by: Alastair Crooks
Alongside the V8 Griffith, we’ve also heard of plans for a bespoke electric sports car and even a TVR electric SUV.
TVR has announced the long-awaited Griffith will hit production in 2024. The British firm was joined by the now chairman, Les Edgar, in 2013 and since then has had a tumultuous time trying to kick start a new generation of TVR cars.
The problems can be attributed to a couple of factors: the Coronavirus is one, but another is the premises in which the new TVR Griffith will be built. TVR had planned to produce it in Wales at a plant in the Ebbw Vale area, but has since repaid its loan to the Welsh government so it could look to begin Griffith production elsewhere. However, the firm also recently announced plans for electrified cars, which could bring it to a wider, more contemporary audience.
TVR has announced a partnership with a lithium mining company to help fund production of its long-awaited Griffith sports car, as well as securing battery supply for future electric car projects.
The revived British carmaker has signed a “funding and technology partnership” agreement with Ensorcia Metals Corporation, a company that specialises in environmentally efficient lithium mining and processing. Lithium is a core component of electric vehicle batteries, and the joint venture provides “significant funding” for TVR to establish electric powertrain projects. Les Edgar, TVR chairman, calls the deal “another milestone in our mission to future-proof our iconic British brand”, stating it “has been clear for some time that EV has to be part of our future”.
“Having access to advanced EV tech including supplies of green lithium via the leading, environmentally considerate process, is a hugely important element in ensuring that TVR will become a sustainable, net-zero business”, Edgar continued.
Daniel Layton, Chairman of Ensorcia, said “along with the current model, we believe the global development of TVR EVs will be among the most exciting EVs on the market. The tight synergy and alignment between our companies and vision will ensure the supply chain for TVR’s future battery requirements.”
It is not yet clear what form an electric TVR would take, nor is it clear what the timeline for launching such a car would be. The firm’s Griffith sports car, which will be powered by a Ford-sourced and Cosworth-tuned V8, is now not due to reach customers until the end of 2023. It was first revealed in 2017.
The new partnership has secured more funding for the Griffith project, with Ensorcia Metal’s affiliate company, Ensorcia Automotive, helping with production development.
The firm’s factory in Ebbw Vale, Wales, is still undergoing refurbishment, but reports suggest it is planning to move in during the first quarter of 2022. TVR has secured funding from a variety of sources to help develop and produce the Griffith, including a loan from the UK Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption scheme.
TVR has previously pledged to deliver its first cars toward the end of 2023, once the factory is completed, but now 2024 is being pitched at the start of production. TVR is primed to recruit and train staff to produce the new sports car to reach this goal, and Edgar, alongside CEO Jim Berriman and operations director John Chasey, spoke to our sister title evo magazine to explain the current state of the project.
Speaking on the early Griffith prototype that hit show stands in 2017, Edgar asserted: “If we hadn’t done what we did, take a brave step and leapfrog a few stages you would normally go through before you produce a road-going thing that you can drive around a track and take up and down the road; had we not done that, we would be in a lot more of a state in terms of timing.”
According to TVR, building a fully working prototype of the upcoming sports car was key to giving customers, investors and stakeholders faith in the project. “We can jump in it and say: ‘We’ll bring the car to you’. You can hear it and see it and feel it and drive it. And I think that’s made a huge difference in terms of promoting it,” said the chairman.
“Especially if you speak to someone not in the industry. You can’t show them a mule car,” added Berriman, who helped bring the Land Rover Freelander and L322-generation Range Rover to production during a stint at Rover Group.
With a 5.0-litre V8 engine from Ford and a Gordon Murray derived iStream chassis, the Griffith has taken significantly less R&D than a bespoke, ground up vehicle in order to come to fruition. However, the key sticking point is actually building the car - there’s still no confirmation it’ll be built at the Ebbw Vale factory in Wales.
Edgar admits “It’s rarely a case of ‘they must be doing brilliantly because they’re not saying anything’. The key thing is everything takes longer, from deciding how to do the car with Gordon [Murray] to working with shareholders”.
The factory is being provided by the Welsh Assembly, but red tape around state funding has delayed its completion. What was initially a refurbishment of the facility became a longer rebuild which began in 2020, and strangled TVRs investment prospects, according to Edgar.
“We got into a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. We explained that our investment case would be more attractive if work was already underway with the factory, and it took more time to get agreement that work could start ahead of our next round of investment and recruiting staff.” The firm told evo that progress of the rebuild would see TVR gain access to the plant in the first quarter of 2022, but whether this has happened is unknown.
“We’re currently finalising how many prototypes we need,” says Berriman. “We need to drive one into a wall, but we’ll also need one for airbag and ABS testing, for example, that will need to be sent to a supplier – most likely Bosch – plus hot and cold weather test cars, powertrain, etc.”
For a small manufacturer, building a prototype for each of these tests is unviable, so each car will take on multiple development roles. The one-off show car took many hundreds of hours to create, but TVR must cut this down to tens of hours for customer cars.
Quality must be up to standard too, said classic TVR owner Edgar: “A car not starting or a door falling off is not acceptable. This was our starting point. It’s why we are using proven components rather than trying to reinvent the wheel by, say, designing and manufacturing our own switchgear. Yes, it will look and feel like a bespoke component, but the switch will be from an OEM supplier, which will have been tested beyond anything we can better.”
Alternative powertrains are also on the cards, with Edgar's partnership with a lithium mining company opening doors to electrification, although hydrogen and fuel-cell solutions are also possible - so long as the final car is a TVR in character. A supercharged variant of the Griffith could be in the pipeline, too, and a mid-engined model isn’t out of the question.
The Griffith measures 4,314mm long, 1,850mm wide and 1,239mm tall, which makes roughly the same size as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, but more compact than the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-Type. Unlike any of its rivals, however, the Griffith is based around a carbon composite structure and weighs less than 1,250kg.
When the new Griffith does arrive, it’ll feature a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 and a traditional six-speed manual gearbox, sourced from Ford. The unit develops 500bhp – enough for a 0–62mph time of less than four seconds and a top speed of 200mph. TVR is also aiming for a power-to-weight ratio of 400bhp per tonne.
As the engine will be located behind the front axle, TVR says it has been able to achieve a perfect 50:50 weight distribution with the Griffith. The sports car will also feature double wishbone suspension with adjustable coil-over dampers front and rear.
TVR has also employed some clever engineering to the way the car carves up the air. Instead of fitting the Griffith with an enormous rear wing or a massive front splitter, the firm will rely on ground effect aerodynamics – it features a completely flat floor which helps generate downforce at speed.
To further boost agility, larger and wider (20-inch) wheels have been fitted at the rear than those at the front (19-inch). TVR also claims that the Griffith uses “intelligent engineering over electronic driver aids,” although the car does feature ABS and traction control.
TVR boss, Les Edgar, describes the Griffith as a “British muscle car,” claiming it will offer “a level of sophistication, comfort and practicality never seen by the brand before.” The model also marks the return of a historic nameplate, which was first fixed to the rear of the brand’s first ever car back in 1964.