Project TVR: Finishing Touches

Dusty TVR

Well guys, this past week has been a crazy one! After getting the TVR up and running, we decided we just needed to hit it hard and get this Wedge finished up. We’ve had some incredibly long days, but we finally have it to a point we are happy with! No, it isn’t perfect and there are still things that need attention, but we have it running, driving, stopping and looking good. I can honestly say, this is one of the most dramatic transformations we have had yet. When we bought this car, it was dirty and hadn’t been on the road for years. Today, it shines almost as good as new and it sounds incredible! So here’s all the work that has been done since our last update.

Intake Bellows

In our last report, we had the engine running, but it wasn’t running great. It would start right up, but it would cough, stutter and idle erratically. We had noticed some large cracks in the intake bellow. I tried my hardest to repair it with rubber glue, but every time the engine revved up, the glue would give and the cracks would reopen. So we decided that we just needed a new pipe. I’m sure we could have found an exact replacement online, but we were desperate to take it for a spin, so we hit up a local parts store and found a universal pipe. It isn’t stock, but it looks decent and works great! The engine occasionally idles a bit weird, so I’m guessing there are still a few vacuum leaks that still need to be tracked down and maybe a sensor or two that needs replaced, but overall it runs extremely well and has an impressive exhaust note.

Ford V6

With the engine running better, we were able to take it out for a spin. We quickly noticed a few things. First off, this thing has some power! We didn’t take it much over 20 mph, but touch the gas and it throws you back. Also, the clutch needs work. It has clutch, but the pressure point is a bit off and you have to occasionally pump the pedal.We might try to bleed the system before shipping it off, but it might be a good idea to just replace the slave and master cylinders. It doesn’t look too hard to get to either, but our limited budget means that they are not on the to-do list. There isn’t much of a spread between what we paid for the car and what we think it will sell for, so we have to focus on the most important areas first. The other thing we noticed was a noise coming from the drive line that sounds like a bad u-joint. We didn’t notice any vibrations coming from the drive line, but there is a clunking sounds when you put the car into gear.

Tasmin Convertible Top

After a couple of laps around the block, we decided it was time to get this thing cleaned up! We had already vacuumed out the interior, it’s never a good idea to climb into a dusty interior as it tends to grind the grim in deeper, but it still needed a ton of work. I set about cleaning the exterior and Jesse got to work on the top. At some point during our TVR’s long slumber a fight broke out. A cat went running and the dog pursued, apparently right into the back window of our car! Luckily, the only damage done was to the stitching along the top and sides of the rear window.

Sewing The Top

The cloth top and plastic window survived unscathed, so we figured it would be a lot cheaper to stitch them up than replace the whole top. A few calls were made to local upholstery shops, but no one wanted to take on the job. So, Jesse found some UV resistant thread with a high tensile strength and started the tedious task of reuniting the two pieces together. After many hours and a few pricked fingers, the window was back in place!

Top Installed

Before reinstalling the top we cleaned everything and used some plastic polish to buff out the scratches and haze on the back window. It cleaned up nicely, but it looks like the removable section of the roof had just the right texture for some claw sharpening! The cat previously mentioned left us a few scratches that we hadn’t noticed before. It’s nothing major, but it is one of those things we couldn’t see under that thick layer of barn dust. Anyway, we dug out some trim glue and finished installing our refurbished top. Everything went back together easily and now it actually provides protection from the elements. We love how the top functions on this thing! After stashing the middle section in the trunk, you just reach back and pop each support down and then the whole thing tucks behind the seats. It’s a trick novelty that just make us love this car even more.

Shiny Hood

While Jesse was working on the top, I got the outside about as shiny as humanly possible. I’ve worked with a lot of finishes over the years, but I’ve never really worked with gel-coated fiberglass. It was a different experience, but I have to say, it was rather enjoyable! The finish didn’t look terrible, since it’s white, but once I started hand cleaning the car I noticed just how much oxidization there really was. After a careful hand bath, I start polishing the paint and before long we discovered the color is actually an off white. I followed my usual polishing routine, minus any harsh compounds. After a couple passes with a finishing compound, I put down a coat of glaze and then a good helping of wax. Boy does it shine now! I was even surprised by how many of the cat and dog scratches polished out! I just wish the hood would have polished up as well as the rest of the car. It’s hard to notice it in the pictures, but clearly the hood has had a new coat of paint sprayed on it. I’m not sure why it was repainted because we couldn’t find any evidence of an previous crash damage or anything serious like that.

