|Headquarters||Blackpool, United Kingdom|
|Products||Automobiles, Automotive parts|
TVR was an independent British manufacturer of sports cars. Until 2006 it was based in the English seaside town of Blackpool, Lancashire, but has since split up into several smaller subsidiaries and has been relocated elsewhere. The company manufactured lightweight sports cars with powerful engines and was, at one time, the third-largest specialised sports car manufacturer in the world, offering a diverse range of coupés and convertibles. Most vehicles use an in-house straight-6 cylinder engine design; others an in-house V8. TVR sports cars are composed of tubular steel frames, cloaked in fibreglass bodywork.
TVR's two arms were TVR Engineering, which manufactures sports cars and grand tourers, and TVR Power, their powertrain division. The company has had a turbulent recent history and had not made any new cars since 2006.
In July 2012, owner Nikolay Smolensky announced that despite analysing various potential plans to create a new car, building a new TVR model was not going to be financially viable, thus bringing TVR's existence as a car manufacturer to an end.
The history of TVR can be divided into several eras, each of which is associated with the company's owner at the start of that period. These owners are Trevor Wilkinson, Martin Lilley, Peter Wheeler, and Nikolay Smolensky.
Trevor Wilkinson (14 May 1923–6 June 2008)was born in Blackpool and left school at 14 to start an engineering apprenticeship at a local garage.
In 1946, he purchased an old wheelwright's workshop in Beverely Grove, Blackpool, to start an engineering business that he named Trevcar Motors. Initially, the company performed general engineering work (not always automobile related), and would also refresh and service cars and trucks. In 1947, local auto enthusiast Jack Pickard jointed the company. Trevcar Motors was subsequently renamed to TVR Engineering (dropping the vowels from Wilkinson's first name), and it continued to find general mechanical engineering work through the following years.
One-off specials: TVR One, Two, and Three (1949-1953)
In 1949, TVR built its first original chassis. The Hotchkiss-style rear suspension used the live axle from a Morris Eight, and the front suspension was of an independent trailing-arm design. The engine was a Ford 1172cc sidevalve from a 1936 van, tuned to 35 hp. Even before the car was bodied, it was crashed by the man hired to create the bodywork, Les Dale. After repairs, the body was styled and built from aluminum, and was painted British racing green. Although neither Wilkinson nor Pickard found the finished bodywork to be very aesthetically appealing, it was functional, and the two men conducted the first successful test drive on the runway at Squires Gate aerodrome in 1949. Later that year, TVR Number One was sold to Wilkinson's cousin for £325. It was later crashed and salvaged for parts.
TVR Number Two began with the same chassis design found on the first car, using the rear axle, springs, dampers, brakes, and steering from the Morris Eight, as well as the same sidevalve Ford engine. However, the front suspension design was changed to use wishbone control arms and a single transverse leaf spring. The bodywork was again constructed by Les Dale, and it was similar in appearance to the first car. An auto enthusiast local to Blackpool purchased the car for use in competition, although it was eventually registered for road use in 1952. Around this time, the car was refreshed: it received a new body style with a lower nose, and some different instrumentation and equipment (including a tachometer from a Supermarine Spitfire and Marchal headlamps from a Delage.
After the sale of the Number Two car, TVR began work on Number Three, which again used the same chassis and suspension design. Instead of the sidevalve Ford engine, it was fitted with the 1200cc 40 hp OHV four-cylinder engine from an Austin A40. This car was painted yellow, and in contrast to the rounded bodywork of the first and second cars, it was styled with a blunt nose and a squarish vertical panel as the grille. Driven by Wilkinson in a number of car club events (such as sprints and hillclimbs) in 1952 and 1953, the car was quick enough to earn several awards. It was during these club events that one David Hives was introduced to the TVR management, and he would become a key TVR employee a decade later.
