1985 TVR 280i
6-cyl. 2792cc/145hp Bosch FI
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
TVR replaced their long-running M-series with the wedge shaped Tasmin in 1980, available in both two-seat coupe and convertible form, with the convertible allowing for top-up, top-down, and Targa-style configurations courtesy of a smartly designed center roof panel. Oliver Winterbottom of Lotus fame designed the body, which sat on a steel tube frame. TVR relied heavily on Ford components for wheels, brakes, front suspension, the four-speed transmission, and of course the engine, which was a Ford Cologne V-6 in a 160-hp state of tune.
By the time the Tasmin reached the U.S. in 1983 it was called the TVR 280i, and the German Ford V-6 had been smogged down to 145 hp. The car did boast leather interior and burled walnut trim, but the 280i’s 0-60 time was a tad too close to 10 seconds for its $25,000 price tag, and reportedly inconsistent build quality held sales to only 1,200 or so, with most being convertibles.
Even with the stated problems noted, there is still plenty to like about the TVR 280i. It is a comfortable tourer with predictable and engaging handling traits. Not surprisingly for a low-volume British car, electrical problems can be an issue and one should also check for rust in the tube frame. With these areas considered, the TVR 280i offers hand-built exclusivity married to Ford mechanical reliability for used Mazda Miata money.