Tasmin Interior

After getting the exterior looking its best again, we got to work doing a good interior detail. We cleaned and conditioned the leather seats, vacuumed all the carpeted surfaces and wiped down all the other surfaces. We also reinstalled the passenger side door panel, which had been removed for some unknown reason. We also removed the driver’s side door panel, as the interior door handle wasn’t working. We discovered the rod connecting the handle to the latch had popped loose, so we hooked it back up and put the door back together. Then we got to work testing out all the switches. To our amazement, everything works, well except the radio and the horn. The popup headlight go up and down as they should, all the dash lights work, the windows go up and down, and the window wiper works. There are a couple switches on the driver’s door panel that we aren’t sure what they go to and they don’t seem to do anything (perhaps it had power mirrors at some point?). Also, the controller for the climate control is broken off from its mounts. It looks like it could be repaired, but we decided if they want to remove it or try to reinstall an A/C system. It sure would nice to have for those hot summer days!


It’s been a lot of work getting our TVR to this point, but we are honestly proud of all the work we’ve put into it in such a short period of time. There was a lot of time and sweat put into getting it running well and looking this good, but it was well worth it. If we didn’t have to move it along to make room for the Spitfire, I’m pretty sure it would be taking up permanent residence. It still needs work, but it is a blast to put the top down and the pedal to the floor! It truly feels special when your in it, almost supercar-like. And when you climb underneath it and look at that tube chassis and inboard brakes, you feel like your working on a race car! There are lots of cars out there to choose from when shopping, but few are this unique. I just hope we can find someone who appreciates it enough to buy it before we get too attached…


  1. Casey

    Kudos on getting it back in the road, it looks sharp!

  2. JW454

    Josh, What is the tool you’re using to restitch the top/window?

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      I was responsible for that one actually JW454. It’s a sewing awl. They are used to sew leather, but after sticking a sewing machine needle in it, it worked great to join the plastic window and canvas top. Luckily, some of the stitching was still intact, so i was able to line up the original holes.

      • "Nate"

        Hi Jesse…your sewing work was a thing of beauty!!! would the same awl work on a garage covered, well cared for, lowest milage Saab convertible imaginable…the top has a few “frayed” areas with size of one/half of a tack head w/o the convenience of being lined up to the original holes ? I have a guy in Chicagoland that uses his garage in the alley but has gotten too famous $$$.any news from readers would be helpful. best wishes, “Nate”.

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        If the fabric is frayed or the plastic is cracked, it probably wont work very well. Somehow our top didn’t have any damage so it was possible to lineup the existing holes and everything went back together well.

  3. RoughDiamond

    Great job, guys. You sure did an amazing transformation on her.

  4. Ian

    Good job lads,I grew up in Dublin and have been a TVR fan since the beginning. When are you putting it on the market?

  5. jim s

    i think you both have fallin in love with the car. i love the way the car looks, nice enought to show/drive but not to nice that you don’t want take it out of the garage. if your saying it is for sale let the bidding start. this will be fun to watch.

  6. sdwarf36

    If you look at my 1st reply to your “we bought a car” thread, the answer to you clutch problem is to first check your clutch slave bracket.. They bend. If it bends enough, the piston can pop out. They look like a bad 8th grade shop project. 2 minutes with it in your hand you’ll figure out that with very little re-design + welding you can make it work just fine.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      We will take a look. Thanks for the tip!

  7. MountainMan

    Good job! The hard work that’s been done really makes a big difference on this cool little TVR. It’s at a good point to pass it on to the next owner to continue the process of getting it back to 100% but still really close to being able to take it out for more than an around the block drive. Youve been into it enough to asses the things that still need to be done so the person who buys this car will have an honest and accurate assessment of the overall condition. Hope it goes to a reader that will continue to improve and continue the updates because I think most readers really enjoy seeing the progress.
    Again, great job and I hope you make the profit you undoubtedly deserve.

  8. Blindmarc

    Glad the top wasn’t damaged. great job on the repairs too.

