This curvaceous high-performance sports car was built by Blackpool constructor TVR from 1991, until the Griffith was finally discontinued in 2002. In the final incarnation, with a 5 litre engine, it was known as the Griffith 500. This sparky two-seater convertible succeeded earlier Griffith 200 and 400 models and, like them, was powered by a V8 engine — a power plant that grew and grew during the course of the production run, and was always loud.
Beneath its smoothly rounded skin, the Griffith shared mechanicals with its speedy younger sibling, the Chimaera. But though the Griffith was the so-called ‘First of the Big-League TVRs’ it was produced in smaller numbers than the Chimaera (which appeared two years later) and is therefore rarer and more desirable as a classic in waiting. The first Griffiths had a 4 litre or 4.3 litre V8 engine. A few of the latter carried the BV badge that indicated a big valve conversion for even greater oomph. A 4.5 litre option was added, and in 1993 the Griffith 500 arrived.
There was then a hiatus for UK buyers as TVR concentrated on export sales, but minor development continued with a bullet-proof BorgWarner gearbox replacing the original Rover SDI box, and in 1997 the Griffith 500’s engine was detuned to give more comfortable idling and better engine control at low speeds. In 2001 one hundred Special Edition Griffith 500s were built to end the production run in style. They had minor detail changes from previous cars and each came with a numbered plaque in the glove box and a Special Edition badge on its rounded rear. And the verdict on this super British sports car? In Autocar magazine’s 1992 road test the conclusion was `so close to being a world beater it hurts’.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1991 (until 2002)
3,947 cc, 4,280 cc, 4,495 cc or 4,997 cc V8
With 4.3 l engine – top speed of 161 mph (259 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
When the TVR Griffith prototype was unveiled at the Birmingham Motor Show in 1990 it proved to be a real show stopper and a large number of orders were taken there and then, ensuring that a production run could be safely undertaken.