Rare British Roadster: 1986 TVR 280i

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We all have cars that we look at longingly as potential projects, despite knowing the vehicle in question is likely a terrible idea. For me, any vintage TVR checks that box, but it’s this car – the 280i, or the Tasmin – that is my siren song. The simple fact is most of these turn up as non-runners or at the very least, running projects. It’s rare to find one that’s complete and operational, and while this example was driving a few months ago, it now only cranks but does not run. The seller has listed it here on Facebook Marketplace for $4,000 with a bunch of new parts included.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Chuck Foster for the find. The 280i was affectionately known as “the wedge,” owing to its door-stopper-like shape. To me, it is the epitome of an 80s sports car, with sharp edges everywhere and plenty of flared extensions at every corner. The BBS wheels found on the 280i were another styling treat from the awesome 80s, and I believe these were known as the “RA” design; if you were to color-match them white, you’d have your own rolling tribute to the Miami Vice era for far less than the cost of buying a Ferrari Testarossa. The seller’s car appears to have a good body and clean top, but the seller indicates the rear portion of the top and the back window both need replacement.

The interior was classic TVR, in that it didn’t work particularly hard to hide its hand-built nature from a limited amount of parts bin components; in other words, it appears a bit cheap inside the cabin. Still, you have handsome wood trim, a three-spoke steering wheel, bucket seats, and a four-speed manual gearbox – what’s not to love? That being said, the buckets in this limited-production sports car are a bit of a let-down, so I’d swap in some period-correct Recaro seats if this were my car. The seller notes that it will need a replacement windshield, and this will be a major challenge as these are hard to come by even in the UK; you will likely need to import glass unless you find someone parting one out.

Now, the fact that this 280i has the Cologne V6 is what will make that windshield hunt all worthwhile. This is a honey of an engine, and in the 280i, it makes 160 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than enough in a lightweight, fiberglas shell, and the exhaust note is downright intoxicating. While my preference would be to find a rare hardtop coupe, there’s no denying that the 280i in any form represents a baby exotic that was produced in exceedingly small quantities and makes good power – a recipe for success no matter how you look at it. Would you take a chance on finding a windshield with this 280i?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    I had a hopped up TR7 convertible in the late 80s, (a blast to drive until it dropped a valve) and always thought this design was an improvement over the original TR7 Wedge. They were on the high end of car prices, and seemed to hold their value, like Morgans and Big Healeys. A decade ago I would have jumped on this, but now have more projects than I will ever get to. I did get a Morgan, sort of, a replica M3W.

    Like 2
    • Neil Skirton

      Parts mainly came from the Ford shelves for this one. Includes a lot of interior bits , switches , handles etc. In the UK we have several dedicated TVR clubs and specialists. No problem in getting most of what you need and there aren’t any rust issues here

      Like 6
  2. luckless pedestrian

    I remember back in the mid/late ’80s… was living in southern NH… there was a dealership that sold TVRs, Bertones and special interest used stuff… I had an X1/9 in my fleet at the time, so always had an interest in what was happening at that dealer… The 280i’s and X1/9’s would sit on the lot for a loooong time…

    Like 1
    • Jay McCarthy

      It was in Wakefield Ma right off of Rt128, my friend tried to trade his V6 Fiero for 1

      Like 1
  3. Jim

    I remember looking at these back in 1980 when I bought my new Spitfire. Beautiful cars, but the price put them out of my reach. This seems like a good deal, at least if the starting problem really is just a fuel problem

    Like 3
  4. Ben

    I had one very similar to this one in the early 90’s…exact same color combo…but mine was an ’85.

    Other than the top leaking near the rear view mirror in heavy rain, I loved it!

    Like 0

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