  9. Scotty G

    Beautiful work! Beautiful car! I agree with MountainMan on this being a great, honest car for the next owner to tinker with. They’ll know that nothing has been covered up or anything like that; it’s an honest refurbishment of a great car. Now to find that dang cat…

  10. Chris A.

    Really good progress so far. I hope the next owner is just as enthusiastic getting the TVR in tip top shape. When you do sell it, all these posts should go with it as there is some important info in the comments. Just a neat car that needs a good long term owner. Unfortunately for me at this time of year IRS does not mean independent rear suspension.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      I understand what you mean Chris!


    How much?

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      There aren’t many recent sales to go off of, but there was one that sold on eBay for $3,800 the other day. That car had a salvage title and a respray though, so I’m guessing ours is going to be worth closer to $4,500 when we are done with it.

      • AMC STEVE

        What else are you going to do on it?

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        We just finished sorting a few things this morning and did a video of us driving it around the neighborhood. So, I think it’s ready to go. We just need to do a full write-up and gather all the photos together.

  12. Bill

    Looks great. i remember sorting the electrics on the one we did.. some bright star had wired the radio memory circuit through the brake switch. The radio died and changed stations every time you stopped. Brilliant…. The top is indeed a work of art. versatile to say the least. Open, targa, or hard top….

    • Sdwarf36

      Radio story: when I started at TVR, one of the things I had to do was install radios. The ones they were shipping in the cars were set up for the euro’s- they would tune in on even numbers (106.8–99.2 etc.) which means they were always out of sync with stations over here. There was a plug in the car and I’d have to make the harness go to locally sourced radios. And even though it was supposed to be”red wire top left- black wire top right” in the plug, it was only a 60/40 chance that was the case. I’d end up having to make the harnesses one at time because you never knew how things were wired. There was one little old lady in Blackpool that made all the harnesses. (Someone’s mother or aunt- there was a lot of nepotism in the factory.)

      • Anthony

        Ah, the color-blind wiring harness assembler strikes again

  13. Tom Hall

    I don’t really see much difference between the top photo and the bottom one ;)
    Nice job guys!

  14. Jeff Staff

    What a transformation. And the soft top repair is phenomenal!

  15. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Very nice, plus you saved one.

    Does your state put any info on the salvage title, such as what earned it the privilege.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Who said ours had a salvage title? This car has a clear title with no reason to suspect that it has ever been in a wreck.

      • Dave Wright

        A salvage title has nothing to do with being wrecked. There are many ways to wind up with a “branded” title without having been wrecked. It is a terrible system forced on us by the Fed.

  16. Ed Williams


    Just a suggestion. Why don’t you try to get in touch with Edd China of the “Wheeler Dealers” TV show? Maybe he can help as he has worked on TVR’s before.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      That would be fun, but I’m sure he’s too busy for little ol’ us.

  17. George

    Too bad you guys are in the PNW. That would be a cool addition to the toys in my barn.

    • Dave Wright

      That is one of the beauties about cars………they are portable……..

  18. 67rebelsst

    Looks great, is this going on ebay, or are you going to offer it on this site first? Let us know. I like cars that you do not see ten or fifteen at the car shows. More than likely it would be the only one at the show /cruise-in in my area of OH.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      I think we should give our readers first dibs.

  19. Norman - TVR owner in UK

    I wondered at first why or how anyone would paint a hood, with it being made of fabric.. Then of course I realised you meant the bonnet! This is a British car, guys!!

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Haha, good point Norman. Bonnet it is!

  20. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    So how many hours so far from as found photo to polished, cleaned and driveable? Did you have more than a couple guys doing alternate things on it at the same time?

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      It was just Josh and I working on this one. We didn’t keep track, but I’d say we each put around 20 hours each into the car.

  21. Marshall

    About 7 years ago, I rescued a 1984 Tasmin/280i from a barn in north Georgia. It was pretty sad looking when I got it, somewhat like yours. We went through all systems, some cosmetics including all new interior, new top, etc and ended up with a nice final product. You have made very good progress on yours. If you have any questions about any aspect of the car, let me know and maybe I can assist you with them. Continued good luck with your project.

  22. Marshall

    Here is what my car looked like when I first got it home.

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