1988 ‘White Elephant’
Having started its Blackpool life in standard 3.5-litre, 190bhp form, the Rover V8 grew into ever more extreme incarnations as the ’80s progressed. As it got more powerful, however, strict emissions regulations became tougher to meet, so TVR began looking for a replacement. A potential answer came from the unlikely source of Australia, in Gm-holden’s aluminium 5-litre V8 – supplied by Tom Walkinshaw, whose TWR team was building Commodore racers for the Aussie manufacturer. The 440bhp HSV unit was mated to a Borg-warner T5 ’box and fitted into a special car built to Wheeler’s personal spec.
The starting point was a 420SEAC chassis, while a 350i coupé body was crisply updated with muscular flared arches and integrated headlamps behind Perspex covers. When it was found that the Rover unit could be made to meet emissions targets after all, however, the Holden V8 was abandoned. Wheeler used the car for two years to go shooting before it became a factory hack then, like the Zante, ended up abandoned behind the works. Eventually sold, this unique piece of TVR history has now been fully restored.
Anorak fact Wheeler specified a bespoke hidden compartment for his guns, plus a special carpeted cubby behind the seats for his dog Ned