British Supercar: 1997 TVR Cerbera

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Before we embark on this next review, true confession: I’d really like to own an early TVR Griffith. I would even settle for a Grantura. That’s just so you know I am not anti-TVR. However, the Cerbera is a different animal altogether. It was constructed during one of the many stressful periods that afflicted TVR – this one brought about by the sale of Rover to BMW. With its source of engines potentially disappearing, TVR decided to insulate its supply chain by developing its own engine – an enormously expensive venture. The new engine was based on racing configurations seldom seen in a road car, including a 75-degree angle between cylinder banks and a flat-plane (vs a cross-plane) crankshaft. It was fuel-injected, compact, and lightweight. Its power output was impressive at 360 hp (4.2 liter V8) – enough to jet from zero to sixty in 4.2 seconds. Top speed approached 185 mph. These performance statistics are aided by the car’s 2425 lb curb weight. Our subject car has seen many cosmetic changes including new paint (it was originally British Racing Green), new interior appointments, even a matching orange cover for its owner’s manual. Missing is the mechanical history – crucially important for a happy Cerbera experience.


The Cerbera was produced from 1996 through 2006. Only 1490 examples were sold, and of those, some were straight sixes, some were 4.2 V8s, and some were 4.5s. The number of 4.2 engines is vanishingly small, which doesn’t auger well for the supply of parts. TVR’s V8 was known as the Speed Eight and as mentioned, horsepower was prodigious. But as if the V8 weren’t enough, TVR made three Speed Twelves. Horsepower was variable – 800 without restrictors, but about 675 when the FIA imposed its will on fuel delivery. The car was simply too fast to handle, so the project was scrapped. But I digress: our subject car’s engine was rebuilt 30k miles ago in England and is said to run and drive well. The odometer now reads 87,150. The gearbox is a Borg Warner five-speed manual. The car’s underside exhibits surface rust, but not more than expected given its age and use.

The seats are from a later TVR Tamora, and the interior has been completely refurbished to complement the car’s exterior including quilted leather upholstery, carbon fiber and leather door panels, even a quilted headliner. The carpet is orange and black throughout. I pulled this photo from the video embedded in the listing – that’s what you call a multi-function steering wheel! The seller reports that the wipers and washers are not working; photos show the wipers have been partially disassembled.


And now, fair warning: I wouldn’t venture a bid on this car without a thorough investigation of prior maintenance, perhaps including a chat with the car’s prior caretakers, because the advent of the Cerbera was not TVR’s finest moment. Early engines give trouble, and even after sorting, owners suffer agony foisted upon their pocketbooks by a myriad of other issues. If you’re determined to own a rare British supercar, this TVR Cerbera is listed here on eBay, bid to $10,100, reserve not met. The new owner can retrieve it from New Hyde Park, New York, and I’ll wager he won’t see any other Cerberas on the road on the way home.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Melton Mooney

    No Viper influence whatsoever.

    Like 13
  2. Timmy VMember

    The Cerbera episode of “Wheeler Dealers” is one of my favorites. Edd had to replace the entire tube-steel chassis because of rust. Shocking to watch, common problem with these.

    Like 9
    • Michael Hullevad

      The TWR chassis is a “Birdcage”, maybe inspired by Maserati.
      but they at least end-caped the tubing so they would not rust from within

      Like 1
  3. Tommy T-Tops

    If a Viper had a one night stand with a Sunbeam Tiger…GLWTA

    Like 5
  4. Ryan

    They tried to sell this car twice on BaT this year. It was bid to $28k the first time and $15k the second time. I’m curious where the seller has their reserve set.

    Like 4
  5. RayTMember

    Obviously, Michelle has good taste. Who wouldn’t want a TVR Griffith? Except for those who don’t want to be scared out of their wits, that is…. I’d love one.

    Not so much a Cerb. Years ago, I saw one in California (with an out-of-state plate, of course), but it was a garage queen. The owner was waiting for parts to repair an unspecified engine issue. For all I know, he’s still waiting.

    The TVR story is a little sad. The earler cars, with their proprietary drivetrains, had a pretty good reputation for decent build quality and reliability. The over-ambitious move mode to building their own powerplants destroyed that quickly.

    But I still want a Griffith.

    Like 3
  6. CCFisher

    Were these poorly built, or has this one seen some things? I’ve seen better panel fit on a Tesla.

    Like 2
  7. Martin Horrocks

    Think these comments a little hard. The Cerbera was a magnificent concept….and some of them worked. Probably not this one.

    As a TVR alternative, cjeck out the Ginetta G33. Beautiful and flawed, fewer than 100 built, all in RHD, so all in UK. But wonderful for less than $20000.

    Like 0
  8. Joe Haska

    Thanks, great history lesson. I knew absolutely zip about these cars.

    Like 4
  9. jwaltb

    Hi Michelle,
    An auger is a carpentry tool. Augur is an omen or premonition. I had to check the dictionary to get it spelled right.

    Like 2
    • Michelle RandAuthor

      Aha! Thanks for the correction. I will never view my garden auger in quite the same light…..

      Like 0
  10. jwaltb

    I knew a guy who bought a Griffith new in the 60s. It was a tiny and awesomely fast car. Great until it caught on fire and burned to the ground.

    Like 0
    • Martin Horrocks

      The 60s Griffith was a fearsome machine, huge torque and ultra short wheelbase with a tendency to snap driveshafts. But now sorted out in vintage racing a good Hriffith runs at the front at Goodwood.

      But I think that Michelle refers to the 1990s TVR Griffith, still fierce but less deadly than the 60s coupé.

      Like 0
      • jwaltb

        Thanks Martin,
        She does say TVR Griffith. I didn’t know there is such a thing.

        Like 0
  11. Derek

    There was a modern Griffith – around the same age as this car – and also a race series for them. They were on the Touring Car support card for a while; I remember a race at Knockhill where it hailed (open cars, mind). I took photos – Alistair McRae was racing – and it looks like a disc camera photo, it’s so grainy with the hail.

    I think that they used the AJP engines too.

    The 60s Griffiths were a Vixen with a small-block Ford V8 in, more or less.

    Like 0
  12. David Sutcliffe

    Everyone but me missed out on buying this beast! It is now in my garage in NC, where it will be given a thorough sorting out. The wipers work now (bad ground wire), the engine is extremely sweet sounding and has a LOT of power. The service history is plentiful – not a penny spared over the years and it is in excellent health. I’ve had half a dozen Wheeler TVRs and they are all built in a unique way, but to a price point that rivals couldn’t come close to. It’s true that they’re not as sorted as volume-produced cars but that’s not surprising at all. Car buffs, especially us that like to wield a wrench, love this kind of car. Find me a more interesting, powerful, unique car for the money!

    Like 0

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