Showing posts with label British Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Classic Sports Cars. Show all posts

TVR Griffith

TVR Griffith 1990s British sports car

The seaside town of Blackpool, England, is famous for its Illuminations. Similarly, TVR - the sports car manufacturer, based in the resort - lit up the motoring world. It did so, not with a dazzling display of neon lights - but with the gorgeous Griffith. The new TVR heralded a return to raw V8 power. The TVR brand itself did not need rejuvenating - but the Nineties sports car market did. The Griffith played a pivotal part in that. In five-litre form, the Griffith 500 produced 345bhp. That gave a top speed of 163mph. 0-60 arrived in a tad over 4s. Such fierce acceleration reflected plenty of mid-range poke - as well as gargantuan low-down grunt. The Griffith was inspired by the TVR Tuscan - a pure-bred, blood-and-guts racer. The latter had first appeared in the late Eighties. The iconic TVR Tuscans tore strips out of each other, in a one-make race series. Even TVR chairman Peter Wheeler dived headlong into the high-speed fray. He battled it out with the best of them, in his own racing Tuscan. A fresh take on the company car, as it were!

Design-wise, the Griffith came with a full complement of curves and subtle touches. Most notably, the air ducts - on the bonnet and doors - were cutting edge cute. The interior, too, was impeccably styled. Copious amounts of leather and wood were inlaid with aluminium. Not surprisingly - with all its technical and aesthetic assets - the Griffith sold well.

With its RWD system maxed-out, the Griffith's exhaust note was ear-splitting. With hood down - and revs up - British sports car drivers had never had it so good. The Griffith prototype debuted at 1990's Birmingham NEC Show. To say it wowed onlookers would be understatement. Automotive folklore has it that 350 deposits were stumped up that same day. Which translated to an order every eight minutes! The first production cars swanned into showrooms in '92. The Griffith was designed, developed and built almost exclusively by TVR. Given its relatively small operating scale, that was an astonishing feat. TVR went one step further, though. At £24,802 new, it even managed to keep the Griffith competitively priced!

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type 1960s British classic sports car

The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most recognisable sports cars of all time. Logically enough, its shell was derived from the D-Type. A production racer, par excellence, the D-Type had been a multiple Le Mans 24 Hours winner. In large part, that was due to its slippery shape. Like its forebear, the E-Type cleaved quickly through air. After all, it pretty much wrote the book on long, low and sleek. Road-holding was also a forte. Notwithstanding its cross-ply tyres being Kate Moss thin, hard cornering induced nary a wobble. The E-Type was a technological trendsetter. Its unibody construction helped make it lighter and more robust than the competition. Its disc brakes - and all-round independent suspension set-up - made it safer and more agile. A rack-and-pinion steering system only ramped up the car's smiles per mile quotient.

The E-Type was a Sixties icon. Anyone who was anyone wanted one … as well as many who were not. Rock stars and footballers were especially susceptible to its charms. The E-Type, though, transcended celebrity. When exhibited at NY's Museum of Modern Art, it became a design classic in its own right. Malcolm Sayer was the man who had drawn such illustrious bodywork. Built in Coventry, England, E-Type production lasted from '61 to '75. On the day of its launch, no less a critic than Enzo Ferrari described it as 'the most beautiful car ever made'. A string of prestigious automotive publications found themselves agreeing with him. Doubtless, MoMA had taken note.

E-Type power was provided by Jaguar's 3.8-litre XK engine. Though a bit long in the tooth, even then, the venerable motor could still pack a punch. The gracefully rising contours of the E-Type's bonnet were practical - as well as aesthetic. They were there, first and foremost, to accommodate the dimensions of the XK. The resulting top speed was around 150mph. 0-65 mph came up in less than 7s. The Jaguar E-Type, then, merged cooler than cool lines with prodigious poke. A shortlist of items defining 'Swinging London' would simply have to include the 'E-Type Jag', darling!

Lotus Esprit S1

Lotus Esprit S1 1970s British classic sports car

The Lotus Esprit S1 was the product of a more than fertile mind. 'Genius' is not a word bandied about in the car world so much as in certain other sectors. Most notably, Art and Science. But, automotive design straddles both disciplines. Someone in motoring to whom the tag has been applied is Colin Chapman - founder of Lotus Cars. Chapman was as enigmatic as they come. He could also be controversial - in a way only the seriously single-minded can be. What was never in doubt was that Chapman lived for Lotus. And for cars like the Esprit.

The Esprit S1 prototype was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was a futuristic fantasy … albeit, one built in rural Norfolk! Hethel has long been the home of Lotus - both physically and spiritually. Technologically, the Esprit was impressive. Its 2-litre 4-cylinder engine produced 160bhp in European spec. Its central location spread out the mass loads - helping the car handle. A Lotus maxim was 'Performance through light weight'. To that end, its bodywork 'wedge' was made from glass-fibre.

Chapman's mission statement was to create cars he himself would want to own. A supercar of its day, the Esprit was nothing if not head-turning. Styling-wise, it summed up the Seventies ... teetering, as it did, on the brink of kitsch - but backing up in the nick of time. The Lotus Esprit S1 was glamorous, mercurial - and an all-round class act. Just like Colin Chapman, in fact!