One of 947: 1976 TVR 2500M

1976 TVR 2500M

For many of us, there is a car that we may have never owned yet occupies a fond place in our collection of favorite vehicles. For whatever reason, memories come flooding back every time we spot one. The original TVR 2500M is that car for me, thanks to a moss-green example that was laid up next to an old garage that my elementary school bus passed daily. It was the highlight of my day catching a glimpse at such an unusual classic on the side of the road, though it saddened me to see it sinking deeper into the ground. That’s not the case with this 14,000 original mile 2500M here on craigslist in Massachusetts, which is listed without a price and needing a new head gasket.

1976 TVR 2500M Interior

The 2500M that caught my eye those many years ago was originally spotted by my brother on the same bus route, making the story of the little TVR almost folklore between the two of us. We still reminisce about the car and how gratifying it would have been to rescue it, but it disappeared not long after I moved out of the area. Hopefully, another enthusiast picked it up as these cars are treasured by the TVR faithful. This particular example is not entirely unfamiliar to me – I spotted it at a car show in Millbury, Massachusetts many years ago. Both the car and the day feel like yesterday, as I had just acquired a 1990 Miata and taken it for an inaugural top-down cruise to the meet.

1976 TVR 2500M Engine

As I walked up and down the rows of summer drivers, the familiar rear glass and taillights of the 2500M stood out among the many Mustangs and Mopars – it was also half the size of the cars on either side of it! While the car was small in stature, it delivered stirring performance thanks to a straight-six engine sourced from a Triumph TR6, along with the donor car’s transmission, differential and front suspension uprights. Like Lotus, TVR had a vision that emphasized lightness with powerful engines, and the small but innovative company competed regularly in major motorsports events like Le Mans to demonstrate its capabilities. Despite these achievements, TVR always remained a small sports car builder and often encountered financial troubles that stymied its success in building at scale.

Low Mileage 1976 TVR 2500M

I have to say I’m surprised the owner is letting this car go in its current form for a few reasons: one, if he really wanted to get the most money possible for it, a head gasket repair isn’t the toughest job in the world to tackle; and two, why let such a preserved specimen languish when it’s clearly been treasured for many, many years? If I was the second owner of a car I called “…the best original 2500M left in the world,” I’d like to think I would do everything possible to both keep it on the road and as valuable as possible. Perhaps the tight driving quarters killed any enjoyment for the owner, or he got too hot in the tiny cockpit one summer day. Either way, this car deserves to go onto a new owner who will make the needed repairs and get it on the road – could that be you?

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Comments

  1. Rancho Bella

    Original relates to……….wires hanging from under the dash?

    When there is no price……I never call. I don’t need a new friend…..I have dogs

  2. Don

    The vinyl top & sunroof are enough to steer me away from this one!

    • DickieF

      Surprisingly, the ragtop sunroof and a multiple gauge walnut dash wins me over everytime … but you right, loose the vinyl top.

    • bes426

      Well you apparently don’t want any because all 2500m have sunroof, and all 76’s have vinyl beside the ones that have been removed

  3. jonnyconsumer

    Yeah, i saw the wires as well as the Super Trapp pipe on the back. The fart can pipe may explain th head gasket issue. But otherwise, it’s the most original TVR 2500 in the world! LOL

  4. PeteL

    FWIW I wrote the guy for more pix (no full interior, underside/frame, full front or full driver side) as I was interested. I also asked the price which is $18k which seemed high considering many of these don’t get used a lot and his other replies copied below:
    “The head gasket failed in the late ‘90s. ’99? The car has run a number of times since; mostly just to move it and let it warm to operating temp. It always started right up and ran just fine. You wouldn’t even know the head gasket failed. Other things, the diff mounts need replacing, the driver’s side rear wheel brake cylinder needs rebuilding, the brake master cylinder is weeping, the dust boots on the ball joints need to be replaced. I have all these parts (and more) and the work is very easy to do.”

    I stopped asking questions after that. Too much for my blood and especially based on the history. He did offer access to a facebook page where more pictures could be found. So if anyone interested, he replies quickly and he has more pix. PeteL

  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I have done a TR6 head gasket in an afternoon. Assumes no head warping. Headgasket kit is <$70 with shipping from BPNW:

    http://www.bpnorthwest.com/triumph/tr250-tr6/engine-gaskets-seals/head-gasket-set-head-set-tr6-72-to-76-payen-brand.html

    No excuse for not fixing unless owner is physically incapable of doing so.

  6. Nick

    Like the Miata, if you are 6 ft. or over,not for you.

    • Chris

      Not so true on the Miata assessment, I stand 6’2″ and fit just fine in my NA Miata, soft top/hard top/no top. Taller owners can modify the seats (“foamectomy”) to gain headroom as well, it’s not uncommon.

    • Sam Black Church

      Legroom is a non-issue with the 2500M. I have a 74 2500M and I am 6’2″ and have the seat all the way forward when driving. The trans tunnel is high so girth is more of an issue for potential punters.

  7. Steve

    This has been on the market for a very long time, at least 2-3 years, possibly sitting for even longer. My main concern would be water sitting in the cylinders for a number of years. It might be a simple head gasket but I’d want to look at this car in person. For such a low mileage car it looks like it has been through a lot – just noting many of the other items mentioned in previous post.

