Parts or Project? 1970 TVR Vixen

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One memory of childhood I have managed to retain after many years is an old, green TVR parked near an ancient garage on my elementary school bus route. It was the highlight of my day, and it didn’t matter that the other kids on the bus has no idea why I was so excited. Despite being stored indoors, this 1970 TVR Vixen here on eBay isn’t in much better condition than that old green coupe. The seller is unsure if this unfinished project is anything better than a parts car at this point; what do you think?  Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find. 

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The Vixen is up for grabs as a result of the owner passing away. He bought it from the first owner, and it’s been disassembled since 1982! That’s when the second owner began the restoration, which – like so many projects with great intentions – got so far as disassembling it, and then life evidently got in the way. Or, I suppose, the seller got some bad news from the machine shop and decided to take a break from the ever-mounting costs and never got back to finishing the project. No word on how complete the motor is or whether it’s even included.

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At some point, the second owner was obviously committed to seeing this restoration through. With both the engine removed and the interior stripped out, he had a blank canvas to work with. The current seller says the frame is solid and the fiberglass body (including the hood) are in good condition. What an awesome interior – you have to give it to the British marques, as they knew how to make the cockpit come alive with just the right amount of gauges to ensure maximum driver engagement. Strap on the leather gloves and Ray-Bans, then go cruising.

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Whoever ends up with this TVR is going to have a fair amount of sorting out to do. From the complete interior to possibly tracking down an engine of some configuration, you’re effectively unscrambling a few decades’ worth of periodic attempts at restoration. Plus, like many of us do, we have a storage system for parts and spares that makes sense to us but may appear to be complete nonsense to others. The good news is there is no reserve, making it more feasible to spend a few days hunting around the previous caretaker’s garage to find all the bits you need to re-launch the restoration. What do you think this scattered Vixen will sell for?

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Comments

  1. David C

    For sure a project. But what a great project! It’s up to $3500 now.

  2. Roger Owen

    Easy project by initial looks. Not sure what’s going on with the handbrake – passenger operated?

  3. Dolphin Member

    At the current bid price of about $3500 this could be a good buy for someone who knows these cars and can do most or all of the work himself. With 20 bids, no reserve, and 8 days to go, it will sell. I would prefer one of the larger-engine TVRs, but the 1600cc Ford Kent engine in this one should get it around OK.

    The trouble is, the small-engine TVRs don’t really have much collector value, so you would need to know that you could get the car back together without a lot of expensive parts and services from specialists. Otherwise it would be much better to buy a complete running car and get driving a lot sooner.

    The problem here is what we see again and again with cars that have been taken apart and left in barns or garages: Somebody takes it apart, maybe sands the body in prep for paint, and doesn’t finish the job or even label and store the parts properly. Then lots of time goes by, and unless the car has, or over time develops, real collector value it can be a bad deal compared to buying a good running / driving car that you can drive now. That would make me pass on this car.

  4. GlenK

    I have to agree with Dolphin, as a long time TVR lover I have kept my eye out for a good one over the years to buy. What I have found is that because they are uncommon people think they are worthy of big money. They are cars that take a while to sell and even longer in this condition. But, it seems there is a lot of interest in this one.

  5. Mark S Member

    In my opinion the reason that these projects stall out, is people get the car apart and A) they realize that they’re in over their heads and give up or B) they start to dig into the easy fun stuff first and get bogged down on the hard stuff. First and foremost you need the tools, and skills to tackle a project like this. The second thing is dig in to the hard dirty chassie / engine stuff first and get it behind you then tackle the cosmetic more interesting stuff last, it gives you something to look forward to. That’s how i tackle my project and I’m always able to see them through to the end. Finally a word of advice, the Devils in the details. In other word the small finish up points can really hang you up. With me I just keep plugging away finish one then start another.

  6. Scott in San Jose

    I agree and disagree with Dolphin about the Kent. The value is less, agreed. Just being ok, not so much. These are so much fun with the small engine. They are much more work with the big engine. I felt that the Kent cars were faster because they handled better.

    Because of the better balance you could brake later and take corners faster on the track. Because of the lack of heat and little sound deadening, on country roads the little engine was a blast for hours, the big engine not so much.

    To me the big engine means the Tuscan V8. Remembered there were many variations I didn’t try.

    • rapple

      You said it right Scott. This engine was much better suited to the TVR than the more commonly seen Triumph six that was also plugged into this chassis. A very responsive, light-on-its-feet setup.

  7. Rotag999

    I like the Grocery Getter Motor ! rofl

  8. RobM

    I’ve wanted a TVR Vixen 1600 since seeing them at Tom’s Pit Stop (Lotus/TVR dealer) on Rt. 22 in Scotch Plains, NJ, back when they were new. I was only 13 at the time, but my mom would take me there to look at the cars. Now that I’m nearing retirement age, I’ve developed a short list of cars to own before it’s too late. The Vixen is one of them. Should be more agile than the 2500. I may have to go look at this. : )

  9. Eric Dashman

    Thank heavens the rear window is intact! You might find a Barracuda window, but a TVR Vixen window would cost more than the car, if you could find one. An old girlfriend’s girlfriend had one of these back in the early 70s. It was one hot ride! Fast, cornered like it was on rails and she drove the piss out of it. Hot lady in a hot car…who doesn’t appreciate that.

    As long as the tube frame is in good shape, this would be a fun project. Wheelers and Dealers (on TV) did a later TVR and had to replace the rusty frame.

    Looking at the engine picture, I’m doubting that 17K was the original mileage. It’s too oil/grease/dirt coated for such low mileage….even in NY.

  10. Wayne Thomas

    Great restomod candidate. Why not do a Vortec 4200 swap. Straight 6 with 300hp. Something different….lots of power…and a unique sound.

    But then, an Ecotec 4cyl would also be a decent swap. A car like this takes too much to go back to factory stock and one would never get the money back. So, might as well mod it to modern specs and drive it like you stole it.

  11. Bob Sydnor

    Disagree with W.T. , there are so few of these little gems so to bastardized them would be injustice to the very few that are left with less than nine hundred forty seven or so M’s which were the most TVR’s sold anywhere and North America bought the bulk of them. I believe is only fair to say I owned one forty years ago,and two now.I have a seventy -six M with TR six straight sixwhich stands for Martin,and an eighty -eight S1 with Cologne V-six. That just an opinion like many here, I’m not here to be abrasive at all ,I just like the cars especially when so many are fitting V8 in them an losing there value.
    BES

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