TVR Tasmin 280i

Every TVR sports car has been greater than the sum of its parts, and the Tasmin was no exception. Introduced as a replacement for TVR’s M series Taimar, the Tasmin pillaged parts from a variety of other cars (mainly Fords) and reconfigured them with typical TVR chutzpah into a pocket rocket of real, if quirky, distinction.

The Tasmin was almost a wedge car. For the first time ever, TVR appeared to be influenced by fashion: the Tasmin’s profile and contours shared the ‘origami‘ (paper-folding) characteristics made popular by design specialist Giugiaro. It was almost pretty — a departure for TVR that brought its own problems.

The Tasmin’s wheelbase was short, but longer than the Taimar; and the chassis still came as the same space-frame built of small diameter, round and square-sectioned tubes. The hood was long for the ‘front mid-engine’ siting, and tapered into a droopy ‘anteater’ nose which contrasted oddly with the cut-off rear.

The effect would have been sleek, but for the stumpy, fat B-pillar of the coupe’s roof. The convertible got round that effect with a folding, Targa-style hoop which became standard for all TVR’s convertibles thereafter. At least the convertible didn’t pretend to be more than a two-seater — the rear seats of the 2+2 coupe were an optimistic joke.

But the car wasn’t. The Tasmin was fast. TVR tried a variety of engines in the Tasmin’s production lifetime, and the only failure was the 2 litre Pinto engine, introduced to offer a less expensive Tasmin experience, but depriving the car of its most desirable attribute. The Tasmin’s good reputation rests on the standard 280i , a Ford V6 that made the most of the snappy styling. Later production versions were said to be able to ‘outdrag a Porsche Turbo’. Alas, price prevented most people from finding out.




1981 (until 1988)


2,792 cc OHV V6


Top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.0 secs


Should you be privileged to drive a TVR Tasmin 280i series II (produced in the late mid-80s), be warned that this model is widely feared as one of the ‘scariest cars ever in the wet’. Of course, you might feel that only makes the experience more thrilling …



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