One of 192: 1965 TVR Griffith

I am part of a very informal local “club” of enthusiasts that partake in monthly driving tours and a member has a later TVR Tuscan, which bears some resemblance to this desirable Griffith model. While the engineering is a bit different, the overall purpose is the same: light-weight, and lots of motor. This example was built in far more limited quantities than my colleague’s Tuscan, as only 192 were made and they were somewhat bonkers in concept as a Ford-sourced 289 V8 was the engine of choice for this incredibly compact coupe. You have to have some level of skill to drive one safely, but most cars worth owning come with that warning label. Find the TVR here on eBay in Stamford, Connecticut with bidding approaching $43K and the reserve unmet.

It’s incredible to look at how compact the TVR’s proportions are and realize that drivers actually shoehorned themselves inside and drove them in competitive events. This was sort of the genesis of the Griffith, as its creators wanted to build a rival to the AC Cobra. The formula was incredibly similar, to take a light-weight British sports car and drop an American V8 inside, and just see if it worked. TVR was more than happy to supply some rolling chassis, which weighed approximately 1,900 pounds with the 289 dropped in, with outputs ranging from 200 b.h.p. to 225 b.h.p., and a few having even more if the owner opted for the high-performance 289 option.

The interior has most frequently been described as claustrophobic, and from this vantage point, you can see why. There’s virtually no room for anything other than sitting and driving, and some might even say you wear the car once inside. The gas tank is right behind you, the engine right in front of you, and a toploader transmission falls readily to hand to put it all into motion. The seller doesn’t go into great detail about the cosmetics of this car, other than noting he had the seats redone when he was in the process of restoring the cabin on another Griffith. This car has a locked-up rear end but a good working spare will be included in the sale. The seller notes the frame outriggers are rusted through.

The seller claims he has another car he has restored completely, and that’s why this example is for sale. It’s possible he bought this one and then found a better car without rust issues, or simply he knew how rare they are and it’d be foolish to pass on grabbing another one if the price was right. Certainly, you don’t pay to have the seats redone if you don’t expect to keep it. The seller is confident that the engine will fire up once some fuel and cooling system work is completed, and the engine does turn freely. These are special cars that offer an affordable alternative to a genuine Shelby Cobra, with even more exclusivity. Grab your driving gloves and find your favorite road without too many cliffs or trees lining the side.

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  1. Poppapork

    I considered buying one in 2008 but got scared of part unavailability. The example i was after needed TLC but was drivable with tags and all and the ask was 8grand. I bought a c3 corvette instead as my first classic. Judging by the ask on this one I was wrong!

    Like 4
    • harvey paul

      These cars are beast , saw my first one in the 70s , never forgot it ! Raw performance !
      They really did out perform cobras , thats saying a lot !
      Cool as it gets !
      With only a few left out there , for sure ! With so few produced .Remember this is a production car !
      How are these not worth more then cobras ?
      This car is a steal at todays bid and the real deal !

      Like 2
  2. Gaspumpchas

    I have heard that the handling can get really squirrely in a dangerous way on these.. Love the concept and shoehorning a 289 with a toploader in this is very cool. Lotsa coin; looker over good and stay safe!!

    Like 2
    • Vince H


      I had the chance to drive one. They went like a bat out of **** aand got scary real quick.


      you missed out on a good deal

  3. CJinSD

    Bidding at 58K and reserve unmet? I’ve been around a few early TVRs, including a Griffith and a Tuscan V8. There is a level of amateurism to their design and construction that is hard to reconcile with current bidding, although at least you’ll be able to restore it to factory-fresh standards in your backyard.

    Like 7
  4. luke arnott Member

    Build quality on TVR’s has always been a joke.The threatened resumption of production seems as far away as ever.

    • Sunbeam

      Build quality can be a challenge for sure. On the other hand, modern restoration techniques on vintage cottage industry practices can alleviate most…if not all issues on these old Griffiths…yielding an exhilarating and robust motorcar. For those not interested…man created Lexus.

