Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


ECCENTRICITIES ARE PART of the English cottage industry tradition, with the TVR sports car an example. Here in Part 2, we continue examining the TVR Tasmin Convertible, as evaluated by R&T’s Richard Baron and me across Georgia in 1983.

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

Among the Tasmin’s attractions were styling au courant for the mid-1980s, a superlative retractable top, and the exclusivity of hand-inscribed (and numerically low) ID.

TVR Eccentricities. “Not that the Tasmin is lacking in traditional TVR touches, however,” I wrote: “Slip into its cockpit (actually, ‘angle into’ is a more appropriate term, what with a relatively short door not opening all that far) and you’re encased in half high-tech luxury and half Fifties sports car.” 

“And encased you are,” I wrote. “The leather-faced seat  grips as it should, but its lateral support is entirely redundant owing to the proximity of a padded door panel on one side and the high transmission tunnel on the other.” 

“The top of that steeply raked windshield,” I said, “lies within a couple of inches of your head, the rearview mirror even closer and you can frighten yourself getting in at night when that unexpectedly large reflected visage comes so near.” 

“All this coupling follows a certain logic, though; like previous TVRs,” I wrote, “the Tasmin is a front/mid-engine car with its 2792-cc German Ford V-6 located relatively far aft.”

Tea-break Lapses. Data Panel performance figures suggested that perhaps the Blackpool lads were a trifle lax at times. I wrote, “… the best we recorded was an average 0-60 mph in 11.8 seconds and quarter-mile results of 18.5 sec at 74.0 mph, both quite a bit off the pace of UK sources suggesting 7.8 sec and 15.8 sec at 86.0 mph, respectively, for the same tests.”

I noted that “the British tend to be especially adept at extracting maximum performance from their own motorcars, but we and a frustrated Peter Bircumshaw sensed that our brace of TVRs was suffering from more than homesickness.”

“And, indeed,” I continued, “once a vast continent separated R&T from Newnan it was confirmed that the electronic control units of both cars had been packing up and there was also a Blackpool fix in the works.”

With this in mind, I imagined a lad from Stalling Busk being new to TVR’s apprentice program. 

A Disappearing TVR. Our track evaluations were compromised by local airport tarmac being unexpectedly slick and with an intermediate sag that caused the Tasmin to disappear from observers in the middle of its run.

What’s more, braking was hampered by Tasmin rear lockup; this, despite a deceleration sensor that was designed to reduce rear pressure when retardation exceeded 0.5g. “Later in the same phone communication when Peter cited the bogus engine electronics,” we learned of “a Telex from Blackpool warning that some cars may have had their fore/aft braking circuits reversed.”

That Stalling Busk lad again?

A Nutball Confession. Our Tasmin road test subhead read “Hey, nutball, have we got a car for you!” 

Indeed, I offered several examples of potential eccentricity: “We’ve noticed your bronze-tipped walking sticks and Sherpa jackets in the cloakroom of obscure little Lithuanian restaurants… your Citroën 2CV parked in front of art houses showing interminable Super-8 footage of raindrops on blossoming phlox.” 

This prompted the magazine to publish “More Power to You, Nutball,” in December 1983: “It has come to our attention that several readers may have been put off by our Engineering Editor’s use of the term ‘nutball’ in reference to those appreciating the TVR automobile (see August 1983). What he failed to note explicitly in that report was his own natural inclusion in that category.”

Gee, I thought the reference to “obscure little Lithuanian restaurants” would have implied this. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

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