TVR enjoyed something of a renaissance during the 1990s. After the brutal Griffith and the softer-but-still-mean Chimaera, they unleashed the Cerbera
onto the world.
The Cerbera was essentially a stretched, two-plus-two coupe version of the Chimaera. TVR called it a car for the family man
, but only if his kids were contortionists. There was loads of space up front though, and it was rather handsome. But that didn't matter. The Cerbera was all about its beast of an engine
The Cerbera's 4.2-litre, V8 'Speed Eight' motor was TVR's first in-house engine, after decades of using the Rover V8. It was inspired by F1 engines of the time and featured a 75 degree 'V' and a flat-plane crank. The result was 360bhp and 320lb ft in a car that weighed just 1100kg. That's a lot!
Performance was biblical. 0-60mph was pummeled in 4.6 seconds, 100mph in under ten. Flat out, you would be doing 185mph. The Cerbera could blow pretty much anything into the weeds. A point Jeremy Clarkson proved when he drag raced one against some its fastest rivals.
The Cerbera's handling was surprisingly friendly for a TVR, but only up to a point. Its longer wheelbase and long-travel suspension made it comfortable and forgiving most of the time, though the super-quick steering could feel twitchy. But it was still massively powerful and had no driver aids
whatsoever. Over-step the mark and it would spit you into the scenery before you could even blink.
And that was in the dry. Add water and it would have been easier to tango with a grizzly bear. I know. I once saw one spin out on a damp dual carriageway when the driver just tried to change lanes. He wasn't even going that fast.
The Cerbera was bonkers to drive. And bonkers to sit in, too. The sweeping dashboard looked like it had come out of a spaceship. There were dials below the steering wheel and no door handles. To get in, you pressed a button under the wing mirror. To get out? Actually I don't know. There was a button somewhere...
Later on, there was a six-cylinder Speed Six version and the V8 got bigger and more powerful. The last-of-line Red Rose version had 440bhp, enough for a 60mph sprint in under four seconds and a top speed approaching 200mph. And let's not forget the mythical, ferocious Speed 12.
Built for GT1 racing, the Speed 12 had a 7.7-litre V12 nuclear bomb of an engine. TVR said it had 800bhp, but they didn't really know. It could have had 1000. Top speed? Pick a number. 220, 230, 240 even. We'll never know. GT1 was canned before it took to the track but it had some success it the British GT Championship.
A road-going version nearly made it to production. Plenty of deposits were taken, even with a price tag of £188,000. But TVR's chairman Peter Wheeler, an experienced racer himself, decided it was undriveable on the road. They did eventually sell one though, to a specially vetted (incredibly brave) buyer.
The Cerbera was a TVR so it had some reliability issues, mostly electrical. And the fibreglass body smelt of glue. But a good one should have had its problems sorted by now and will only set you back about £15,000
. Which isn't a lot for one of the most ferociously fast, bonkersly brilliant
cars ever built in Britain.
Bet you didn't know:
The last Cerbera was actually built in 2006, a pet project for TVR's then-owner Nikolay Smolensky. It was auctioned off and sold for £45,000. The Blackpool factory closed a few months later.