      Like 2
  5. Snafuracer

    My Dad had six Griffiths in his lifetime. Including his first which he bought new from the NY Auto Show floor back in 1965. He taught me how to steer with the throttle in his maroon one that had ported 351 heads. It was an absolute ROCKET. Definitely required the driver to be on their toes! I was able to drive it a few times and it made me love the Ford V8! Very tight cockpit which was cool as a kid but now I think I would sprain something getting in or out! Will always love Griffiths and the memories of Dad’s stories with his! Like how he smoked his buddies 289 Cobra regularly….

    Like 9
  6. bikefixr

    $58,000 and reserve not met? Seriously? It was ugly then, it’s still ugly, and it’ll be just as ugly tomorrow. Add in about $50k in resto this really a $100+K car?

    Like 4
  7. Johnny

    For the asking price. I,m sure you could find someone(s) or yourself and make yourself alot better set of wheels. I like it,but not the price.

    Like 1
  8. James

    I owned Mark Donahue? Sebring TVR for about a year. It was one of my favorites, but definitely a handful on the road. I had an opportunity to ride in Carol Shelby’s personal 427 Cobra. I’m not sure that a comparison is fair. Two very different cars. That being said, if I had an extra $100K lying around and needed yet another garage Queen, frankly it would not be either of those cars. It would probably be a vintage NSX. Good luck to the buyer looking for parts will become a fulltime job.

  9. Lance

    A guy I knew had one of these many years ago.I remember trying to sit in one of these TVR’s when I was a lot younger and weighed less. It was impossible then so I can imagine what it would be like now. No thanks.

    Like 1
  10. G-W

    The visible chassis rust and all that power would not be a good combination. My Calculus 100 prof had a 4 cylinder silver TVR of this vintage. Interesting taste in cars but he couldn’t teach calculus if his life depended upon it!

  11. Richard

    “Looking for parts will be a fulltime job”? Really guys? The Ford running gear is easy to find and TVR used brakes & steering from other British sports cars of the period. Any half decent trimmer can do the rest of the interior… The chassis is simple round tubing (although some were bonded to the body which makes for a longer job to remove it).
    I’m restoring a 1971 Vixen with a 302 and Toploader. It has Triumph TR4-6 brakes and steering. Nothing is hard to find and even the rear window can be had in lexan.
    Restore it in your own garage with simple hand tools…!

    Like 3
  12. Sunbeam

    Fantastic opportunity to own a rare, high performance piece of history. Less than a few dozen series 200 left on the road. Drivers are in the $85,000 to $100,000 range…with stellar restored examples reaching $150,000 plus. Unbelievable performance with Ford 289 reliability hooked to a virtually indestructible 4 speed topload transmission. Take a few pounds of a Sunbeam Tiger and you get a Shelby Cobra…take a few more pounds off a Cobra and you get Griffith 200. Unbelievable power to weight ratio. Why buy a “continuation” Cobra for $125,000 plus when you can buy a real piece of Anglo-American automotive history that will rise in value over the years. As stated by Rich Taylor of Modern Classics back in the 1970s “I’ve driven a Griffith once and vowed never to sit in one again. My racing Yamaha motorcycle at 150 mph at Daytona is safer than a Griffith sitting in your garage. If ever there was a killer car this is it. Flimsy, overpowered, really. Vicious handling that will spin you out just accelerating away from the curb….there has never been a more dangerous production automobile.”  Griffith 200 are worth the price of admission…and will continue to rise in value as the automotive community rediscovers these rare and exhilarating rides.

    Like 4
    • Brakeservo

      I am a (former) Griffith owner. The day of the $million dollar Griffith approaches, perhaps delayed by Covid-19, but it is coming. The only things that will stop it are either a complete economic meltdown or the return of sanity to collector car pricing.

      Like 2

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