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TR Supercars Speed 12 Turbo: Showpiece of the Week

The car once declared "too powerful for public roads" is back, with even more power - and a price tag to match

By Dafydd Wood / Monday, February 25, 2019

Les Edgar's new TVR venture hasn't exactly gotten off to the smoothest of starts. Not only should production already be well underway, yet for a number of reasons still hasn't gotten going, but the car itself has also met with a mixed reception. Following its unveiling at the 2017 Goodwood Revival, many claimed the design to be too mild-mannered for the famously hot-blooded marque and, if the comments are anything to go by, arriving at last summer's Classic British Welcome alongside a Sagaris did nothing to convince the doubters.

The bonkers spirit that those fans remember is still alive and well, though, even if they don't recognise it in the company's current output. That's thanks to a group of former TVR employees who have themselves set out to finish what they started over 20 years ago, with a modern homage to the legendary Speed 12.

Originally proposed as a GT1 racer, the Speed 12 was designed to compete at Le Mans, but due to regulation changes never made it beyond a few rounds of the FIA's GT Championship. Repurposed as a road car and freed from the limitations of competition rules, the prototype machine weighed just 1,000kg, produced a factory-claimed 810hp (although it was estimated to be in excess of 950hp in reality) and was said to be capable of a McLaren F1-beating top speed greater than 240mph. According to TVR lore, time was eventually called on the Speed 12 project when company owner Peter Wheeler drove the prototype home one evening, he is said to have declared it "too powerful for public roads", pulling the plug and cementing its legendary status amongst enthusiasts.

Which brings us to this week's Showpiece. Under the banner of TR Supercars, Lancashire-based Helical Engineering has attempted to bring the Speed 12 into the 21st century using modern materials, processes and technologies. And this is what they've come up with: the Speed 12 Turbo. The new car boasts a fully customisable set-up, featuring a carbon fibre and aluminium honeycomb cockpit structure, a modular tubular steel chassis/cage, carbon fibre bodywork, adjustable rose jointed suspension, centre-locking wheels, carbon-ceramic brakes and a titanium exhaust system.

All of that is based around a twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre Aston Martin-derived V12 engine. Producing 1,025hp and 615lb ft of torque on its way to an 8,750rpm redline, it propels the Speed 12 Turbo to 62mph in 2.9 seconds, to 120mph in 9.8 seconds and eventually to a top speed of over 218mph. At 1,282kg the car has gained a little weight versus the original - along with traction and launch control - but with its strikingly aggressive styling, six-speed manual transmission and mindblowing performance, it's fair to say it seems to have remained true to its roots.

One example of the original Speed 12 did actually find its way into a customer's hands when, in 2003, TVR paired the carbon fibre bodyshell from one of its racers with the remaining components of its completed prototype. With the buyer personally vetted by Peter Wheeler himself, the car entered the public domain for the first and only time. Until now, that is. The £1.2 million price tag may seem an ungodly sum, but with TR Supercars set to produce only a handful of these blasts from the past, there are sure to be more than a few people who deem it a small price to pay to experience the company that TVR could once have been.

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