Sports Saloon (1953-1955)
In the summer of 1953, Wilkinson and Pickard began working on the design of a new chassis, which was intended to accept the engine, gearbox, and other components from the Austin A40 (including the independent coil-spring front suspension and rear axle.) Significantly, it did not incorporate an upper body frame, and the engineers intended to provide the car for sale as a kit with a fiberglass body. Approximately twenty of these chassis were built, although only three were purchased as a kit with the fiberglass bodyshell that Wilkinson had originally selected; these three cars used an RGS Atalanta body manufactured by special builder Richard G. Shattock. With the Atalanta body included in the kit, the car was named the "TVR Sports Saloon". The kit was first offered for sale in 1954 for £650. It was with this car that TVR first produced a brochure to advertise a product: it quoted some figures, such as the car's 1400 lb weight and 0-60 mph time of 13 seconds. It was also on the Sports Saloon that the first incarnation of TVR's badge appeared, designed by a young art student and Wilkinson's friend, John Cookson.
The first Sports Saloon was finished in spring 1954, and Wilkinson first campaigned it in the Morecambe Rally from May 21 to 23. He used it it a number of other events to increase exposure to TVR's products, and would drive the car regularly in competition and on the road over the next eight years.
The chassis built by TVR were all provided to customer specification, and therefore no two of them left the factory in exactly the same configuration. The extra exposure created by using the Sports Saloon in competition led to potential customers inquiring about the availability of other body styles. TVR sold kits with Microplas Mistal bodies, and at least two different styles from Rochdale Motor Panels & Engineering Ltd. The engines fitted were typically the Ford 1172cc sidevalve or Austin A40 1200cc OHV. There was at least one instance of a car being fitted with the 1489cc BMC B-Series engine (as fitted to the MGA), and one chassis was built to accommodate a customer's 2½-liter Lea-Francis engine.
Ray Saidel and the Jomar
In 1955, the company started development of new semi-spaceframe chassis with a central backbone. This chassis used outriggers and a steel bulkhead to carry mounting points for doors. In contrast to the earlier chassis, the new design allowed for the seats to be mounted low (six inches from the ground) on either side of the backbone tunnel. The trailing arm suspension from the Volkswagen Beetle was used for both the front and rear suspension, setting the precedent of all-independent suspension for TVRs in the future.
Later in that year, TVR Engineering received a letter (dated August 29) from one Ray Saidel in Manchester, New Hampshire. Saidel was a successful racing driver and owned the Merrimack Street Garage in Manchester. He indicated that he would be interested in purchasing a TVR chassis fitted with a Coventry Climax FWA engine. TVR completed the chassis in May 1956, and it had arrived in New Hampshire by June of that year, where it was given an aluminum body. This car was the first of several to be designated "Jomar Mk2" (the name being derived from Saidel's children, Joanna and Marc, and the fact that this generation of the car was the second after the first Dellow-chassis Jomar.)
Around this time, Bernard Williams, a motoring enthusiast who lived in Lytham St Annes, expressed interest in becoming involved in the company. By July 1955, he had been hired as the director of TVR Engineering. Wilkinson and Pickard were amenable to this because of their limited interest in financial and business administration; both were more interested in the chassis and components engineering. With renewed optimism about the future success of TVR, Wilkinson moved operations from the Beverley Grove garage to three buildings at Fielding's Industrial Estate in Hoo Hill, Layton, Blackpool. The buildings occupied by TVR Engineering were somewhat in disrepair; holes in the glass roof panels admitted snow in the winter.
Even before receiving his first chassis in June, 1956, Saidel had placed orders for two more chassis. TVR Engineering, bolstered by the influx of sales, hired two more employees: Stanley Kilcoyne, a welder, and Josef Mleczek, a general components fitter. In the following years, Mleczek (nicknamed "The Pole") would become an expert fibreglass laminator, and would ultimately direct operation in TVR's body shop. Also around this time, Bernard Williams introduced a wealthy investor named Fred Thomas, who would join TVR as a director.
