The TVR Cerbera is a sports car manufactured between 1996 and 2003 and if there is ever a car which helps bring on a mid-life crisis, this is it, a proper English sports car.
Prior to the Cerbera, TVR had purchased their V8 power plants from Rover where they tuned them themselves. When Rover was purchased by BMW in 1994, TVR did not want to run the risk that the Germans could stop manufacturing the engine so they engaged the services of race engineer Al Melling to design a V8 engine that TVR could manufacture in-house with a belief they would have something they could sell to other people. The design was a 75-degree V8 with a flat-plane crank. The bottom half of the engine to the heads is exactly as you would see in current Formula One engines. This was dubbed the “Speed Eight” (official designation ‘AJP8’) a 4.2 L V8 producing 360 horsepower and gave the Cerbera a top speed of 185 mph. A 4.5-litre version of the engine was later offered with 420 horsepower.
What we find very amusing when talking to many petrolheads about TVR’s such as the Cerbera the same expression keeps popping up, this being “I love them” “I hate them” and now “I’ve got to get one” a proper classic.
When you are in the “I love them” bracket it was probably because you were a young boy or a young man where you remember them vividly from the mid to late 90s. When you are in the “hate them” bracket that’s probably because you or you know someone who had one in the day as an everyday car when the electrics never worked consistently, there was always a damp smell where the water never dispersed properly, particularly in the doors where one could have stored their goldfish. All this and then suddenly it wouldn’t start!
This now brings us onto “I’ve got to get one” bracket. This is probably because most TVR’s like the Cerbera are no longer used as a daily driver, so no consistent water sloshing around in the doors or sills. Most electrical problems have gone away by means of rewiring and modifications taken place to the car’s earthing points. Many cars now have undergone a full restoration or at least an in-depth refurb which all help brings a smile on owners and potential purchasers faces, a car that certainly creates a buzz simply because they are a good looking sports car.
The TVR Cerbera not only oozes British sports sassiness with its anodized control knobs that is a true mark in their wild Interiors but its smooth rounded design has a great look too, particularly the rear end with its fantastically straight through exhaust configuration where the sound never disappoints. Like the Lotus, the body structure is made from glass fibre and as already alluded to, now these cars are not used every day, the bodywork holds up well for many years, avoiding rusting issues, however that does not include the chassis, where a close inspection is must on a potential purchase.
Overall the TVR Cerbera provides a great experience or perhaps drama would be a better expression. The thrills of acceleration, extravagant looks, noise, top speed, with that outrageous interior can be all yours for much less for an entry-level Ferrari Gt4.
TVR Cerbera prices were at rock bottom just a few years ago, mainly as many needed so much love, care, and attention so you may already have missed the boat. As we write (Nov 18) it’s not surprising that these little monsters are typically fetching around £19,000 – £22,000 for a well sorted, with good history late 90’s model and up to £30,000 for the same but the later 2000’s models. We have even seen them for £50,000 here.
So whether a TVR Cerbera is an investment car only time will tell, what we do know is, if it’s an English thoroughbred sports car you’re after, the choices of Lotus, MG, Triumph are the competition, we know what we would prefer 😉
Until next time
Peace & Love
Quotations are based on a Vint-tro club member
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