1999 TVR Chimaera 500

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1999 TVR Chimaera 500

Background

The TVR Chimaera is one of those cars that makes you realise how old you are: built between 1992 and 2003, it only seems like it was launched only yesterday.

Named after a mythical Greek beast, the Chimaera has all the good stuff, including the Griffith’s backbone chassis, a choice of Rover V8 engines, and more interior space than any previous TVR. This interior volume, along with more compliant suspension, allowed the Chimaera to fulfil TVR’s vision of what a long-distance touring sportscar should be.

Not that it was a softie though because even the slowest could hit 60mph in a shade over five seconds, with the fastest reaching the same speed in just over four. All could top 150mph too, and the top of the range model – a 340bhp, five-litre monster – could hit 175mph.

Unequal-length twin wishbones on each corner helps the Chimaera stay shiny side up, while discs all round helped it stop even more quickly than it accelerated. A manual gearbox is standard and cog-shifting duties were delegated to a Rover LT77 until 1995, after which the much-improved Borg-Warner T5 took over.

The TVR Chimaera 500 you see here is the full-fat version everyone wants. Introduced in 1994 and rarer than a politician’s integrity, it’s got the 5.0-litre Rover V8 under the bonnet, tuned to develop 340bhp and 320lb/ft of torque.

This is enough to propel the 500 to 60mph in 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed that is only 25mph short of the double ton. Of course, a weight of only 1,270kgs helps no end but at the end of the day there ain’t no substitute for cubes, is there?

The Vehicle

First registered on the 12th of March 1999, this TVR Chimaera 500 in Viper GTS Blue was supplied by Mole Valley TVR. It was later bought by a friend of the vendor – after he’d inspected it and gave his mate the thumbs-up! The friend kept it for a couple of years before he was persuaded to sell it to the seller, which makes this a car with a lovely recent history.

Driven to us by Simon, its devoted owner and the chap who first inspected it, it is showing (an almost certainly genuine) sub-50,000 miles on the odometer. Owning it has been a “nice experience” apparently, a classic slice of British understatement but one that manages to tell you everything you need to know.

Even better news is that it comes with a full year’s MOT, has a great service and MOT history, and some significant recent bills.

Only being sold to free up some cash for something else, this was intended to be the seller’s forever car: as a long-time TVR enthusiast and owner, he’s absolutely gutted it’s going.

Still, his loss could be your gain, so #swingsandroundabouts, eh?

On the Outside

It still wears the correct seven-spoke Chimaera 500 alloy wheels along with the ‘Chimaera 500’ badging. The wheels are shod with matching Toyo Proxes tyres too, all of which have good tread – and you all know how we feel about matching high-quality tyres by now, don’t you?

The light lenses are bright and undamaged, as are the integral front and rear bumpers. Being body coloured, there are the first places to betray a careless owner but these are, as you can see, flawless - and that tells you a lot about the vendor’s diligence.

The rest of the coachwork is equally impressive with straight flanks and no dents, dings, or parking scrapes we can see. There are some impressive shutlines and panel gaps, too. It looks as good up close as it does from a distance, which isn’t something you can say of every Chimaera out there.

The fabric roof folds away neatly, and both it and the removeable front section are free of rips, tears and other damage bar the odd stretch of missing stitching and a small messy area at the base of the nearside section; please see slide #121 for details.

This means that there isn’t much to do at all. Of course, the fibreglass panels mean that rust isn’t an issue, which just leaves a few minor paint flaws such as those you can see in slides #65 and #206.

On the Inside

The tan leather and walnut interior is sensational. Managing to be both classic and modern, it combines all the traditional British sportscar styling cues with a modernity that is all its own courtesy of some beautiful satin alloy controls.

It’s all in great shape too, and the seats are as supportive and comfortable as they’ve ever been, which is crucial given the Chimaera’s dual role as a thrilling, high-performance sportscar in addition to being an effortless long-distance tourer.

The three-spoke Personal steering wheel is present and correct too, and feels lovely in your hands: The TVR is a very tactile car and the effort the factory put in to make so is evident wherever you look, from the huge round alloy gearknob through to the beautifully formed rotary air vent controls.

There’s a body coloured roll bar too, which will give the occupants reassurance they’re in safe hands should things get a bit more exciting than they’d like.

The carpets are good, and they’re protected by a pair of Chimaera 500 overmats.

A Pioneer headunit and speakers provides music, assuming, that is, that the Rover V8 doesn’t provide enough of an aural thrill for you…

The boot, which is a decent size for the type of car, is home to a matching Pioneer CD multichanger as well as the space-saver spare wheel and tool kit.

