TVR Griffith project - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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TVR Griffith project

Hi all,

upon request I'll relate the stories concerning my TVR Griffith project which I've recently embarked upon. First, though, a little history.

For the people in other parts of the world, the TVR Griffith may not be a well known car. It's the car that made the small car manufacturer TVR a success well beyond the UK borders when it was first shown in 1990. Our fellow FLer Vitalone described the car as "the thinking man's Cobra for the '90ies" and that is pretty much correct. It's a glassfibre car with a Rover V8 in front, and was produced in 4, 4.3, 4.5 and 5.0L versions. With between 240 and 340bhp, the just-over-1-ton car is always seriously quick and can be seriously deadly. As mentioned - a modern day Cobra.

When the car was launched in 1992, I saw Tiff Needell testing it for Top Gear and he spoke the magic words "this is not a car for wimps". I was immediately captivated. Raw V8 power, no electronic gizmos, convertible, and one of the best shapes ever carved into automotive propelling force.

So, many years later with some money in the bank, I was ready to try these cars out. This was August last year. I went to the Dutch TVR dealer (not strictly a dealer anymore since TVR went bust) who had 2 Griffiths for sale. One was a low mileage 4.3L from 1992, and the other a brutal 500 (5.0L) that had been bored up to 5.3L and also had received suspension and brake upgrades.

I did not think I would like the 500 - its specs scared me (even though I had plenty of experience with my 485 bhp Maranello). So I tried the 4.3L. If I'm kind, I will say that I "intensely disliked" the car, from the moment that I "tried to" turn onto the on-ramp. The steering was so heavy that I had to use both hands to get it to turn in. And it pulled left under braking. So - I decided to try the 500. What a revelation! The power steering, upgraded brakes and suspension made the thing a joy to drive - inspiring confidence rather than scaring me. It was faster than my Maranello but totally benign with great turn-in and progressive throttle. Within 5 minuts I was chucking the thing like I knew it for years, and that drive is one of the most memorable of my life. Considering that I drove a classic V12 Ferrari for the first time ever, only a few hours later, that says a lot. Yes - it was a good day!!

Anyway - I decided to buy a Boxer instead after driving 3 of them a couple of days later (see FLQ #10). But last March I saw the car was still for sale, and I had been dreaming about that test drive for 6 months. I decided to take the plunge and I picked the car up on the 20th of March 2009. Here are some shots of that day.


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post #2 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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When I bought the car, I was already not very happy with the blue leather interior and the paint was also tired. I had, at that time, the idea of some day completely re-doing the car in red (not common red, we'll get to that later) with black and red interior. But I was planning to enjoy the car first.

Alas, that was not to be. Within 2 days I had a leaking radiator, and when the car came back after 1 month, my brother was driving it back to my garage when, at 4k rpm, the engine spectacularly exploded! I mean, total desintegration. The guys who tuned it in England say that the main block had literally split into 2 parts! This was after 10kms since being repaired, 350km or so since I had taken delivery, and in total the engine had only 10,000kms on since complete rebuild. Very sour indeed. Fortunately, though, it was under warranty, and so the engine was shipped to England to build a new one from the ground up. The summer came and went and still no engine. In October, I started thinking: you know, with summer gone, perhaps we should do this project now. I made enquiries and gradually the idea came together. The people who are restoring my Ferrari Boxer will also be working on my TVR, with the exception of the mechanicals and electrics which will be done by the Dutch TVR dealer, NIMAG.

So, what have we got in mind?


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post #3 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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Well, first: the colour. I had in mind a metallic bordeaux red, but with a high contrast between highlight and non-reflection. In other words - the car should be basically black when there is not a light source reflecting towards your eye, and red where it is. It seemed to me that this would be difficult to explain and get right, but my new-found friends at Auto Rubbio Classica had it perfect in the second attempt. Below some pics to explain.

You can see that the colour looks very black, until the sun gets reflected. When I bend the colour sample of the colour that I chose, you can see how the curve goes from black to red to black. I really think that will bring out the beautiful curvy body of this car. The metallic flake is also nice and large, which suits the aggressive nature of the TVR. I want it to be a distinct red, but with a little menacing edge.

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post #4 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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My friend Henk van Lith of HvL Interiors already had me very relaxed that he could create a beautiful interior in predominantly black leather and dark red carpets.

