1994 TVR Griffith 500

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1994 TVR Griffith 500

Background

For those of you not familiar with the model, the Griffith 500 is the ultimate standard model in the Griffith range. Powered by a five-litre Rover V8, it produces a claimed 340bhp and 475Nm of torque.

And while the TVR Griffith is famous for making some rather nice noises and adopting a tail-happy cornering style, few appreciate that the venerable Rover V8 engine only has just over a metric tonne to pull; while Lotus gathers all the praise for engineering a range of (admittedly rather fine) lightweight cars, TVR just quietly got along with manufacturing one of the most pared-back usable sportscars of its generation.

How pared back? Well, with a power-to-weight ratio of 320bhp/tonne the Griffith 500 streaks to 60mph in a fraction over 4 seconds on its way to a top speed of almost 170mph - but it’s the mid-range torque and intoxicating noise that live with you long after you’ve shut the engine down.

As a result of the lack of driver aids combined with over-enthusiastic driving, the Griffith - like many TVRs before it - gained somewhat of a reputation as being a handful to drive. On the limit, that reputation is rightly deserved, but as long as you don’t fancy yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton whilst blasting along a twisting B-Road, the Griffith is an impressively usable and incredibly rewarding sports car - just treat it with a little respect!

Mechanical almost identical to the Chimaera, the Griffith was produced in much smaller numbers, making it rarer and, in our opinion, much more desirable.

The Vehicle

First registered on 9 February 1994, this Griffith 500 was supplied to a Mr Henning by Harrogate Horseless Carriages Ltd. He seems to have split his time between south Cumbria and East Sussex and kept the car for around 7 years, ensuring it was serviced at least annually.

The car then spent a few years near Edinburgh before crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland until 2012. A few years in Worcestershire was then followed by a similar stint in Suffolk before the 6th owner - our vendor - bought the car in 2016.

Having studied aeronautical engineering at Farnborough he then got a job with McLaren on their race team. At the time, Gordon Murray was designing the McLaren F1 and he used to come into work either in a Honda NSX or his TVR Griffith. Our vendor was smitten but wasn’t in a position to be able to afford one at the time.

About 7 years ago, with falling prices and increasing means, he set about finding a Griffith but it took a year of scrutinising many poorly kept examples before he settled on this car which he bought from TVR specialist Kerridges in Suffolk.

Using it only from April to October - typically SORN’ed and put away for the winter months - it was his weekend toy for spirited runs around the countryside. He also took it on a TVR Club road trip into France, visiting the northern beaches, Paris, across to the west coast and home.

A couple of years ago he put the car off the road again to travel to Australia and New Zealand, returning to a pandemic lockdown which further curtailed its use. Now, although free of public health restrictions, a new baby means that he is rarely travelling with fewer than two passengers and a sporty daily driver has become his go to car for all occasions.

Prior to him driving the Griffith to us, he sent it to Str8Six (not far from us along the Chilterns) and had them give it a thorough nose-to-tail going over to make sure all was as it should be.

On the Outside

The Griffith is painted in what the original docket refers to as BRG - which could stand for Brooklands or British Racing Green. Like many mechanical and trim components on their cars, TVR helped themselves to other vendors’ colours too.

Overall the paint and bodywork is pretty good, given that this is a 28 year old car. There’s just one tiny stone chip on the offside nose, a few light scuffs and scratches here and there particularly on the rear wings and a few small blemishes in the paint on the boot lid. Open the doors and you’ll also see a bit of scuffing on the edges of the door jambs and the lip of the doors.

The removable roof panel looks good, with the fabric lifting slightly in a couple of corners underneath. And the collapsible hood is also in very good order with a clear and uncreased rear plastic window. There is a little tear in the rubber seal around the passenger door window.

There is not much brightwork on a Griffith, but the stainless/chrome trim on the trailing edge of each A-pillar and the door latches look a little weathered.

The car sits on 7-spoke alloy wheels, 15-inch at the front fitted with Toyo Proxes c2016 and

16-inch rims at the back shod with Firestone Firehawk tyres fitted in May 2012. The wheels themselves look in reasonable order, no real damage - just a few scuffs and tiny chips. Behind the alloys it looks like the callipers were previously painted but now show a little surface rust.

We like to be thorough in our assessment of condition but don’t take any of the above to mean that this TVR is anything other than a great looking sports car that most drivers will be happy to be seen out and about in. A bit of judicious cutting and polishing would hit the next level and see this Griffith sparkle.

Nerdy Griffith fact: Those unusual, exotic-looking tail-lamp clusters are in fact from a humble Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3, but fitted upside down!

On the Inside

The interior trim is listed as Biscuit, half-hide - or tan if you prefer. Combined with the green carpeting, which extends to the doors and rear cabin walls, it gives a pleasing look. The leather is starting to develop a patina - especially where you’d expect on the seats which are creased and slightly worn - but there are no rips or other damage that we could see.

The sports steering wheel is made by Personal - who you may not have heard of but who were very big in Formula 1 and supplied wheels to many of the sporting marques. They now own the Nardi brand - who most people will have heard of.

Behind is the wood-veneered dashboard which is in good order aside from a small crack above the voltmeter. There are lots of dials - including the main speedo and rev counter which both have an unusual zero position - and a number of buttons and indicators which don’t seem to have anything by way of labelling to help decipher what they are or do.

