Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -


Check the tubu­lar steel chas­sis for rot in the front and rear out­rig­gers and the tubes that run along the sills. Sus­pen­sion mount­ing points will need care­ful scru­tiny too, and look for cracks around the en­gine mounts. Ex­pect a bill for around £5000 for a spe­cial­ist to re­place the chas­sis, and bear in mind that it was bonded to the body­work on Se­ries 1 cars – so re­place­ment is more in­volved. The square-tube chas­sis used on the rare Se­ries 4 is more sus­cep­ti­ble to cor­ro­sion, so tread care­fully.


Most steer­ing, brake and sus­pen­sion parts are Tri­umph-de­rived (although the wish­bones are TVR’s own) so you’ll have no trou­ble when it comes to re­place­ment or up­grades. The light­weight four-cylin­der en­gines means the steer­ing on a Vixen should be eas­ily man­age­able even at low speeds, so un­ex­pected heft or notch­i­ness needs to be in­ves­ti­gated.


Both mod­els used a wide va­ri­ety of en­gines, though none presents ma­jor prob­lems. Look for oil leaks, ex­haust smoke, dirty cool­ing sys­tems and com­pro­mised head gas­kets. All are easy to re­pair/re­build but am­a­teur tin­ker­ing can do more harm than good so check for a lumpy idle or rough run­ning. One fi­nal point is to watch out for V8 Vix­ens mas­querad­ing as more valu­able Tus­cans – get own­ers’ club ad­vice about how to dis­tin­guish be­tween a gen­uine car and one that’s been con­verted. The front sus­pen­sion needs lu­bri­cat­ing with EP140 oil (not grease), so look for a con­sci­en­tious main­te­nance regime. Also check the con­di­tion of the rear up­rights and hubs – the lat­ter can suf­fer from crack­ing of the quill shaft (or stub axle), so get it checked and bud­get for re­place­ment if you’re un­sure of the con­di­tion. Tired joints, bushes and dampers are the only other check­points.


Aside from be­ing on the cramped side, the cabin is sim­ple and easy to re­trim in vinyl if it’s look­ing a bit scruffy. How­ever, it’s worth check­ing that the di­als and switches work, be­cause some orig­i­nal parts can be hard to source; some ex­am­ples have ended up with mis­matched re­place­ments to cut costs. Motorsport mod­i­fi­ca­tions may mean the orig­i­nal seats and steer­ing wheel have been re­placed, so check that the orig­i­nals come with the car. Crusty in­su­la­tion and cor­roded earths can cause all man­ner of elec­tri­cal is­sues, while damp car­pets and a musty smell point to per­ished win­dow rub­bers or ill-fit­ting doors.


The four-speed gear­box is es­sen­tially ro­bust, but reg­u­lar track day or hill climb hero­ics in­evitably ac­cel­er­ate wear so lis­ten out for signs of tired bear­ings and worn syn­chro­mesh. It’s not espe­cially oil-tight, though, and nei­ther is the dif­fer­en­tial; check both for leak­ing seals. You’ll also need to en­sure that tuned ex­am­ples haven’t put ex­tra strain on the dif­fer­en­tial or clutch – the for­mer whines as it wears, while the lat­ter slips.


Make sure that the glass and exterior trim aren’t dam­aged or miss­ing. Rear screens could be glass or Per­spex, but find­ing a glass re­place­ment is nei­ther easy nor cheap so many opt for the lat­ter. Bumpers are ex­pen­sive, even sec­ond­hand. Track­ing down orig­i­nal re­place­ment light units isn’t al­ways easy ei­ther, though rears are com­monly shared with the Ford Cortina MkII, which makes life a lit­tle eas­ier.


Check the GRP body for stress cracks, star craz­ing and signs of old ac­ci­dent dam­age. Don’t ex­pect panel gaps to be mil­lime­tre-per­fect but any­thing too out of kil­ter should ring alarm bells about the state of the chas­sis. Re­pair­ing and re­paint­ing GRP body­work is a spe­cial­ist skill, so look for am­a­teur bodges done on a shoe­string bud­get. Com­plete body mould­ings are still avail­able but cost in the re­gion of £3500.

Snug cabin is a tight fit for taller driv­ers.

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