Was the TVR 350i a very good car?
Towards the end of the 1970s TVR cars were starting to look a little dated; after all the body shape had not changed a great deal for around 15 years. A new design was produced by Oliver Winterbottom, a designer who had cut his teeth on Lotus cars and the wedge shape had a lot of similarities to the body styles of the Esprit and Eclat.
Latterly the company had been more famous for the wrong reasons; such as a disastrous fire and flirtings with bankruptcy. However, new money arrived in the shape of a wealthy businessman named Peter Wheeler; and the decision was made to press ahead with the new car, which was initially called the Tasmin. Why Tasmin? Easy. It was a name of the girlfriend of Martin Lilley, the boss of TVR.
Was it attractive?
The shape was certainly distinctive, and together with the pop-up headlights there was more than a passing resemblance to some of the supercars emerging from Italy. The standard of finish, generally, was first class with a very plush interior, when compared to the standards of other sports cars of the day. It was first available as a two seater, with a 2+2 and a convertible coming along in the near future.
Was it powerful?
Initially the engine that was supplied was a 2.8 litre Ford V6. This was soon upgraded to an all aluminium V8 courtesy of Rover; an engine which would have been provided much earlier had it been available. This was a much superior engine and it gave the car the lift that it really needed; the power output was 190 brake horsepower, which when fed through the five-speed manual gearbox gave a top speed of 138 mph. The engine note was a very pleasing growl, and the car very soon got its nickname as the Blackpool bomber; that joyous burble from the exhaust was one of the reasons why so many people fell in love with the car from the start.
Did it handle well?
The taut chassis kept it well behaved on the road, with just a hint of oversteer. The well-made fibreglass body cut down the weight considerably, leaving a car which handled as well as it looked and performed.
Was it successful?
Although sales figures have not been revealed it stayed in production, with full order books, right until 1990 when it was only discontinued so as to make room for a new range of models.