Open Sports and Coupe (1956-1958)
In mid-1956, Wilkinson and Pickard undertook to create the first original TVR body style, which would be fitted on the Jomar-style chassis. The body shape was created with the use of two Microplas Mistral nose sections, one for the bonnet and one (reversed) for the rear. Although never officially named, this car is usually referred to as the TVR "Open Sports". The first car, painted red and fitted with a Coventry Climax engine, was tested successfully by Wilkinson at the Aintree Motor Racing Circuit in the summer of 1956. Either three or four TVR Open Sports were built in total, although the true number is not known due to incomplete records. One of the cars was provided to Autosport Magazine writer Francis Penn for testing. He drove it at Aintree and described its steering response and grip as "superb".
To address feedback from customers about the Open Sports lacking daily-use practicality, the designers at TVR created a fixed-head notchback coupe body. This body was fitted to the same semi-spaceframe chassis to create a car that became known as the TVR Coupe. As with previous models, it was offered with the choice of several engines, including the Ford 100E sidevalve, the Coventry Climax FWA, and the 1489cc MGA engine. When the Ford sidevalve was selected, the customer had the further option of fitting a Shorrock supercharger. One of the Coupes was used by the factory as a demonstrator model, and was driven by Mike Hawthorn.
On January 10, 1958, the TVR Coupe made its first public appearance at Quicks showroom in Manchester, England: "The designers are Mr. Trevor Wilkinson and Mr. Bernard Williams, who run the T.V.R. engineering company at Layton, Blackpool, and who have been making chassis for special car builders for some years. A little over two years ago they were asked by the American racing car enthusiast, Mr. Raymond Saidel, of Manchester, New Hampshire, to design a racing chassis. For twelve months this chassis was tested and improved on tracks in the United States and in the last year a team of six T.V.R.s has been racing regularly in the United States." Competition Press reported: "Jomar has gone into Formula racing, too. The Jomar monoposto has been designed by Ray and is built in his Manchester N.H. shop (the sports car chassis are built for him in England)."In 1959, Motor Sport reported: "The cars are made in Blackpool and the majority of the production is exported to America, where the sports version is known as the Jomar."
Ray Saidel, enthusiastic about the prospect of selling TVRs in the United States, purchased several cars in addition to the rolling chassis that he had bought previously; he imported one Open Sports and three Coupes, with the intention of selling them under the Jomar name. He was not especially successful in selling the cars, and felt that one problem lay in the car's styling. Saidel wrote to the factory and suggested that the next model be styled as a fastback.
Introduction of the Grantura
The next model produced by TVR was the Grantura Mark 1, which used a fastback-style body over the existing chassis design (with the same trailing-arm independent suspension front and rear.) Engine options included the Ford 100E sidevalve (normally aspirated or supercharged), the Ford 105E OHV unit, two different Coventry Climax units, or the MGA's BMC B-series. The interior of the Grantura was cramped, with the short doors and 17"-diameter steering wheel proving impediments to ingress. Climax-powered cars would be finished with a leather interior, while cars with the lower-specification engines were trimmed with vinyl.
The TVR factory sent the first Mk1 cars to Ray Saidel in the United States, where they would be offered for sale as the "Jomar Coupe" or the "Jomar Gran Turismo Coupe", depending on which engine had been fitted. Some of these cars carried both the the "Jomar" and "TVR" badging on the nose.
A 1958 advertisement from Saidel Sports-Racing Cars offered two models. The Jomar Mk2 (with fibreglass or aluminum bodywork and the Climax engine) was listed with the copy, only 930 lbs and "Outhandles Everything." The second model, the Jomar Coupe, an 1,172 c.c. fixed-head sports car.These cars utilised the same chassis.In 1959, Motor Sport reported: "The cars are made in Blackpool and the majority of the production is exported to America, where the sports version is known as the Jomar.
Before the name "Grantura" was selected, some alternatives were briefly considered. A model name of "Trevor" was rejected, as was the suggestion of "Hoo Hill Hellcat" (which was proposed by Averil Scott-Moncrieff, the wife of TVR director David "Bunty" Scott-Moncrieff.)
