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Nikolai Smolenski's tenure as owner of TVR, the formerly revered maker of hairy-chested British sports cars, is nothing if not quizzical. He bought the company from late founder Peter Wheeler when it was in trouble, didn't do much with it, declared it bankrupt to clear its debts, then bought the company out of bankruptcy. Since then there's been little news save for a legal battle with a TVR remanufacturer and a couple of hints about using an American V8 to power the firm's next car.

The V8 issue has finally been decided: the Corvette's 638-horsepower LS9. The car it will go in is to be called the MD-1. A new question that has arisen, however, based on Smolenski's comment that he wants to "draw a line under the Wheeler era once and for all." Will the car be at all British? The MD-1 is being developed by a UK firm, but Smolenski says production could go to the Continent or South Africa just as easily.

Would a German-built, American-engined TVR still be a TVR like the Griffith and Chimera (or the Tasmin shown above)? Smolenski thinks TVR fans wouldn't think so, but he doesn't much care. He says, "What's important is to remain faithful to your brand values" no matter where you are. The MD-1 is expected to arrive in 2012, with just 250 made annually.

[Source: Pistonheads]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hate when companies use engines from another company. It's like whoring out the brand. No I don't want an LS9 in my TVR. If I wanted an LS9, I would buy a ZR1. Same with Lotus.. If I wanted an ISF 5.0, then I would buy an ISF. I just think the world would be a better place if supercars had their OWN engines like they used to..
        • 4 Years Ago
        So does that also mean you objected to the merc engine in the zonda or the BMW engine ine the mclaren f1?
        • 4 Years Ago
        TVR has a long history of using other makers' engines, especially BMC, Ford, and Rover. It was only in the 1990's that they developed the AJP8 V8 engine, and that was used only in the Cerbera and the Tuscan racing car. There's nothing wrong with manufacturers buying in engines. Small companies have always done this. Think AC, Jensen, De Tomaso, Facel Vega, and many, many others.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes Alex, I am well aware! That wonderful engine was also used in the Mangusta and Panoz' Esperante and Roadster. I am not against Ford or GM for allowing wide use of the engine, but I am against the companies that utilize this in order to keep from making their own. In other words, I want to see some new supercar engines on the road.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ahem: De Tomaso Pantera.

        Engine supplied by... (you should know)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Paxx:
        Downvote me for this automotive blasphemy, but yes. I cannot stand the Zonda. Just for the fact of it's motor. In fact, I spent a couple hours late last night watching videos of the Cinque R, F and so on... Love the sound, love the dynamics. But hate the concept of using another brand's engine. The F1, slightly less annoying just because of it's sheer amount of awesome.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Somebody is apparently unaware of the massive amount of money and resources required to develop an engine capable of powering a super car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      TVR could have not made a better choice in picking the LS9 as their engine, this engine has proven what it can do........good luck to TVR.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i don't see how an american-engined tvr would run contrary to its brand values—how many past tvr's have been powered by the Al buick (rover) v8?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still don't understand why Smolensky ran TVR into the ground and bought it back at auction. And now announcing every six months a new life for the brand. What has been his motivation?

      Poor Peter Wheeler, RIP. Thanks for some truly fantastic vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He did it to write off the debt the company had accumulated.

        I also don't like this engine borrowing. I think too many companies are picking up the corvette engine. I wouldn't mind if they sourced an engine made in the companies country of origin. TVR I'm sure could arrange something with Zetek engineering. They make the engines for Ginetta. They also make those powerful LMP engines for Le Mans.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I dunno if I see using an LS9 exactly, but for a small company like this, using available engines just makes the most sense. And that's why TVR, for most of their lifespan has done so.

      There was only a short period (a decade or so?) where TVR made their own engines. And in this timeframe they suffered the typical problems of short-run makes. That is is mainly reliability.

      It's just very difficult to ask someone to spend a lot more on a car and then also expect it to not work as well as a more common car. There is a market for it (just ask Lamborghini in the 70s) but it's a lot smaller than the market for a more reliable exotic (just ask Lamborghini in the 2000s).
      • 4 Years Ago
      My first take is that I completely agree with the statement "What's important is to remain faithful to your brand values" for any brand out there... The big question isn't whether you should remain faithful to a literal translation of your past product but what exactly is that/are those brand values to which you will remain faithful?

      I'm not sure I understand what TVR's unique (very important descriptor there) brand values are but, as an example, I'm thinking that Lotus (in one of the most ironic of moves, given the times we're entering) is abandoning brand values that embraced or emphasized efficiency (small size, lightweight construction, small powertrains) while delivering on amazing performance. Ironically, I say, because it seems that this is exactly the kind of value-set that will flourish in the times ahead. Perhaps, it's only with some of the products shown at the Paris Show but, I'm afraid that even the new Elise is a step away (bigger, heavier) from the ethos that drove Lotus' brand identity.

      And, in a nod to the question of unique or purchased powertrains, I have no problem with Lotus powered by other OEMs powertrains (it's essentially the history of the brand, after all, going back to the origins). It's the particular execution of the product & the choice of powertrain specification which makes me question it's validity. Toyota makes great engines but, frankly, I'd have preferred something more along the lines of an EcoBoost solution to get to the 5.0L's power output (small, lightweight, high specific output, featuring a technology, in turbocharging, that Lotus helped to pioneer).

      TVR? Hard to pinpoint what it's brand value, unique from other small (or big) OEMs, might be... Interesting to watch, I guess.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's times like this (as well as every other second of the day) when I wish I were rich enough to buy TVR from Smolenski to stop him ruining it. I'm sure everyone here has their own view on what should happen with TVR but they're probably all better than what's happening currently.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 2010 Chevrolet Corvette ranks 1 out of 9 Luxury Sports Cars. This ranking is based on of 70 published reviews and test drives of the Chevrolet Corvette including safety data and reliability. It makes a great car to be listed under sports car but still regular car drivers point of The Corvette receives an all-new Grand Sport trim -- which features enhanced performance engineering and Z06-styling available in two body styles, coupe and convertible, and a variety of trims.
      http://www.autolinemag.com/366-2012-corvette.html
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm really not so sure about this. There are other sports cars out there that are soooo much better. About the only think I could see improving is the build quality...
      random231
      • 4 Years Ago
      i loved the unique nature of tvr, this sounds more like somebody wanted a supercar company name more than the cars or history. shame to see those nasty inline 6's go.
      • 4 Years Ago
      European handling with american muscle is never a bad thing!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      TVR is a tiny company. They might not have the funds to develop a engine of their own from scratch.
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