The TVR Tuscan Speed Six first went into production early in the year 2000. The car has a novel removable hard top which stows neatly into the boot along with the removable rear screen, leaving enough room for two decent sized suitcases (or a couple of golf bags). Although the kerb weight of the car is a mere 1000 kg, creature comforts such as air conditioning and power steering are still included. TVR’s own engine, the infamous Speed Six, is fitted under the mechanically fastened bonnet cover. Over time, TVR included the speed six in all Tuscan derivatives in varying states of tune:
- 3.6 Litre Mk1 – 350 BHP and 290 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk1 – 360 BHP and 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk1 Red Rose – 380 BHP and 310ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk1 S (Pre 2003) – 390 BHP and 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk1 S (Post 2003) – 400 BHP and 315 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk2 (Post 2005) – 380 BHP and 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk2 S (Post 2005) – 400 BHP and 315 ft.lbf
- 4.0 Litre Mk2 Convertible (Post 2005) – 380 BHP and 310ft.lb
In contrast to modern vehicle design techniques, TVR did not use any computer software, instead the vehicle shape was formed by a team of TVR’s own stylists, led by Damien McTaggert with the close co-operation of Chairman Peter Wheeler. In total it took two years to finalise the vehicles stunning form.
Designing a car in this way is inordinately time consuming, however it does offer certain advantages; it is rarely possible to control a surface on a computer as subtly as one can when sculpting by hand. it is commonly recognised that the tooling for mass produced vehicles takes longer to develop than the styling of the car itself; this is categorically not the case with a car designed by TVR.
Many of the features found on the car, features that make the car so extraordinary, are included for sound engineering reasons but serve to enhance the overall appearance of the vehicle. As a case in point, the unusual bonnet arrangement (the main bonnet cover is bolted to the car) forms a lightly stressed member allowing engineers to duct the airflow very precisely. In addition the absence of hinges and gas struts mean that the bonnet cover can be manufactured to be very light weight.
In simple terms one may deduce that the exterior of the vehicle is extravagant contrasted and complemented by the interior which is relatively minimal in concept. Function has once again followed form and the interior components are to the highest quality. an example of the interior function can be seen in the curved aluminium dash top which acts as one of the transverse strengthening beams of the car.
An example of the original thinking of TVR designers has manifested itself in the instrument binnacle which is manufactured in house. The original design allows a link between the binnacle and the engine management system, which with its vast array of sensors monitoring various engine parameters, allows for a comprehensive range of data to be displayed to the driver. The readouts are easily selectable via a rotary brass knob, which allows the driver to easily access the various data readouts the vehicle has to offer. Amongst the datasets available are, fuel level, oil level, oil temperature, road speed, battery voltage, fuel pressure, ambient air temperature and engine speed. An additional feature is included at the top of the instrument binnacle in the form of graduated shift lights; the lights can be adjusted to communicate to the driver his preferred engine speed, allowing the driver to change gear at an optimum point in the engines rev range.
TVR’s design engineers spent a painstaking amount of time developing the seats for the car. Many TVR owners opt to sample the full potential of their cars on the race track. To that end, and because built in height adjustment in not practical in such a car, the seats have removable squabs. This allows the driver (and passenger) to sit lower in the seat, giving ample room for the occupants to wear crash helmets.
The styling of the car has been influenced by the engine layout and configuration. TVR’s approach, engine up front and driving the rear wheels, allows the use of the most classic of sports car engines – the straight six. As a side note, TVR doubled up the speed six to create the incredible Speed Twelve.
One of the primary characteristics of a straight six is that it can be perfectly balanced. TVR has opted to use an all aluminium construction with significant new features which make a departure from the traditional mould used by the company’s engineers. It is the first TVR engine to employ four valves per cylinder allowing higher volumetric efficiency at high revs, affording the motor a more sports orientated nature. Finger followers allow higher valve acceleration, improving the engines torque. A quiet and reliable drive is ensured by chain driven twin overhead camshafts. The engine sits very low in the cars chassis to promote a lower centre of gravity, enhanced by a 15 degree engine cant which allow the bonnet to sit even lower. The engine designers have achieved such a low CoG by using a dry sump system, akin to that in the Speed Eight and Speed Twelve racing variants. The engine features steel conrods aligned to slipper style lightweight pistons and a nodular iron crankshaft.
The vehicles chassis is based around a shorten version to that found on the Cerbera, affording more room than one would find in a Chimaera or Griffith. The overall dimensions of the chassis have been derived from the Tuscan Challenge racing car. The benefit of using a race proven chassis are immediately obvious, for one, rarely has a vehicle chassis been so comprehensively crash tested. The roll cage, door beams and transverse aluminium strengthening beams are all evidence of TVR’s commitment to safety, something which has been upper most in the design process from the very start.