Layton Sports Cars and Grantura Engineering
In October 1958, TVR's debt with the bank was nearing £10,000. At that point in the year, the factory had completed as few as ten cars, and orders from the United States had almost ceased due to the lack of sales success there. All of this was apparently of little concern to TVR director and financier Fred Thomas (who had joined the company about two years prior), as Thomas had apparently intended to close TVR and use the failure as a tax loss to benefit his own engineering firm. In actuality, the directors decided on October 30 that the company would be dissolved and re-formed as Layton Sports Cars Ltd. When the new company began trading in December 1958, the directors voted to immediately inject £15,000 to expand the workforce and build stocks of car components. In February 1959, a sister company was formed under the name Grantura Engineering Ltd. to avoid incurring the UK's Purchase Tax on sales of the cars (which were then still being offered as kits); Purchase Tax would not be applied to kit cars that were purchased from a different company than that which supplied the mechanical components.
TVR received some positive publicity when Autocar magazine dedicated three pages in its March 1959 issue to a technical description of the Grantura Mk1. Unfortunately, the company continued to struggle with the rate of production, still only able to build about one car per month. With the order backlog having grown to around fifteen cars by the end of March, the board voted to replace Trevor Wilkinson with Henry Moulds as the new production manager. Moulds was a car enthusiast and friend of Bunty Scott-Moncrieff. Wilkinson would remain involved with the company, although his influence had been diminished by the appointment of Moulds as the new manager.
The already-strained relationship with Ray Saidel in New Hampshire was finally broken during negotiations between Saidel and TVR in May 1959. Derek Harris, the TVR chairman, attempted to pressure Saidel into purchasing fifty cars per year (rather than the previously agreed upon twenty-five.) Saidel walked out of the negotiations and made it clear in a letter to the factory, dated June 18, that he felt TVR's expectations to be extremely unrealistic. By July 1959, the situation at TVR was dire; there were significant inconsistencies in pricing and in financial recordkeeping, stocks of components were not being properly managed, the factory did not employ enough skilled workers, and there were serious doubts about the capability of the company's leadership.
In an attempt to re-establish a distributor network in the United States, the factory accepted an order for two cars from Continental Motors in Washington, D.C., which also happened to be the North American distributor for the Elva Courier. Unfortunately, TVR had to have the cars returned to the UK when Continental Motors was shut down after its owner, Walter R. Dickson, was convicted and jailed for defrauding his bank.
An engineer (and earlier TVR customer) named John Thurner left his position at Rolls-Royce and joined TVR in November 1959, whereupon he was named Technical Director. Thurner's experience and enthusiasm were sought to help the company improve the Grantura and to streamline production, and he was given full control of Grantura development. This raised the ire of Wilkinson, who regarded Thurner as a professional competitor and who felt that he was being undermined by the company he originally created.
Aitchison, Hopton, and TVR Cars Ltd.
By the middle of 1960, the factory employed forty-three workers, the Grantura Mk1 production was ending (with a total of 100 cars produced), and the Mk2 body shell design was nearly ready. TVR had distributors selling cars in the UK, including David Buxton Ltd. in Derby and Bill Last in Woodbridge, Suffolk. In January 1961, Keith Aitchison and Bryan Hopton (of the Aitchison-Hopton Lotus/TVR dealer in Chester) expressed interest in investing in TVR. During the summer, Bernard Williams attempted to cement their interest by offering a Climax-powered Grantura Mk2 to the two men for a drive to the Monza circuit in Italy. During the trip, a portion of the exhaust system fell off the car on two separate occasions, but the two men were nonetheless impressed with the car's performance.
In September of the same year, the Aitchison-Hopton company bought a controlling share of TVR. Before the end of the year, Hopton had appointed himself as chairman and renamed Layton Sport Cars to TVR Cars Ltd. Between September 1961 and February 1962, the number of orders for cars had been doubled, and most of the stock of finished cars had been sold.
