PH Carpool: LS3-powered TVR Cerbera

Name: Paul Chance
Car: LS3-engined TVR Cerbera (was 4.2 AJP)
Owned since: Well, it's been on the road for five years, plus six months to do a complete restoration
Previously owned: TVR 400SE, Chimaera 4.0

Why I bought it:
It was Craig at Dyno Torque's fault really, I had originally had the 400SE and I converted that to a big-valve 4.6. I then bought the TVR Chimaera and swapped the big engine from the 400 into the Chim.

Craig had upgraded from an LS1 stroker, which was a 6.3, and it was sat in the corner and he made me buy it! (I have since upgraded to a 6.9-litre motor). The Chim was death defying at high speed even with my big Rover lump in it, so I decided to go for a more modern TVR variant. At this point, then, I had an engine but nowhere to put it!

I decided it had to be a TVR donor car and - eventually - this Cerbera came up with a snapped crank. So I went to Cheshire to see it and had to have it - the interior blew me away, while its aggressive looks made me think it was a perfect place to plonk the LS3 motor.

What I wish I'd known:
I got the car back to the workshops and pulled the engine. I then steamed the chassis down and inspected the car. It had been covered in black goo underneath and, after I had steamed this horrible stuff off, the grim reality struck...the outriggers where well past their sell-by date and holes in the chassis rails by where the exhaust routed were plain to see.

Not every track day ends well...
Not every track day ends well...
There was only one option: pull the body off and do a total rebuild. I did a deal with Craig to rent a ramp and got stuck in, Craig helped where I got stuck or needed a lift and welded the custom manifolds up for me, I did all of the cutting and shutting of the manifolds, as I managed to obtain an Aston Martin V8 Le Mans car manifold in kit form and adapt it to this application.

Things I love:
It's still a bit of a Q-car, people expect it to be quick, but this thing quarters in 10 seconds, so going to a 'run what you brung' and seeing off 'proper' dragsters is funny. As are track days, where 'supercars' get a serious fright.

The torque is immense. If you squeeze the throttle at any revs and in any gear the acceleration is crushing, but it still revs to 7,000rpm plus. At these revs it sounds fantastic, breathing through eight Kinsler throttle bodies sourced off a Mosler.

Things I hate:
It has been a battle to stop things breaking; drive shafts/diff mounts/diff and even the TKO 600 gearbox had to be uprated after 12 months or so. But (fingers crossed) now it is staying together after numerous upgrades.

Fuel bills when being used in anger are pretty steep, when I went to Bruntingthorpe to crack 200mph it was down to three or four mpg, but if you cruise on the motorway it can nudge 20mpg. I do all maintenance myself and if I need to borrow a ramp or get something welded I pop down to Dyno Torque and sort it out.

Where I've been:
Numerous Trackdays, Run What You Brung at Santa Pod and Shakepeare's Raceway, also Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground last March, where I achieved 202mph.

What next?
I would like to (tastfully) flare-arch the car, as getting the power down is proving a challenge! Other than that, it's not going anywhere for the foreseeable future!

Full car spec:
98 4.2 Cerbera
Chassis rebuild including beefed up anti-roll bar and diff mounts
TKO600 gearbox with uprated shifter fork pads
LS3 block bored and stroked, forged pistons and crank (6.9-litre)
Dart aftermarket heads, self ported
Comp dual valve springs, shimmed to suit cam
Custom camshaft
Kinsler independent throttle bodies (sourced from a Mosler GT car)
LS7 clutch
Emerald 3D engine management
343mm AP Racing brakes
Race seats and harnesses

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Comments (144) Join the discussion on the forum

  • SamGad 22 May 2012

    Ah ha, I was wondering about the bright red Cerb' I saw in Birmingham last week.
    Sounds like a bit of a beast!

  • crusty cobb 22 May 2012


  • dublet 22 May 2012

    +2 for the car;
    -1 for the crappy music on the video.

  • philkermeen 22 May 2012

    Brilliant - you are definitely mad - in a good way :-D

  • 300bhp/ton 22 May 2012

    Very very cool car! biggrin

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