An Interview with a Chimaera
During TVR’s glory days in the 1990s the Chimaera was the British manufacturer’s most successful model.
We caught up with a Chimaera recently at Silverstone and got the inside track straight from the mouth of the fire breathing beast.
Influx: So first off what’s with the name?
Chimaera: Well it’s from a Greek legend about a beast that is composed from bits of other animals. I guess that’s what the marketing boys were getting at, I’m made up of the best bits of others that were in our stable at the time.
Influx: Ok, specifically which others and which bits?
Chimaera: For the most part Griffith, that is I’m from the same basic chassis, except I was designed as a tourer so i’m a bit longer than old short stuff Griffith and I’ve got a roomier cockpit. I also share the V8 engine with him.
Influx:A bit more about your engine please.
Chimaera: You can get me in five different engine sizes from a standard four litre right through to the big Daddy five litre. With the five you get 340 bhp which will rush you to 60mph in just over four seconds and if you keep your foot down you’ll push a cool 178mph out of me at full tilt.
Influx: Impressive speed, so you can’t be too heavy?
C: Nice of you to notice. But no, like all the TVR stable, I’m fibreglass over a tubular steel frame. Keeps us all lean and mean, even as a tourer with a bigger boot than the Griffith my curb weight is still a slight 1060kg
Influx: So how did the GT improvements play out in your sales figures?
Chimaera: Without banging my own bonnet, pretty bloody well. I outsold the Griffith three to one. In fact between 1993 and 2003 I’d done 6000 units making me the most successful TVR ever, and you can check that with Norris McWhirter.
Chimaera: Not at all. It’s par for the course if you’re in production for ten years. The first was way back in ’94 when they swapped my old rover SD1 gearbox with a Borg-Warner T5. I think it was in ’96 that my wire front grill was replaced by a split intake model.
Influx: Like on the Cerbera?
Chimaera: Yeah , then in 2001 they fitted me with the new fared in headlights. The thing was that at our place all the design work and most of the components were done in house so the boss could respond to trends and demands real quickly and without big tooling costs. This was pretty rare at the time in motor the industry.
Influx: By the boss you mean Peter Wheeler?
Chimaera: Yeah sure, I never worked under anyone else. He designed me, him and John Ravenscroft.
Influx: And the rumour is that Wheeler’s dog Ned designed your front indicator recess…
Chimaera: Now you’re being ridiculous, it was a dog for Christ’s sake, next you’ll be telling me the bloody thing could talk!
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