There are no real issues as such. Sure, the driver’s seat is a little creased and there is the odd small mark on the light-coloured leather but we’d chalk that up to patina and never think of it again.

In fact, the only things we would want to sort is some loose carpet in the footwells (#69 and #136) and the cracks in the dashboard veneer you can see in slides #163 and #170.

Underneath

The online MOT history shows no advisories whatsoever from 2018 to date, with only an oil leak and a split CV gaiter ruining the record for the previous couple of years. The record goes back until 2006 and there’s nothing there that would worry us at all.

The engine bay is neat and tidy without being obsessively so. It’s workmanlike and very usable but if you were to clean and detail it, none of us criticise you.

Incidentally, the TVR was placed into a professional, heated and dehumidified storage for six months over the winter. The owner advises it can be easily left for a few weeks and yet it fires straight up despite not having been on a trickle charger. That there isn’t any battery drain is good news and will baffle modern car owners.

History Highlights

The online MOT history shows no advisories whatsoever from 2018 to date, with only an oil leak and a split CV gaiter ruining the record for the previous couple of years. The record goes back until 2006 and there’s nothing there that would worry us at all.

The engine bay is neat and tidy without being obsessively so. It’s workmanlike and very usable but if you were to clean and detail it, none of us criticise you.

Incidentally, the TVR was placed into professional storage for six months over the winter, and yet it fired straight up when it was retrieved despite not having been on a trickle charger. That there isn’t any battery drain is good news and will baffle modern car owners…

History Highlights

The TVR comes with an unusually complete service history comprising the following stamps in the service history booklet:

• 12.03.1999 and 41 miles – PDI by Mole Valley TVR

• 26.04.1999 and 1,303 miles – service at Mole Valley TVR

• 20.01.2000 and 6,339 miles – service by Mole Valley TVR

• 09.11.2000 and 11,321 miles – service by Mole Valley TVR

• 06.06.2001 and 13,902 miles – sales check service by Harrogate Horseless carriages of Harrogate

• 05.04.2002 and 17,455 miles – service at Dream Machines

• 31.03.2003 and 20,613 miles – service at The Garage at Compton

• 28.05.2004 and 24,206 miles – service at Peninsula TVR including a new radiator, front discs and pads, new rear brake pads, and a geometry check

• 28.04.2012 and 36,142 miles – service at Walldonway Ltd plus new front brake discs and pads plus an oil seal, crankshaft damper and drive belt

• 24.04.2014 and 39,041 miles – service at AutoBritalia plus a new clutch master cylinder

• 25.04.2016 and 42,402 miles – service at Taylor TVR

• 08.12.2017 and 45,204 miles – “chassis tidy up” and new fuel hoses by TVR 101 Ltd

There is also an invoice from May 2021 for a complete service kit, a new exhaust, a set of new HT leads, new spark plugs and a Pipercross performance air filter. FW Motorsport contributed further bits and bobs in June 2021 before fitting the lot. The final bill came to over £1,700 and can be seen in slide #268.

The vendor tells us that the secondary catalytic convertor has been removed (“to add some noise”) and that the Chimaera has always been filled with premium fuel since he’s had it, something it responds to very well.

Fear not though, because the secondary cat comes with the car should the new owner prize originality over improved hullabaloo, and the presence of the primary cat means it still passes its MOT with no worries.

The TVR also comes with a thick sheaf of old MOT certificates and a bundle of old invoices and bills for the work that’s been carried out on it over the years.

There’s also a very useful RAC history check from June 2022 that supports the service and MOT histories in confirming the mileage.

What We Think

The TVR Chimaera isn’t for everyone. If you like your sportscars quiet and undemanding, then this ain’t for you and Mercedes or BMW would love your business.

If, however, you like your sportscars unashamedly British and playful when you’re in the mood, then this one has your name written all over it.

Because it’s an absolute beaut. At a time when so many Chimaeras, especially the ultra-desirable 500, have been thrashed mercilessly before being cheaply tarted up to take advantage of a rising market, this one shows nothing other than diligent maintenance and a series of careful owners.

Which will be reflected in the price.

We estimate it should fetch anything from £15,000 all the way to £19,000. But, that might not be the bad news you think because the market values the best cars very highly, so while you might spend a bit more up front, you should get that premium back when the time comes to sell.

Besides, can you think of a better way to get to Le Mans next year?

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

PetrolheadNut

  • Location: The Market HQ Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 48850
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Estimated Price: £15,000 - £19,000

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