Rare British Export: 1988 TVR 350i

The UK has long been the home of a number of car manufacturers that have been affectionately referred to as “men in sheds.” These are small vehicle manufacturers, the vast majority of which have produced hand-built sports cars. One of the most successful of these has been TVR. In spite of pretty turbulent history, it has managed to survive for the past 73-years and to produce cars like this 1988 TVR 350i. This particular car is one of the few that were built in left-hand-drive form, and it could be yours today. I really have to thank Barn Finder Roger for referring the TVR to us. It is located in Ashford, Connecticut, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. If you would like to get your hands on a 2-seat British sports car with enough performance to grab your attention, then all you need to do is hand the owner $17,500.

During the 1980s, TVR released a number of different models that were known as the “Wedge Series.” One look at the styling is enough to understand how this name was derived, and they are unmistakably cars that were styled to meet the tastes of that era. Today they remain distinctive, and this Imperial Yellow 350i is a clean example of that series. The car was originally an export model that was sold in Germany, hence the left-hand-drive configuration. It then found its way into the US, with the current owner purchasing it in 2015. He believes that the 350i has undergone a repaint at some point in its life, and it still presents quite nicely. The paint has a nice shine to it, while the Cibie driving lights are a nice touch. The frame and floors look clean and solid, while the alloy wheels appear to be free of any damage or curb strike. Overall, the exterior of the TVR looks as though it wants for nothing.

The interior of the 350i presents well, but it isn’t perfect. The most obvious issue is the fact that the timber veneers around the car have begun to deteriorate. However, it is possible that a good cabinetmaker would be able to revive these. You would have to hope so because none of the timber trim items are available from TVR. The seats have received new covers, although the owner does say that the carpet will need to be replaced. The TVR is fitted with an aftermarket stereo and a flat-bottomed Momo steering wheel. Overall though, the interior actually looks pretty reasonable.

The 350i was all about extracting better performance from the original Tasmin 280i. To achieve this, the 280i’s Cologne V6 engine was ditched in favor of the 3.5-liter Rover V8. This provided a power boost of 30hp, with the 350i now boasting 190hp at its disposal. These ponies were sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission, while this particular car also features power steering. The TVR is said to run and drive nicely. It has slight fluid leaks from the power steering system and the transmission, but these aren’t major. Over the past few years, it has received some new steering bushes, along with a new brake master cylinder, brake discs, and calipers. The owner says that the engine does use a small amount of oil, and when cold there is one lifter that is slightly noisy, but those are the only issues.

Post-war British 2-seat sports cars were almost alway enjoyable little cars to drive and were usually only hampered by a lack of engine power. The TVR 350i addressed this shortcoming, resulting in a car that could accelerate from 0-60mph in just over 6 seconds, and could find its way to 130mph. The 350i was only built in limited numbers, with company records showing that 897 were made in Convertible form. They were never officially imported into the USA, so buying this car would represent a rare opportunity to own a British sports car with some impressive performance. The rarity and performance make this a classic that is well worth considering.

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Comments

  1. luke arnott Member

    Beware build quality of a TVR!

    Like 1
  2. Louis Q Chen

    Lotsa luck new owner! You need a deep pocket on this car….parts are very hard to find…I don’t think TVR is still around? The shape looks like the old Toyota Supra. “Do you feel lucky?”

    Like 1
    • Mark

      Yes they still make TV R’s they are quite rare and expensive Exotics very powerful

  3. Doug

    The one good thing about this vehicle is that the Rover/Buick engine was still being produced by Rover until 2004, and they are pretty easy to find. The rest of the car, not so much.

    Probably a lot of fun to drive, when you can……

    Like 1
  4. Rob

    I’m the seller of the TVR, thank you for mentioning it. Parts are actually not too bad to locate for these, although you won’t be shopping at your local NAPA. Front suspensions are Ford derived, rear end is Jaguar, lights are all from other vehicles as are most trim pieces. There is a very active Facebook group that is great at parts source recommendations or selling parts outright (of course, you have to get them shipped from the UK). Owning a TVR is a bit of an adventure and they aren’t for everyone.

  5. Richard

    I ran a 350i for quite a while – parts are easily available and not expensive (Rover engine and LT77 gearbox), Girling brakes, Triumph dash switches etc. etc. There is a great deal of tech info and a very supportive owners club. They are simple cars with nothing much to worry about – and lots of fun…

  6. PeterK

    Was this car up for sale with that crook that ran Dusty Old Cars in New Hampshire? I saw one up there once for sale.

  7. Rob

    No, that was a 280i that had the V6 replaced with a 302. This one is a factory built V8 that was never officially imported to the US

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