1988 ‘White Ele­phant’

Classic Sports Car - - Top Ten -

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

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