Live Auctions

1 Of 7 Coupes: 1985 TVR 280i With 13K Miles

The TVR Tasmin is no stranger to these pages, which is odd as it wasn’t produced in huge numbers. Either there’s a faithful contigent of TVR owners keeping these wedges on the road, or they have a shockingly high survival rate. Also known as the 280i, the rarest variant is the hardtop coupe version – and this low mileage one here on eBay is said to be one of just seven that came in through the small U.S. dealer network. 

The 280i shows just 13,000 miles from new. The seller claims it was part of some sort of museum/display collection and was driven sparingly in that time. The paint, lenses, and glass all present as-new, and the twin tailpipes will provide a sufficient soundtrack to let that Ford Cologne V6 sing. This car and that engine remain on my automotive bucket list, as I love the noise the Ford-sourced mill produces. On a side note, I’m almost 99% positive those taillight lenses came from a Toyota.

One of the biggest disappointments is how torn up the interiors can look after years of top-down driving and storage. Much like Lotuses of the same era, the handbuilt craftmanship looks splendid when new, but can quickly appear downright trashed with age. Fortunately, this car’s low mileage and preserved condition means the interior shows as well as it did when it was new, which is an entirely different experience compared to most TVRs of this vintage that we feature. Even the wooden inlays look perfect.

The seller says the motor runs sweetly and the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system was recently serviced. It does look impressively clean underhood, with both painted surfaces and rubber hoses and gaskets presenting as new. With 160 b.h.p. on tap and 1,167 V6 cars made, this is equal parts exclusive and engaging, and the $15,900 Buy-It-Now seems like a good value for such a pristine example. The option to submit a best offer is still open, however.


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Jeff, as you might imagine, the want is strong with this one!!! Nice write up!

  2. 86 Vette Convertible

    Beautiful car. Only thing that sticks out to me is the way the enclosure was designed for the radio and climate controls. Most likely wouldn’t be listening to the radio vs. the undoubtedly sweet exhaust notes, though heat when it’s cold would be nice.

    • David Frank David Frank Member

      So true that, but isn’t that interior so very much nicer than the typical 1980s plastic excess?

      (and great writeup Jeff!)

  3. Jeremy holmes

    Knowing absolutely nothing about these cars I still want it based on the fact I’ve never seen one and I like it. Plus let’s face it what rare car with low miles can you buy for that price. You will be the only one with this car at cruise nights or car shows.

  4. Robert Clark

    Like a number of other ads I see on EBay, the tag line (title) has “G80” inserted as in “1985 TVR G80 Coupe
    TVR 280i Coupe Beautiful All Original Survivor”


    • DonK

      I see the G80 on a lot of cars in the “other makes” section. BTW, I think the tail lights were from the Jenson Healey.

  5. johnfromct

    Can’t believe this is still available.

  6. the one

    nice to see one in such nice condition

  7. Mike O'Dee

    I first saw Phil Collins (‘Phil the Shrill’) driving a white one on an episode of Miami Vice when I was about 12 or 13. They seemed so exotic to my young mind, have had a soft spot for them ever since!

  8. sdwarf36

    Theres a reason why there were so few coupes made in 84/85. (I worked for the TVR importer just after that.) And you can see it in the picture. Notice the massive door gap? Well there was a little accident…the mold for the couple body fell off a forklift and broke. There were debating not fixing it (there was a new series of convertible coming out soon-and no coupe. But there were still orders out there-so they repair the mold. And it wasn’t near what it was before. The door opening is like 1″ different side to side!
    I had to do pre- deliver checking of all the cars coming in the country. And yes I had to redo things and check over the cars well. When a coupe came in, I laughed when I saw the gap-and figured I better get it before it goes to a dealer. There was no way I could get it acceptable. When I called the factory to ask what they wanted me to do is when I got the story of the “oops.”
    Ever see the Top Gear episode when the went to closed Britsh car factories-and went to TVR? You can see the body molds stacked up outside the place.

  9. Kevin Sellwood

    Those rear lights. The European Tasmins used Rover SD1 clusters installed upside down. Maybe the North American cars did as well and someone has fitted whatever they could find on this particular car, although I doubt it because the filler pieces that are taking up the slack between the body and the installed lamps looks as if they are original. Why wouldn’t they just use the Rover units? They look infinitely better.

  10. Nova Scotian

    Attractive body style…for the times.

  11. Jubjub

    I think those are the Hillman Hunter sources taillamps. Mine has the Capri MkIII taillamps and they’re much nicer looking.

  12. Eric S Cook

    The thing that sticks out to me here, is the extra 10k. True, more ragtops are around, but I see plenty equivalent interiors and similar mileage and condition go for 3-5K. Thats a heck of a lot of roof. I don’t wanna be a Debbie Downer, and if you dig it 15k worth, you’ll be in an exclusive crowd, for sure. Some people dig a Ford V6, who am I anyway? You could find a ragtop in good shape, a M3 that needs some TLC, drop a junkyard LS3 in it, turn some wrenches for a couple weeks, and still have plenty of cash to burn few sets plum off over the weekend while ya pay a kid to condition the leather in your convertible. It’s all in how ya see it I reckon, and if you’re happy … I’m stoked. The Samaritan in me felt compelled to share some alternative ideas and additional thoughts.

    Much love!!

    PS – Whoever is running the show on this, kudos!!! Many times over. UI happiness everywhere, great content, personal feel. I dig it, and I’ll look forward to those emails. I have a daughter turning driving age this year. I just looked at 2 of these for 4k, so I had a shock moment when at the end I saw 5 figures. I’m sure you started this to help folks find good deals, so you get it, I’m sure. If you ever need a hand with write ups or art stuff, I’d help pro bono. I’m retired and have time occasionally, so feel to ask should the need arise. I think I’ll break from the ride search for her and see what goodies come to the email. Have a great one!!!


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