In January 1962, the company hired Ken Richardson as a competition manager, with the intent that he would lead TVR's attempts to enter international racing. In March, Hopton entered three Grantura Mk2As in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The lightweight cars were prepared by chief mechanic David Hives and competition mechanic Bob Hallett, although only one of them would actually finish the race (the other two retiring early with mechanical failure.) TVR directors began to doubt the new leadership when they saw Bryan Hopton's tendency to overextend the company's finances in motor racing, as well as on indulgences such as luxury transport and hotels. This ill-fated race outing at Sebring was the last in a series of events that led to the departure of Trevor Wilkinson, whose resignation was accepted by the board of directors on April 5, 1962.
After both Wilkinson and Pickard left TVR, they together set up a specialist fiberglass engineering business. On retirement, Wilkinson moved to Minorca, Spain, where he died aged 85, on June 6, 2008.
TVR leadership was engaged with aerodynamicist and auto engineer Frank Costin during 1961 and 1962, when Costin produced a scale model and prototype of his "P5" model car ("Costin Auto Project 5"), a vehicle that featured gullwing doors, semi-skirted wheel apertures, and a 1000cc three-cylinder two-stroke DKW engine. Bryan Hopton tooks photos and specifications of the car with him when he travelled to the United States for the 1962 New York motor show, and reportedly took over 1000 preliminary orders for the P5. The car had some design issues (such as visibility); the prototype was relegated to storage in the Grantura Plastics workshop, and would never enter production.
In spite of the lack of success at Sebring, the company continued to enter international motor racing events in 1962, including the Dutch Tulip Rally in May, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The Tulip Rally resulted in one car finishing third in its class, but the Le Mans outing was fraught with unfortunate events for the TVR team. In the time leading up to the race, two of the cars slated to compete were crashed in difference incidents and hastily rebuilt. During the journey into France, one of the cars suffered a fuel system problem, and another left the road in a roundabout because the car's racing brakes had not been exercised and were still cold. Although the team worked to resolve mechanical issues in a local garage that was conveniently located across from the hotel at which they stayed, the single car that started the race would badly overheat and retire during the third lap. David Hives described the event as a "fiasco", and noted that "it cost TVR a small fortune".TVR cars were driven to greater success by World War II flying ace Tommy Entwistle, who, in 1962, finished as runner-up in the Freddie Dixon Challenge Trophy race series.
By late 1962, the company was again in dire financial trouble. The Mk3 Grantura had been introduced later than expected, two of the home market distributors had gone out of business (Research Garage and David Buxton Ltd.), the Canadian government had imposed a 10% duty on cars imported from the United Kingdom, and the company discontinued its relationship with Dick Monnich, the US importer, because of his failure to pay for his orders. Factory workers were all laid off in October 1962, and Henry Moulds and Bernards Williams met with the company's creditors in December. TVR Cars Ltd. moved into receivership and much of its equipment, including body moulds, was moved to secure storage.
Fortunately for the future of TVR, its associated company, Grantura Engineering Ltd., was still in business. Bernard Williams was able to convince the receivers of TVR Cars Ltd. to allow access to the body moulds as well as some partially-finished body shells, and several cars were completed in late 1963 into early 1963. Keith Aitchison again became involved with the company in spring 1963, when he paid £250 to a court bailiff to prevent the seizure of a pipe bender from the factory. He then remained as marketing and sales director for the following two years. Many of the factory workers and some of the directors were persistent, remaining with the company in an attempt to return TVR to profitability. Early 1963 saw the creation of Grantura Plastics Ltd., a company that handled the fiberglass moulding.
Also in 1963, a new shareholder, Richard Barnaby, initiated talks with Major Tony Rolt of Ferguson Developments over the possibility of creating a four-wheel drive V8-powered TVR, although TVR did not have the funds available to commit to such a project. It was later revealed that Rolt had been discussing a similar project with Jensen Motors, which ultimately resulted in the Jensen FF.
The company's recovery effort brought a partnership with a new distributor, The TVR Centre of Reece Mews, South Kensington, London. Its owner was one James Boothby, an ex-RAF pilot.
