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1998 TVR Griffith 500

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1998 TVR Griffith 500

Background

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

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 340bhp and either 320lb/ft or 350lb/ft of torque, depending on whether a catalytic convertor has been fitted or not.

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. 

If, as Top Gear say, every petrolhead should own an Alfa Romeo at some point in their life, then every frustrated Le Mans racer needs to have owned a V8-powered TVR before they die…

The Vehicle

The TVR’s first owner took delivery the car on the 14th March 1998 from the supplying dealer, TMS TVR of Melton Mowbray. Since then every single owner seems to have fallen in love with the car and cherished it like their first-born child.

Having returned to the UK after twenty years in California, the vendor decided to treat himself to the TVR Griffith he’d always yearned for. He found this one after a wide-ranging search and has now owned it for five years, during which time he has invested a lot of time and money to keep it in the condition you see today. 

He’s kept it garaged when it wasn’t being used and only used it sparingly in good weather, covering around 3,000 miles in five years. As a result, he’s come to realise that he’s not really appreciating in the way it deserves and so would like to see it go to someone who is in a position to use it more frequently. 

On the Outside

The Starmist Green coachwork is in fine fettle, thanks to a combination of TVR production engineering, understanding owners and a front end refresh in 2000, which comprised a partial respray to remove the stonechips as well as the installation of a pair of smoked grey tinted headlamp covers. 

A rear light conversion was then carried out in March 2012, and the two upgrades are not only extremely subtle but lift the look of the car slap-bang into the 21st century, evoking the look of the final, limited-edition Griffiths.

It looks so good that we think it finally puts to rest the theory that it is impossible to get tight, even shutlines on a glassfibre car. I mean, just look at it; it’s taut and lithe and looks as good now as the day it did when it rolled off the production lines in Blackpool. Please arrange a viewing to see for yourself prior to auction end.

A new beige mohair hood was fitted in 2009 and it is still in very good condition, being water-tight and free of rips, tears and other damage.

On the Inside

The leather seats are also free of rips and tears but they are a little bit cracked and lightly patinated. Having taken a close look, we think a decent upholsterer/trimmer could bring them back to a more presentable condition without too great an expenditure or you could, of course, just leave them as they are and get on with the important business of enjoying simply being behind the wheel of a true British classic.

The rest of the interior is in very good condition and all the gauges, switches and toys work as they should with the exception of the electric mirrors. The owner understands that this is a common fault but this was the one thing he hasn’t got round to sorting it out himself. Also the clock has a habit of running backwards….

Underneath

The comprehensive service history is extraordinarily detailed and records the many minor remedial works that were carried out as part of its servicing regimen. No expense appears to have been spared over the years, resulting in what might just be the most sorted TVR we’ve ever driven. 

Every routine servicing bill from Mole Valley TVR in the early noughties was for well over four-figures, which must have made for uncomfortable viewing by its then owner but is exactly the sort of thing the canny TVR buyer likes to see when considering a purchase.

The previous owner had the Rover V8 engine overhauled in 2012 and it now starts perfectly, ticks over evenly and opens the gates of Hell when you prod the throttle. Seriously, turn up the volume and listen to end of the video; glorious, isn’t it?

Gaz Pro dampers were fitted at the same time as the engine work was carried out, and the underside was professionally cleaned and Waxoyled. The previous owner had the car professionally checked and then commissioned further chassis work in 2013, including the replacement of a pair of outriggers and some repairs to some of the mounting points in the glassfibre floor. A few other bits and bobs were sorted while it was there, including  exhaust manifold repairs, some minor chassis fettling, and a full service. 

In total, this work cost him almost £6,500 but we think it was worth every penny as it has seriously refreshed the car, leaving it fighting fit and ready to face the next decade in uncommonly good condition. As always with any TVR (or maybe any low-volume British sports car for that matter), none of this guarantees a trouble-free future, but it does start to weight the odds in your favour.

It’s also had matching new front tyres fitted recently. That we think matching tyres are an invaluable indicator of the quality of care that a car has received might be something you are bored of reading about but please, take our advice and weight your decision-making appropriately…

History Highlights

The TVR comes with two sets of keys and the original leatherette wallet containing the service history book and the owner’s manual. The service book itself meticulously documents the work that has been carried out on it, from its initial 1,000-mile inspection after only a month of ownership and 931 miles through to its last service on the 2nd November 2015 at 59,996 miles. In all, 12 services stamps are present spanning the lifetime of the vehicle. Not many left that can claim that.

The car will also be supplied with an original sales brochure for the model, along with a sales invoice for its purchase in 1999 for £28,000 - or £47,000 in today’s money.

There are also a number of old invoices and bills that detail the owners’ meticulous stewardship of the TVR over the years as well as a number of expired MOT certificates. 

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained and restored to the very highest standard.

What We Think

A lot of TVR Griffiths have fallen prey to owners with Champagne tastes but lemonade budgets; this is not one of those cars. The service and refurbishment history is remarkable and as meticulously documented as it was carried out.

And now is the time to look for a Griffith like this because we think the market is almost certainly going to experience something of an upturn; in the same way that the prices of the original Honda NSX rose when the new version was launched, we can see the value of the original Griffith rising now TVR has announced the existence of the new, Gordon Murray designed, Griffith.

We think this example will sell for between £17,000 and £22,000, a price that reflects its condition as well as the fact that there are still a couple of minor jobs to do on the car. With these carried out, we think the new owner will be in the enviable position of not only having a great example of a world-class sportscar in their garage, but will also have invested their money in what must surely be an appreciating asset.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen here at Patina HQ in Abingdon as well as at the NEC Classic Car Show between the 9th and 11th of November; 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, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.

EU & BREXIT - If you are bidding from overseas & planning to export your vehicle abroad, you should be aware of two important things: 1) There is no VAT on used cars in the UK. 2) After Brexit, you might have to pay import tax in your country.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, CLASSIC CONCIERGE LTD for storing your car and an array of regional providers for transporting it.

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 the vehicles 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, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 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

mkirby007

  • Location: Abingdon
  • Odometer Reading: 61000
  • Chassis Number: SDLDGC5P5VL012382
  • Engine: 5000
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: Green
  • Interior: Cream Leather

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