With that sorted, it was time to talk about the mechanical side of things. What needed to be done? Initially I wanted very little work on the car as I was already happy with the way it drove. However, looking in the engine bay, it was a complete mess. Now, you can't have a car with a new interior and exterior, and then a cruddy engine bay. Here's a pic of how it looks at the moment, obviously with the engine missing as that was being built in England.

You can see that the chassis is pretty stained and worn, and you can also see the cheap crap that TVR used in hoses and electrical cabling. The radiator is brand new (10 miles before nuclear meltdown...) but plastic which also looks cheap.

So as we are discussing options, I'm starting to realise that there is only 1 way to do this project, and that is to do it properly. Take the body of the chassis, sandblast it and repaint. Fit proper reinforced hoses, proper cabling. NIMAG suggested stainlesssteel inlets and an aluminium radiator, which sounds great to me. Steel fuel and coolant lines will go in as well.

I've also inserted a pic of the current interior. When I see that cheap carpet now, I just want to cry! But that will all be good quality leather or carpet in 9 months time.

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post #5 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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Discussing with HvL and NIMAG, I decided that I should put in better and prettier chairs. I sat in a Dutch Griffith with these Tuscan (a later model TVR) chairs, and I decided that I need those. I'm hunting salvage breakers to find a pair - if you know something, please let me know!!!

So, discussing options for the interior, things are coming together. The majority of the car will be black leather. The seats will be outside bordeaux red, inside black alcantara (thanks for that suggestion, Vitalone). I'm still considering options like a stitched TVR logo or a pattern on the alcantara. Carpets will be dark red with black baize at the edge. And to brighten up the cabin, I though the inserts in the door, and the little section around the gearlever and handbrake would be creme/magnolia. A very light beige.

I hate the cheap wooden dashboard, so that will be brushed aluminium a bit like the old Bugattis had. Gives a more sporting look. And to match that, the aluminium rims of all the gauges, gearknob, stalks and switches will turn to anodised black.



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post #6 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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What else? Well, since the body's coming off and the diff's already had 100,000kms of serious power to endure, we will replace the diff with a new one, a proper LSD.

And I think I'll go for a couple of discreet roll bars behind the seats. It's a serious performance vehicle and that roof does not protect you at all. Since everything is coming off, they can be welded easily too.

Finally, I might upgrade the suspension to Intrax adjustables.

Yesterday I got news that my engine has run! It is now a 5.2L, which apparently is more reliable (less would be difficult!) and it is also more rev-happy, I've been told. It produces 330bhp at the flywheel, which is slightly disappointing to me, I was expecting around 345. But I will enquire - perhaps they're still tweaking it.

I must say I'm psyched about this project! It's amazing fun to spec a car COMPLETELY to your own tastes, that doesn't happen often. When the car is ready - September 2010 - it will be completely new. New engine, new diff, new interior, new hoses, new dash, new paint. I can't wait, she will be spectacular to drive.


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post #7 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 10:18 AM
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Excellent

I've seen one in person in CA at one of our gatherings, about two years ago. Was a sight to behold.

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post #8 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 12:09 PM
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Oh my god, what a project Jazzy, the good thing is you won't be paying Ferrari crazy prices, i got a price for 54 bolts today, over 600 plus vat!!!
Love the color change and also agree with contrasting colors for the inside, i have the same blue as you inside and its a bit dull.

check out http://pistonheads.com/gassing/forum.asp?h=0&f=9&mid=0 great source of help if you need it
and http://pistonheads.com/sales/list.asp?s=7 for parts, no Tuscan seats though.

This company is braking quite a lot of Tuscans http://www.douglasvalley.co.uk/resul...&filter=&sort=

If you where happy with your suspension i would leave well alone as they are hard to get right by the sound of it.

Do you have the stupid button under the dash to open the boot that only works with the ignition on? If so i would get them to fit an alarm with a remote button for this while you are at it as mine drives me mad.
Looks like you will have a fun time ahead.
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post #9 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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About not paying Ferrari prices, actually the hourly rates for the TVR dealer are marginally higher than my Ferrari specialist... But parts are cheaper, that's true.

Yes, I do have that irritating button (on the dash, though, not under). We already talked about installing a mechanical release, I'm convinced it's a must.

As for Pistonheads' Griffith forum, I haven't found them very helpful so far. I'm just being ignored when I ask a question - I wonder if it is because I'm Dutch, or that I mentioned I'm a Ferrari owner, or a combination of both... But maybe they'll see what a spiffing bloke I am in future - I haven't given up hope!