After re-establishing a distributor partnership with TVR, the American Dick Monnich visited Blackpool and informed the directors that one of his colleagues, Andrew Jackson "Jack" Griffith, was a Ford dealer based on Long Island, and he had been experimenting with installing a Ford 289 engine in a Grantura Mk3 chassis. This car would ultimately become known as the Griffith Series 200.
The Griffith, and 1965 collapse
In October 1963, Dick Monnich, Jack Griffith, and Griffith's race mechanic George Clark finished the prototype Griffith, created by swapping a Ford 289 V8 into a Grantura Mk3. The accelerative performance of the car exceeded expectations, although the brakes and chassis had been left unmodified and, by all account, were woefully inadequate when matched with the large engine. In a short period of time, the TVR factory built a second prototype that was better developed and better finished, as well as three engine-less cars destined for Griffith's business in New York. After one of the cars was shown at the International Automobile Show in New York, the Griffith factory established in Syosset, Long Island began manufacturing the cars from engine-less cars imported from the Hoo Hill TVR factor
Amidst the Griffith production (which required the TVR factory to build cars at a greater rate than ever before), Major Timothy Knott was hired as the managing director in August 1964. His military background and strict enforcement of order and workday schedule prevented him from ingratiating himself with most of the factory workers. Knott subsequently hired Ralph Kissack, also from a military background, and whose family was involved with Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man.
The modern TVR logo (which the company would use until its demise in 2006) was designed in 1964 by Bob Hallett
Reliability problems and customer complaints began to mount through 1964. In 1965, a dock strike in the US severely damaged Jack Griffith's ability to import cars. Griffith was then unable to meet his financial obligation to Ford, which stopped supplying drivetrain components. Ties with TVR were also then severed, and the already-struggling TVR was no longer able to continue. In September 1965, a director meeting was held at TVR, and it was announced that the company would be stopping production and closing the factory at Hoo Hill. TVR went into liquidation in November of that year.
Between 1963 and 1965, TVR produced several prototypes of a car named the Trident. It was powered by the same Ford V8 as was found in the Griffith, and the body was hand-built of aluminum by Carrozzeria Fissore in Savigliano, Italy. The styling was the work of Trevor Fiore, who borrowed the shape from his previous styling exercise for the Lea Francis Francesca (a conceptual roadster that never reached production.)
Carrozzeria Fissore displayed a prototype Trident coupé at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1965. Despite very positive public reaction to the car, it was not well-received by Jack Griffith, and the one prototype that had been shipped to the United States was returned to the UK in 1965. When TVR collapsed in 1965, the third and fourth Tridents were under construction at the time, and they were put into storage. In the wake of the company's liquidation, TVR dealer Bill Last acquired the rights to the Trident. In 1966, he established in Trident Cars Ltd and started building the car under the model name "Clipper".
1960s and 1970s
Under the ownership of Martin Lilley from 1965, TVR returned to Ford for a 2994 cc V6 Zodiac engine for the new TVR Tuscan (1967) racer. This produced 128 bhp (95 kW), giving a 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) time of 8.3 seconds, which was good performance for the time.
The 1970s saw a number of engines used in TVRs (particularly the 'M Series'), mainly Triumph 2500s, Ford Essex V6 and Ford 1600 Crossflows. The M was followed by the Tasmins, the first of the long running Wedge series.
In the 1980s, under the ownership of Peter Wheeler, a chemical industry consultant and TVR enthusiast, TVR moved away from naturally aspirated and turbocharged V6s back to large V8s, namely the Rover V8. Capacity grew from 3.5 to 5 litres.
In 1988 TVR sourced a 5.0 litre Holden V8 through Tom Walkinshaw at Holden Special Vehicles. The engine was installed in the TVR White Elephant, a prototype car built for Wheeler by John Ravenscroft. Whilst an interesting engineering and styling exercise, the Holden powered TVR White Elephant was later superseded by the Rover V8 powered Griffith prototype.
