Troubled TVR Griffith Is Back Again With V8 & Electric Promises

TVR Griffith V8 and EV announcement highlights:

  • Unveiled in 2017, the V8-powered TVR Griffith was supposed to revive the British sports car company in 2018
  • After years of delays, the Griffith is seemingly back on track with an additional electric variant
  • Pending future hiccups, the Griffith models should hit the road in 2024, though U.S. sales are still uncertain

Every automaker, including those that make high-end sports cars, has struggled to stay afloat at some point. Porsche and BMW both faced bankruptcy in the past, for example, while Bugatti’s been shuttered twice. And then there’s TVR, the car company that just can’t find its feet. Recent developments, though, have fans hoping that the long-promised TVR Griffith will finally hit the road soon. But will that really happen, or is this just more wishful thinking?

The TVR Griffith was supposed to re-re-launch the British sports car brand back in 2018

The red 2017 TVR Griffith V8 Prototype at the 2017 Goodwood Revival
2017 TVR Griffith V8 Prototype at the 2017 Goodwood Revival | Michael Cole/Corbis via Getty Images

As Aston Martin and Lotus can attest, the history of British automaking is chock full of ups and downs. But even in this tumultuous cavalcade, one sports car company stands out: TVR.  Founded in 1947, TVR quickly earned a reputation for performance, out-of-the-box thinking, insane behind-the-scenes antics, and bad luck. Seriously, its history reads like a cross between a Keith Moon biography and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Sure, its lightweight, tube-frame sports cars won races, and unusually among small, independent automakers, TVR eventually took engine production in-house. However, it also suffered multiple factory fires and was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. Also, there’s the time company executives decided to drum up auto show publicity by hiring naked models to pose on the display cars. Wait, I’m sorry, did I say ‘the’ time? I meant the two times.

Anyway, TVR somehow kept afloat until 2004 when entrepreneur Nickolai Smolenski bought it. He then ran it into the ground by 2007, whereupon it lay dormant until 2013 when current owner Les Edgar took over the reins, Hagerty says. And at the 2017 Goodwood Revival, the reformed TVR announced a new sports car, the Griffith.

Designed by Gordon Murray—yes, that Gordon Murray—the TVR Griffith was the brand’s traditions brought to the 21st century. Thanks to a chassis blended with carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel, as well as carbon-fiber body panels, it had a 2755-lb dry weight. Furthermore, under its hood was a Cosworth-tuned 500-hp 5.0-liter V8 with a six-speed manual and side-exit exhausts. And though the Griffith had traction control, all its power went to the rear wheels only. Appropriate, given its sub-four-second 0-60 mph time and 200-mph top speed.

On paper, the TVR Griffith looked great. However, it was supposed to go on sale in 2018. Now it’s 2022, and so far, still no Griffith. But that might change soon.

Thanks to lithium mining cash, the Griffith still lives—and an electric version is joining the V8 one

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Now, TVR’s boss didn’t just take the money from pre-selling 500 launch-edition Griffiths and run. However, after taking the deposits and trying to set up its factory, the company learned the proposed site was full of asbestos, Hagerty explains. Then the EU objected to the Welsh government’s large stake and pointed out the subsequent need to satisfy EU regulations. And after that, financial issues kicked in. Like I said, if TVR is known for anything, it’s bad luck.

But after years of delays, it seems the TVR Griffith ship has hit calmer waters. Firstly, the Welsh government no longer has a stake in the sports car company, MotorTrend reports. Secondly, TVR just got a big cash injection from Ensorcia Metals, a South American battery and “net-zero carbon technology” company. And that brings us to the second part of the recent Griffith developments.

Among its multiple interests, Ensorcia mines and refines lithium for electric vehicle batteries using so-called ‘green’ methods. So, while the V8-powered Griffith is coming, it’s also getting a limited-edition EV counterpart with Ensorcia-sourced batteries. According to Edgar, this is the first step in TVR becoming “’a sustainable, net-zero business,’” MT says. And yes, the company has an asbestos-free factory it’s moving into over the next few months.

In addition, the TVR Griffith won’t be the company’s last electric sports car. Not only is it working on additional EVs, but it’s also sponsoring several Formula E races. The first of these is the Monaco e-Prix in April, followed by July’s two London events.

Will this new TVR Griffith actually make it to the U.S.?

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As of this writing, TVR hasn’t released any details about future EV models. But while fully setting up its factory will take around 18 months, it plans to start Griffith V8 production during setup. After that, the Griffith EV should launch sometime in 2024.

Assuming these plans go off without significant hitches, does that mean we’ll see new TVR Griffiths in the U.S.? Well, its 5.0-liter V8 is basically a modified Ford Mustang GT engine, which is 50-state emissions legal. The Griffith would still need to pass U.S. crash tests, though, and come with stability control and a rearview camera. However, that only applies to volume manufacturers. Theoretically, the TVR Griffith could gain exemptions under the new Low Volume Act.

As for the Griffith EV, TVR’s press release mentions “global development.” So, a U.S. release isn’t entirely out of the question. But it still requires finding a distribution partner; ditto V8 model sales. And it’s worth noting that TVR sports cars have long been forbidden fruit here due to their previous lack of safety features.

Nevertheless, ‘hope springs eternal’ is an unofficial TVR catchphrase. Let’s hope it sticks this time.

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