The same is true for what we assume are the heating and ventilation controls below the stereo. We know that the heating works because of how hot it was in the car on the test drive but not how to control it!

The CD/Radio is a more modern unit - fitted in 2001 - and it delivers a rich bassy sound. Other electrical items tested including door mirrors and windows seem to work, although the window winders are a little slow, especially on the way up. The passenger side window looked to be fouling slightly - maybe on the torn rubber - and stopped a few mil short without assistance.

The carpet across the floor and up the interior sides of the car looks in good condition, clean and without damage. It looks like the passenger footwell lining may have been removed at some point and not properly fitted back as there’s some untucked edges by the door and under the glove box.

There is no headlining per se but the roof panel underside has a lovely carbon fibre finish. The sun visors are in good order with just a tiny split in a seam on the passenger side flap.

Given the age of the car, the interior is already very good and only needs a bit of a clean and nourish to the leather, a tidy up of the untucked carpet and that crack repaired to be in a super condition. It’s a really comfortable cabin too, with plenty of room for even the tallest of drivers thanks to the then TVR boss Peter Wheeler’s 6’6” frame.

Underneath

Popping the bonnet - which then rolls back slightly before lifting up - you realise two things: how lightweight the bonnet is (even when lined with reflective insulation) and how enormous the power-plant seems.

Whilst the V8 lump itself is pushed well back into the bulkhead, its exhaust headers stretch forward, joining up into a huge collector at the front of the engine bay before passing back down underneath the car.

Whilst there is evidence of modern upgrades, such as the alloy radiators and fans up front in the nose with their shiny tubing and blue silicone hoses connecting back to the engine, the V8 itself and its ancillaries are very honest-looking. The engine bay hasn’t been jet washed or dry-ice cleaned to hide any issues - it is just as we like it.

Underneath the car, the chassis is mostly either waxoyled or painted white. There is a little surface rust in places and across some of the suspension and steering components but nothing to trouble the MOT tester last month and there’s no evident damage to the fibreglass underbody.

The boot space is clean and tidy, and contains the spacesaver spare wheel with Bridgestone rubber, a can of tyre-weld, the battery and a charger, a Stormforce fitted car cover and the vinyl sleeve to protect the roof panel when removed.

History Highlights

The car has a current MoT valid until April 2023 with no advisories. The online MoT history only goes back to 2013 as prior to that the car was in Northern Ireland, however there are paper copies of most if not all of its past MoTs since new.

Although the odometer reads just over 38,000 miles the actual mileage is approaching 45,000 due to the speedometer being replaced at 6.7k as recorded in the service book. Also recorded are numerous specialist services, and what work isn’t stamped in the book is mostly covered by the thick file of garage bills and invoices.

Recorded servicing:

  • Apr 2022 - 38,009 - Str8Six, Lewknor
  • Jan 2016 - 33,440 - Kerridges, Suffolk
  • May 2012 - unknown - RSR Autotech, Bromsgrove *
  • Sep 2005 - 20,116 - Torque Flyte, Ballygowan
  • Apr 2002 - 11,797 - V8 Sports & Classics, Edinburgh
  • Apr 2001 - 7,690 - Harrogate Horseless Carriages (HHC), Harrogate
  • Feb 2000 - 5,558 - HHC
  • Feb 1999 - 5,067 - HHC
  • Mar 1998 - 3,573 - WLA Specialist Cars, Kent
  • Feb 1997 - 2,565 - HHC
  • Feb 1996 - 1,401 - HHC
  • Speedo changed/zeroed at 6,728
  • Oct 1994 - 5,373 - HHC
  • Feb 1994 - 1,060 - HHC
  • Feb 1994 - PDI - HHC

* not in service book

Other notable work:

  • Jan 2016 - body off outrigger replacement - not invoiced but done by Kerridges prior to sale (evidence visible under the car)
  • Aug 2012 - repair and repaint of complete front end and driver door
  • May 2012 - alloy radiators, fans and hoses, new ignition system

What We Think

A lot of TVRs fall prey to multiple owners with shallow pockets - and that was why it took our vendor so long to find the right car to buy. This example has sufficient documentation, is in good condition and has well-sorted mechanicals to show that it has been cherished and properly looked after by its six owners.

It drives as beautifully as it looks, with a glorious booming exhaust note. The mid-range acceleration is an absolute joy, with a feeling of plenty more on tap. On our test drive in the dry on a range of roads it gave us no cause for any concern over handling.

This TVR Griffith 500 is ready to rock - and that’s what it begs for, to be driven. Yes, you could polish it and fettle it some more to improve things close up but for goodness sake take it out and have some fun with it.

We think this mighty Blackpool Bruiser will sell for between £22,000 and £32,000, and we strongly encourage any interested buyers to not only get their bids in early, but also come and view the car for themselves at our HQ near Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

With stories of the Gordon Murray designed new Griffith back in the motoring press, interest in TVR’s back catalogue and the ‘90s Griffith series in particular will be on the up, so there won’t be a better time to get some Wheeler-era British muscle in your garage.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; 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

paul ledger

  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 38000
  • Chassis Number: SDLDGC5P4RM011143
  • Engine: 5000
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Brooklands Green
  • Interior: Tan Leather
  • Estimated Price: £22,000 - £32,000

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