W.r.t. Douglas Valley - I've contacted them last week and they don't have anything at the moment. But I'll check back with them. Thanks for all the tips, Grant!


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post #10 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 02:53 PM
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Onno,
Great summary of the TVR project. You certainly know how to do it right. Love the idea of the paint choice. Can't wait to see the project progress. Good luck....

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post #11 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 09:50 PM
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Easily the most extensive impressive project I have seen on a Griff.

Always have had a soft spot for them, mad great cars to drive, there reliabilty has always been a major concern.

You might try this place for the seats: http://www.breakeryard.com/
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post #12 of 241 Old 12-09-2009, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Onno,
Great summary of the TVR project. You certainly know how to do it right. Love the idea of the paint choice. Can't wait to see the project progress. Good luck....
Thanks Barry - it is a bit scary but I'm really bitten by the bug. Suddenly I understand a little bit more about these guys doing these hotrods and other automotive tuning - it really is addictive to change the car to just the way you want it. It's a strange thing - if somebody had offered me the car for half the price it's going to cost me I would have told them to get lost. But when you're going through the project and making your own design choices, it seems it's worth it. I'll never get the money back but I'm hoping the smile on my face will make up for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxer View Post
Always have had a soft spot for them, mad great cars to drive, there reliabilty has always been a major concern.

You might try this place for the seats: http://www.breakeryard.com/
I'm hoping that with this project we'll get the car much better than it ever left the factory, and that reliability problems will henceforth be minimal. I don't have much experience with them but I suspect that because the TVRs are hand built machines they require Ferrari level money to keep them right (except for part prices). And since they get bought by people whose perception of budget is very different, there are not many good ones around. As a good example of that, I had to have long discussions with the TVR dealer before they understood they were not dealing with their regular customer. The amount of times they said "but that will not be cheap" or "you have to realise we can't predict a project like this to the last cent" showed me that they had their fingers burnt quite a few times.

Thanks much for the link, that's a nice site (at least the concept's great) - I've sent out a request for seats and hope to get some responses soon.


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post #13 of 241 Old 12-10-2009, 02:07 PM
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I have never seen one of these. When I saw the pics, first thing i thought was Viper. anyone else?



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post #14 of 241 Old 12-10-2009, 03:03 PM
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have no DNA, but does have some looks to the Viper, albeit MUCH smaller. One I saw, well, as the above, needs a lot of tender care and concern.

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post #15 of 241 Old 12-10-2009, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wetpet View Post
I have never seen one of these. When I saw the pics, first thing i thought was Viper. anyone else?
Viper is much more civilized, but the Griff handles better.
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post #16 of 241 Old 12-10-2009, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
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I have never seen one of these. When I saw the pics, first thing i thought was Viper. anyone else?
Yup, it does have styling similarities with the Viper.

I'm surprised by Boxer's comment that the Viper is more civilized than the TVR. I've never been in either car but my impression of the Viper has always been that it's just a big truck engine with a sports car body thrown around it.

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post #17 of 241 Old 12-10-2009, 11:55 PM
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Hey
TVR's are not all bad, i have had my Chim. [ which is the same as a griff. but with a different body] for two years, only problems are a faulty brake switch which was 3.95 from a ford dealer and the top windsreen seal blew of when i was giving it large on the motorway the other day with the roof down, it had not been stuck down as it should have been after haveing a new windscreen, so we can't blame TVR for that, all i had to do was stick it down. I am touching wood when i say this though.
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post #18 of 241 Old 12-11-2009, 12:04 AM
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Viper is much more civilized, but the Griff handles better.
Way better.

Back in my Play Station playing days I remember the first truly awesome car game GranTurismo had the Griff. That car took me to the top in a hurry with its handling.
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post #19 of 241 Old 12-11-2009, 12:06 AM
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I've seen one in person in CA at one of our gatherings, about two years ago. Was a sight to behold.
I think I know the car you are talking about, isn't the owner Fisal? I think he imported a Cerbera
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post #20 of 241 Old 12-11-2009, 07:11 AM
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When I read road tests in the UK magazines when the Griffith first came out, I though here is a Cobra for the 1990's without trying to look like one. Beautiful lines combining Cobra and E-Type Shaguar brought up to date. A wonderful project Onno, well done for bringing a Griff up to everything it should and can be.

Looking forward to progress and pics as this wonderful project proceeds.
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