  8. jim s

    if it is what the seller claims why is it on CL with just 7 photos and little text. it should be on BF, ebay and at a high line auction. these have to be checked for frame tube rust, i think. maybe there is a story on that in road and track under side glances. as for the motor, is the radiator the source of the problem. i do love the fact that it has the TR6 drivetrain, but for the asking price listed above you can get a real nice TR6. if you want a TVR this might be a great find .

  9. Dolphin Member

    The SCM Guide has these at $9,500-19,500 for an excellent car with no needs, but from PeteL’s info It’s not even close to being a driver. I’m guessing that either the ODO has been around once already or it’s lived 14K very abusive / neglectful miles. The rad looks like it’s toast, so jim s is probably right about that being a part of the head gasket problem maybe from overheating. All that and the price likely explain why it’s been on the market so long.

    Too bad because these are good handling cars that have mostly common major mechanical components, and this is not far from a close relative, so I might otherwise have had him look at it for me.

  10. Alan (Michigan)

    Eh,

    Make mine a Griffith.

  11. Randy Rush

    I have talked to that guy as he is sorta local. I think that was about 6 months ago and he said the price was 14k,

  12. Peter

    Lots of good info here. I’m a fan of Hagerty’s valuation tools, as they, being a classic car insurer, are the ones that actually have to write the check, when it’s time to fill out unpleasant paperwork.

    But I will say this: Hagerty’s 1-4 condition-ratings are BRUTAL. For example, a “Condition 4” car, in Hagerty-land, is a DAILY DRIVER. (And there is no condition below #4., in Hagerty-land–so even this credible sources needs to be taken in the perspective of ones wants, abilities, needs, etc….).

    Here are the Hagerty numbers on this piece: http://www.hagerty.com/valuationtools/HVT/VehicleSearch/Report?vbe=10475 .

    Make sure (if you have’t already) you read ALL FOUR of Hagerty’s condition levels–it’s pretty interesting.

    I’d like to thank everyone for DOING, and SHARING, their homework on this TVR. Even if the owner is physically unable to redo the headgasket, I agree, he should get it done and turn this roller into something that can move under it’s own power–so I agree with all who voiced that sentiment.

    I also agree that radiator looks punky as hell. I think that’s a recycle candidate only, unless a recore is preferable (if even possible) for some reason, say, for originality of the original tanks?

    $14K? Too high, especially given all the unknowns. $18K? Please–read condition #1. on Hagerty’s, for approx. $18K, coincidentally.

    I reprinted it (under Fair Use?) here, for your convenience:

    ”Condition #1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best car, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours. Perfectly clean, the car has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one word description for #1 cars is “concours.”

    This phrase keeps me up, nights: “the car has been groomed down to the tire treads.”

    Under Hagerty’s guidelines, this seller should remove the “1” in front of $14,000.

    In MY reality, however, if the unknowns were reduced/eliminated (say, by offering to replace the head gasket and radiator, with the seller paying for parts and labor), so that a determination of it’s health could be made, I’d pay more than $4,000. for it (plus the parts and labor described above).

    A PPI is a must, I’ve read (and believe) with these tube-frame chassis cars.

    The Corvette crowd is PLAGUED by rust issues, despite the “plastic” car (fiberglas). Rust in the “birdcage” and a number of other areas, some of which are INACCESSIBLE on a ‘Vette, without invasive measures, should serve as all the cautionary tale needed, in order to justify a PPI by a TVR expert.

    I think a PPI might be an excellent reality check for this seller. If he’s so confident, let HIM pay for the PPI (from a known, independent expert)–it might HELP his sales efforts, and would most likely help LOWER his price, to something someone would actually pay.

    I’ve always loved these cars–thanks, Barnfinds!

    Peter

  13. Tirefriar

    I would like to own a TVR at one point in my life. I never owned a British caR and this would be perfect way to start.

    Obviously the seller is too much in love with this car. No mention how long he had the car for. Maybe a project he bought into and either feels he is over his head or is trying to flip it (or both). When the price gap is so big, I wouldn’t even bother to waste my time and $$ on a PPI. If one really wants a nice TVR, just sit tight and be ready to jump when the right one comes to the market.

  14. Healeydays

    The guy just contacted me. Here’s what he said.

    Thanks for your note. The interior is in as-new condition. Some of the console switch gear escutcheon locking tangs we cracked from being brittle from age. I repaired these and reaffixed some of the vinyl trim that had come off from no-longer sticky adhesive to the center console GRP cover. Other than the head gasket, it needs the fuel pump rebuilt, the left rear brake slave cylinder rebuilt, the rear diff mounts replaced, and the brake master cylinder rebuilt. All very simple and inexpensive things to repair. Unlike paint, refinishing the chassis, or restoring the interior; all of which are in excellent condition. The head has never been off that motor. I’m asking $18K.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      It just begs the question why he doesn’t do the work and list it as a running, driving car.

  15. Bobby Sydnor

    I have one 76 TVR 2500 M, and one 88 TVR S1 convertible, I too have talked to Steve and he had expressed interest in my TVR convertible and offered more on fb which I’ve had no luck finding. However , I have had questions that I have not received answers …yet. But I’m hopeful.

    Bes

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