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CELEBRATING TVR, GEORGIA KIMCHI, AND ECCENTRICITY IN GENERAL PART 1

CLASSIC & SPORTS CAR (my favorite Brit car magazine) reports “TVR has recently revealed that its forthcoming Griffith will have an electrically powered version. On top of that, the company is sponsoring this year’s Formula E championship.” 

“Yes, TVR. That TVR,” C&SC reminds us. 

This brought back vivid recollections of the British sports car cottage industry, Georgia kimchi, slick uneven airport tarmac, and eccentricity in general. These were all based on R&T’s August 1983 road test of the TVR Tasmin Convertible. Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits about this adventure.

This and following images from R&T, August 1983.

Background. TVR is an enduring example of British cottage industry. This sports car began in Blackpool (sort of the U.K.’s Asbury Park/Coney Island/Pigeon Forge) with enthusiast TreVoR Wilkinson in 1946. There have been other principals; the years 1981–2004 (and my TVR involvement) were the Peter Wheeler era, followed by Russian oligarch Nikolay Smolensky’s up till 2013. Check out Wikipedia for especially elaborate details, though I’d be curious to identify the time that TVR was “the third-largest specialized sports car manufacturer in the world.” Really?

Our Georgia TVR. Let’s call 1983 “my TVR era,” with R&T’s Richard Baron and I traveling to Newnan, Georgia, southwest of Atlanta, to test the Tasmin Convertible. There, TVR importer/ex-pat Englishman Peter Bircumshaw told us, “I saw that cover story in March 1981, and the part about no U.S. importer gave me the idea. So you people are responsible for whatever happens now, you see.”

R&T March 1981. (Bound volumes complicate full scans.)

Back in 1983, I noted TVR had been “doing an admirable job of keeping more than a few Blackpool lads off the streets for nearly 19 years now.” The Tasmin had appeared only a couple years before, looking “like a real car, not the truculent troll, the ferret with an oversupply of Y chromosomes.”

Above,1966 TVR Griffith 400; image by Profdeuce at English Wikipedia. Below, the R&T Tasmin Convertible.

Tasmin Pluses. “In truth,” I wrote, “the Tasmin is considerably less outrageous in its wrapping of fiberglass around mechanicals than any previous Blackpool product. Its front end comes across particularly well, with pop-up headlights and clean styling marred only by a well integrated bumper that grew a bit in concession to U.S. requirements.”

The Tasmin’s convertible top was deemed “absolutely exemplary in design and operation. It’s a 2-piece assembly, a fiberglass panel overhead and a folding soft portion held in place by two pivoting channels to the rear…. Indeed, TVR moves into the late 20th century with real side glass, operated electrically, in fact—not the sliding side curtains that made the previous Taimar Roadster such a delightful anachronism.” 

In traveling the fringe of a massive storm crossing Georgia, Richard Baron and I stayed utterly dry without “the classic flapping and billowing of a traditional soft top. And in another break with rich British tradition, the car’s electrics were fully up to running the lights, wiper (an oversize single variety), a/c blower and stereo simultaneously.”

It was during that Georgia touring we encountered the Mirror of Korea restaurant. Its charming waitress, perhaps Georgia-bred, had the neatest southern drawl (“Fu’wahd wice, suh?”). The kimchi was great too. 

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll learn that TVR hadn’t lost its eccentricities, including utterly unnecessary lateral support and test results that weren’t quite as superlative as those appearing in its home-market magazines. There’s also an uneven playing field and how I squirmed out of the term “nutball.” ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

2 comments on “CELEBRATING TVR, GEORGIA KIMCHI, AND ECCENTRICITY IN GENERAL PART 1

  1. Richard Baron
    May 28, 2022

    Best pork fried rice I have ever had in Georgia!!

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