Not all 500 s got the T5 box .

Wolvesboy

320 posts

77 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Go TVR!
Any TVR draws a look and people always stare - such a rare breed these days and the Griffith is a peach. You either love TVRs or you loathe them - I know which side of the fence I am on!
Good informative article.

Limpet

3,123 posts

97 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Every time I see (and hear) one of these on the road, regardless of what I'm doing, or what sort of day I'm having, it makes me smile.

Lovely things.

fin racer

749 posts

164 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
not seen a 500 in the flesh, but every time I see a Griffith, regardless of the weather, all car windows get dropped. That noise. Brightens any day, instantly.

binnerboy

432 posts

86 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I got lucky enough to drive one of these for a coupole of hours one afternoon.

awesome noise, bloody rapid did not disappoint

I would love one !

vixen1700

10,395 posts

206 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
fin racer said:
not seen a 500 in the flesh, but every time I see a Griffith, regardless of the weather, all car windows get dropped. That noise. Brightens any day, instantly.
You're not alone, I do notice an awful lot of people do that. laugh

beancaker

605 posts

209 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Toma500 said:
Info on gearboxes not entirely true i have an early 93 500 with the earlier rover gearbox .
Not all 500 s got the T5 box .
...and not all cars from '95 on had power steering.

crankedup

18,511 posts

179 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I enjoyed/endured a 4.3 version finished in ocean haze. Fantastic fun with the propensity to throw you into a hedge at any given moment. Love/hate.
That was years back, now I would love another and work on the chassis set up to cure the handling, which I am sure must now have well established fixes.

Ayahuasca

23,096 posts

215 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I owned a silver Griff 500 for about 3 years. Beautiful car, reliable, fabulous sound, acceleration from 80mph to 120 or so was like being shoved in the back by the school bully. I loved that car.

smartypants

36,984 posts

105 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I want mine back frown

V8RX7

16,384 posts

199 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I had a Griff 500 - a great car in many ways.

IIRC they claimed 340bhp, mine dyno'd at 300bhp the operator said that was the best he'd seen - usually around 280bhp

Mine was very reliable - you could rely on it to break down every month - it only had 32k and FSH

After being recovered home by the AA 5 times (all different problems) I gave up and sold it on.




smartypants

36,984 posts

105 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
Ah the old reliability comments, didn't take long smile Mine only let me down once in the 4 years I had it, most reliable and cheapest car I've owned (when you factor in the non-existent depreciation).

I'd have it back in a shot, only sold to finance a house move. Stupid mistake.

vixen1700

10,395 posts

206 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
V8RX7 said:
After being recovered home by the AA 5 times (all different problems) I gave up and sold it on.
Is that all?

In the first 10 years of Vixen ownership I was on first name terms with so many AA patrolmen/recover drivers. hehe





Slight exaggeration of course...




BogBeast

907 posts

199 months

Friday 24th November 2017
quotequote all
I miss mine. A proper 'event' to drive and it never let me down in the 2 years I daily drove it.... Always had its niggles but that was part of the fun.

Wasn't a huge fan of the RV8, if I kept it I might have investigated something else (ubiquitous LS3/6/7 I would guess). Would have missed that falt plane sound tho'

It wasn't practical to keep. If i had had the garage/workshop space I would still have it now...

..sod the housing crises. The real crises it the lack of garage space !!