In the 1990s, TVR Power modified a number of Rover V8s, but subsequently developed an in-house engine design. The AJP8 engine, a lightweight alloy V8, was developed by engineering consultant Al Melling along with John Ravenscroft and Peter Wheeler (hence the AJP initials), a notable achievement for a small maker. The new engine was originally destined for the Griffith and Chimaera models, but development took longer than expected and eventually became available in the Cerbera and Tuscan race cars.
Perhaps more significantly, Wheeler was instrumental in the body design of TVR cars during his ownership. He managed a design team that produced a number of acclaimed and resolved body designs including the Chimaera, Griffith, Cerbera, Tuscan, Tamora, T350, Typhon and Sagaris. These attention grabbing designs helped to keep TVR on the front covers of magazines around the world and in the public eye.
Wheeler subsequently directed the design of a straight-six derivative of the AJP8 that would be cheaper to produce and maintain than the eight. This engine, designed initially by Al Melling and then significantly altered before final production by TVR/ John Ravenscroft, became known as the TVR Speed Six engine, and powers current TVRs.
In July 2004, 24-year-old Nikolay Smolensky bought the company from Wheeler, for a rumoured £15 million. Despite his Russian nationality, Smolensky said he intended TVR to remain a British company.
In April 2006, responding to falling demand and with production rumoured to have dropped from 12 cars a week to 3 or 4, TVR laid off some of its 300 staff. At the same time, the firm announced plans to move to updated facilities in the Squires Gate district of Blackpool, citing impending expiry of the lease of the current factory in late 2006, where owner Peter Wheeler was said to be planning to build a housing estate.
In October 2006 Smolensky announced that body production and final assembly for TVR would move to Turin with only engine production remaining in the UK. In protest at this and to show support for the workers, a large number of TVR owners paraded through central London on 26 November 2006. Dubbed "London Thunder", it was also an attempt at the official world record for the biggest one-marque convoy on record.
By December 2006, it emerged that Smolensky had split TVR into a number of different companies;
- Brand and intellectual property rights had been transferred to a core Smolensky company
- TVR Motors – held the licence to the brands and intellectual property in the UK, as well as sales and marketing of the brand
- TVR Power – the parts and spares business had been sold to a management buyout
- Blackpool Automotive – the factory and manufacturing assets
On 13 December, Smolensky and production director Mike Penny resigned as directors of Blackpool Automotive, being replaced by Smolensky UK personal assistant Roger Billinghurst and 25-year-old Austrian Angelco Stamenkov. By 24 December Blackpool Automotive was in administration. Administrators are now seeking legal clarification on the ownership of certain assets, including the brand and intellectual property, to see what assets the company has and who should pay the redundancy notices of the remaining 200 workers.
On 22 February 2007 it was revealed that Smolensky was once again the owner of the company, having been the highest bidder. On 28 February 2007, less than one week after reacquiring TVR, he reportedly announced plans to sell the company to Adam Burdette and Jean Michel Santacreu, who intended to export TVRs to the United States.
On 8 October 2007 it was found that Smolensky was still in control of the company and was hoping to restart production, with a target of 2,000 cars to be sold in 2008. and on 11 July TVR announced the relaunching of the Sagaris as the Sagaris 2, at its new centre near Wesham in Lancashire, though this did not happen and the company took no action for another two years. In June 2010 German manufacturer Gullwing, a specialist German firm which held a minority share in TVR, said they would start producing a new car from September 2010. Boss Juergen Mohr said "Having been a TVR owner, I think this will be the best TVR ever." He also confirmed the company was planning new models, possibly with alternative drivetrains. "I can imagine everything, even electric-powered cars," Mohr said.
On 12 July 2012 Nikolay Smolensky confirmed a permanent end to TVR car production, stating that costs were now too high and customer demands too low for the business to operate profitably. The TVR name is now likely to be used on a new line of portable wind turbines.
The history of the company can be divided into four eras, based on ownership:
- 1947–1965, founder Trevor Wilkinson, who left in 1962
- 1965–1981, Martin Lilley
- 1981–2004, Peter Wheeler
- 2004–2012, Nikolay Smolensky