Former TVR Boss’ Amphibious Prototype Starts Up For The First Time In 12 Years

Masterminded by former TVR boss Peter Wheeler, the Scamander could have been the ultimate off-road toy
The Scamander prototype
The Scamander prototype

TVR was never a company that did things particularly sensibly, but it was at its maddest under the ownership of Peter Wheeler. It was under his stewardship, from 1981 to 2004, that the Blackpool company started developing its own straight-six and V8 engines, as well as adopting its signature ‘flip-flop’ colour-shifting paint jobs and almost cartoonish styling.

After Wheeler sold the company, he turned his attention to other vehicular projects, namely a recreational vehicle that could go over pretty much any terrain, including water. This being a Wheeler project, though, it was never going to look normal.

The result, the Scamander, emerged as a working prototype in 2008. Named after a Greek river god, and looking like it had just driven off the set of a Judge Dredd film, it was the work of Wheeler and a small band of engineers. The styling was by Graham Browne, who also penned the TVR Tuscan, T350 and Sagaris.

The prototype was powered by a mid-mounted Ford-sourced 3.0-litre diesel V6, although Wheeler had plans to fit Rover V8s later down the line. The cockpit was accessed by a sliding canopy, where the driver would drop into a central seat, with two passenger seats on either side.

The Scamander prototype - interior
The Scamander prototype - interior

Despite the all-terrain remit, the Scamander was rear-wheel drive to keep weight down and was designed to be as fun on road as off it. Crucially, it could also float and propel itself across water at low speeds.

Sadly, the Scamander would never make it past the sole prototype stage, because Wheeler died in 2009. The prototype, however, stayed with the Wheeler family, tucked up in their barn along with a selection of special TVRs. Now, plans are afoot to allow it to see the light of day again, with the initial process documented by Harry Metcalfe of the Harry’s Garage YouTube channel, who drove the Scamander back in 2008 for evo magazine.

The Scamander prototype - driving
The Scamander prototype - driving

According to Peter’s now 20-year-old son, Joe Wheeler, the Scamander was last fired up sometime around 2012 or 2013. Remarkably, after replacing a few fuses, changing the battery and topping up the fuel, it’s able to rumble into life.

Perhaps even more impressively, after more than a decade of sitting dormant, the electric sliding canopy still works, along with the headlights, indicators and one of the two screens that display imagery from the rear-view cameras.

Joe is able to give the Scamander a quick run up and down the track leading to the Wheelers’ family home. There are plans to give it a service and MOT, so it can once again get out on the road, an utterly alien presence amongst the greenery of the English countryside.


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