May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on May 4, 2015

TVR LogoBrief History About TVR

TVR was founded in 1947 in the UK by Trevor Wilkinson. The TVR name comes from 3 letters from his first name (TreVoR). Trevor started an engineering business in Blackpool in 1946, called Trevcar Motors, later changing to the TVR name in 1947. In 1949 TVR started the process of building their own cars. It wasn’t really until they built their 3rd car that they got noticed while Trevor raced it at sprint and hillclimb events in 1952/53.

In 1953/54 TVR started to build and also offer as kits, their TVR Sports Saloon, which they advertised and used in Rally events to promote the company. The Saloon was also offered as a bespoke product, that could be built to the customer’s own specifications.

During the 50’s more sales and requests for bespoke cars came into TVR, who then expanded, moved location, employed more staff and gained investors. They also started to build their own body styles with the introduction of the TVR Open Sports and Coupe and even exported them to the USA. In 1958 TVR released their first fastback, the Grantura. Also in 1958 TVR did some restructuring reforming as Layton Sports Cars Ltd and Grantura Engineering Ltd.

Unfortunately TVR failed to keep up with production and back orders became a problem, which also led to the company board removing founder Trevor Wilkinson as production manager, such is the case when your own business is no longer in your control. The problems for TVR didn’t go away though, as just about every area of the business was a mess, but somehow they managed to pull through and even get more investors and distributors for their cars.

In the early 60’s Layton Sport Cars was renamed TVR Cars Ltd and the company also got involved more in entering motorsport events, but didn’t have much success with mechanical failures and other issues. Eventually it was too much for Trevor and he resigned in 1962. TVR carried on with its troubles, but also carried on dealing, meeting investors, experimenting with cars, including working with an American Ford dealer called Andrew Jackson “Jack” Griffith, leading to the TVR Griffith being built from 1963.

In 1964 it was announced that TVR would be liquidated. In 1965 Arthur Lilley and his son Martin Lilley purchased the assets of TVR, creating TVR Engineering Ltd. TVR then made new relations in the US and established TVR Cars of America and started to import cars there in 1967. During their start in the business and throughout the 70’s, the Lilley’s were enthusiastic and TVR began to develop new cars, introducing the Vixen, M Series and Tasmin/Wedges. But alas financial issues caused by several factors, including poor reception and sales of the Wedge and the start of the 80’s UK recession.

In 1981 the Lilley’s were forced to sell and TVR was soon in the hands of Peter Wheeler. Peter introduced the Rover V8 to TVR and developed them for increased size and power, leading on to the development of TVR’s own V8 engine the AJP8. Under Peter’s ownership, they also developed a straight six engine (Speed Six). New cars were also developed and built and included the Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera, Tuscan, Tamora, T350, Typhon and Sagaris

In 2004 a young Russian named Nikolay Smolensky purchased TVR from Peter, seeing in the final production and selling of the Sagaris. However despite good intentions to keep it all as British as possible and with falling sales, Nikolay announced in 2006 that body production and final assembly was to move to Turin. This caused outrage amongst workers and TVR owners alike, who protested in London. Nikolay then decided to split the company up and sold off much of the company in late 2006. However in 2007 he had changed his mind and wanted to carry on building TVR’s with the Sagaris 2, but this never worked out for him.

In 2013 a Syndicate of British Businessmen led by Les Edgar bought TVR from Nikolay and setup TVR Automotive Ltd and TVR Parts Ltd, with the intention to keep the marque going.

TVR Grantura
Grantura 1958-1967

TVR Griffith
Griffith 200 and 400 1963-1967

TVR Vixen
Vixen 1967-1973

TVR M Series
M Series 1972-1979

TVR 3000S
3000S 1978-1979

TVR Wedge
Wedge 1979-1991

TVR S Series
S Series 1987-1994

TVR Griffith
Griffith 1992-2002

TVR Chimaera
Chimaera 1993-2003

TVR Cerbera
Cerbera 1993-2006

TVR Speed 12
Speed 12 Cerbera 2000

TVR Tuscan
Tuscan 2000-2007

TVR Tamora
Tamora 2001-2007

TVR T350
T350 2002-2006

TVR Sagaris
Sagaris 2005-2007