You'd be hard pressed (and slightly mad) to describe any TVR of yesteryear as practical, but at the tail end of the brand's previous life, some effort was expended on making the cars a bit more usable. The T350 was arguably the strongest offering in that sense, presenting TVR theatre in a compact package with a proper boot. It was technically strong, too, with a 355hp straight-six, five-speed manual gearbox and genuinely decent handling. All for a sub-£40k starting price.
Fewer than 500 T350s were built in Blackpool from 2002 to 2006, with both coupe (T350C) and targa (T350T) versions offered, using TVR's Speed Six 3.6-litre unit. The fibreglass-bodied 350 shared running gear with the entry-level Tamora, but it was more spacious and comfortable - while arguably being prettier thanks to its cleaner front-end design and fastback tail. The exterior was styled with motorsport in mind, low drag being a clear priority.
Thanks to its relatively simple technical layout and small footprint - the T350's wheelbase is 2,361mm, just 50mm longer than a Mk4 MX-5's - it's light, tipping the scales at 1,187kg resulting in 299hp/tonne. With peak performance produced at 7,200rpm, a T350 can sprint from 0-60mph in only 4.4 seconds with a manual gear change, and it'll keep on going past 160mph. But what makes a T350 so compelling is the balance and confidence of its 18-inch aluminium rim-shod chassis. This isn't a TVR that bites.
Instead, the pretty two-door model flaunts high mechanical limits, so it really does feel like the track-ready proposition TVR always billed it as. There's enough shove to manipulate the balance via the throttle, but not too much to make it edgy, and three closely mounted aluminium pedals make heel-and-toeing easy. Rest assured the accompanying noise is proper TVR.
That said, the T350's electro-hydraulic steering has long been cited as a weak point in the setup, because it lacks sufficient feedback for you to lean into what is a quick ratio rack. Moreover, the circuit-inspired suspension setup can be harsh and crashy over poor surfaces, which inevitably scrubs off composure at speed and reduces the comfort of anyone sitting next to you. So it's a practical, usable TVR only up to a certain point.
To someone who wants one, though, that's unlikely to be a clincher. Simply entertaining the thought of a T350 means looking past the obvious choices, which include the Porsche Cayman - the first generation arrived in 2006, also for just shy of £40k. No TVR was built to blend in, and that remains true even if said TVR is specced in about as discreet finish as was possible from Blackpool.
Today's Spotted, a black on black T350C, is still pretty enough to turn heads. The lines are not at all lost in the paint, thanks in part to the way the contrasting silver rims emphasise the squat, pushed-out-in-all-corners stance. Nor is the cabin's quirkiness mislaid, thanks to the contrast of black on cream leather. What makes this particular T350C extra special is the 8,000 miles on its odometer; it has less than half the mileage of the next option and this car's condition speaks volumes for it. £40k is practically what it would have cost new, and in 2020 it unlocks a much newer generation of Cayman. But if it absolutely has to be something from Blackpool, there are probably few better.
SPECIFICATION | TVR T350C
Engine: 3,605cc, straight-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 355@7,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 290@5,500rpm
First registered: 2006
Recorded mileage: 8,000
Price new: £38,500 (2003)
Yours for: £39,995
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