Under new owner Peter Wheeler, the Blackpool based TVR company enjoyed a good decade in the 1990s. It produced both the butch Griffith and well-received Chimaera convertible, and hit an impressive hat trick by launching the Cerbera two-door coupe in 1996.
This time, the newcomer did not have one of the tuned Rover engines used in the earlier cars, but a TVR-developed ‘Speed Eight’ the company hoped would not only power the Cerbera, but also sell to other manufacturers for use in racers or high-performance sports cars. Not content with the considerable challenge that developing a serious engine from scratch presented to a small manufacturer, TVR also produced an own-brand 4 litre straight six and bored out the new V8 to 4.5 litres. All three engines were offered in the Cerbera.
The speedy Cerbera broke new ground for other reasons, too — it was TVR’s first hardtop and first 2+2 grand tourer. The new model had a slinky outline with a rounded front, long bonnet, aerodynamic cabin set well back, rearward sloping doors and a short back end. The prototype attracted favourable attention at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1994, but it would be two years before the first eager buyers were able to slip behind the wheel. TVR actually described the car as a 3+1 rather than 2+2, as the front passenger seat slid well forward to provide an adequate third seat behind.
A truly astonishing concept Cerbera Speed 12 supercar — intended to be the fastest production road car ever — was created in 1997. It had a 7.7 litre V12 engine, went from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 2.9 seconds and had a top speed of 240 mph (390 km/h). Perhaps other road users were lucky that it never went into production, though a few racing versions were built.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1996 (until 2003)
3,996 cc Straight Six; 4,185 cc or4,475 cc V8
with 4.5 l engine — top speed of180 mph (290 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
TVR returned to Greek mythology to find a name for its spiffy new coupe, this time opting for a variation on Cerberus. This was the terrible three-headed beast that guarded the entrance to Hell, which also happened to be a dog — another of TVR’s little jokes.