Top Down Storage: 1983 TVR Tasmin

Just the other day, we featured a gorgeous and rare TVR 280i, otherwise known as a Tasmin, in coupe form. More commonly seen is the drop-top version, like this 1983 example on craigslist. This one isn’t nearly as nice as the coupe, and demonstrates some of the typical fault areas these limited-production cars can have. Find this project-grade TVR here on craigslist in Los Angeles, and go here if the ad disappears

If there’s any confusion as to whether you should call it a 280i or Tasmin, just go with the latter – it’s spelled out in the cool period graphics on the rear quarters. Also in-period are the BBS alloy wheels, which look sharp agains the silver paint. Note the ugly side marker lights required by the safety-minded folks at the DOT. Little information is provided about this Tasmin’s past, but the smashed front windshield isn’t very reassuring.

If you read the post about the coupe, you’ll remember I was shocked at how nice the interior can look. That’s because this is what you see most of the time, although this is even more extreme than I’m used to seeing. The seats are utterly destroyed, which may indicate this TVR was stored somewhere with its top down and the hot sun up above almost constantly. At least the interior still appears original with its Momo-inspired sport steering wheel still attached.

The seller is asking $5,200 for this very tired Tasmin. When you look at the asking price for the 1-of-7 made with 13,000 miles coupe at $15,900 or best offer, this project-grade example starts to look very pricey. Thankfully, it does have the desirable Ford Cologne V6 (at least, I think it does, based on this solitary engine bay shot), which makes any TVR a tempting project to own and restore. At $3,500, I’d consider this a worthwhile challenge; less so at the current price.


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  1. OA5599

    It’s a devil of a Tasmin.

    It’s a shame these are one of the best of the wedge designs.

    Not worth the ask.

  2. Victor Anderson

    Even in perfect condition these things are not worth a great deal of money. For sure this car is not worth $5200 from what I can see – plus there is going to be what you can not see. One headlight up, one down – so probably a problem with the headlight motors, based on the shape of the interior odds are the top is shot too. If the car was $2,000 it *might* be worth fixing up the cosmetics and electrical issues and dropping a 5.0 302 mustang motor and transmission in it and not be into it for a great deal of money. But even then you’d be lucky to get out of it what you’d put into it – but with a nice Ford V8 and 5spd in it and possibly different rear end you might end up with a fun car a least. I dunno …sometimes even a car you get for free isn’t worth fixing up.

  3. Rube Goldberg Member

    It’s winking at us. Saw that a lot with retractable headlights, of all makers. Must have been a fantastic car when new, although, I had a Capri with that motor, ( I think) and didn’t care for it one bit. I’d have to think why these never took off, by 1983, there were much nicer cars to be had. The market had changed in the 80’s, and a 280Z was a much better deal and would eat this car for lunch. I love British roadsters, but I’d stay clear of this one.

  4. Jubjub

    Always some Tasmin hate!
    First off, awesome color scheme. Probably a decent buy at $2500-3500. True, there were better built, better buys in 1983. But all these years later, when they’re all old cars, those better buys, don’t shine like one of these. They’re also mechanically manageable and most components are fairly basic, off the shelf, often universal, items. Many design shortcomings can be fairly easily reengineered with a little research and creativity.

    The interior on these was pretty DIY from the factory, nothing too complex or manufactured…think redoing the interior in an old speed boat.

    I’ve owned and driven 280Zs and they don’t have the handling prowess of my semi sorted Barn Finds Tasmin.

    And that’s a an actual Momo steering wheel.

  5. Karl M

    Hello, I bought this!
    As a glutton for punishment, I thought I’d take on the task of resurrecting my all time least favorite TVR. Why, you ask? Because I live in Kommi-fornia, and I’m unable to reg my “gray market” 1978 Taimar in this State. (It was my daily driver for about 8 years in Canada before moving here.)
    I told the owner he was asking way too much for a basketcase TVR, and made him an offer, which he accepted immediately. After paying close to one thousand Federal Reserve Notes to the DMV for back fees, and sales tax, and then delivery (400 miles), I was into it for a bit less than the asking price.
    And Jubjub, there’s no “hate” here for the car, to be sure. It’s really growing on me, and having spent dozens of hours under the car, sometimes just staring at the (almost perfect) tube frame, the shiny bolts- yes “shiny”, and the clean underside, I get a bit giddy about how lucky I am to have acquired such an under-rated hand built car, with none of the east coast frame rust issues. The only rust is surface rust where the powdercoat has been amateurishly removed by unpadded jacks and jack stands.
    I spent a few days in a tyvek suit and mask, cleaning the thing, then swapped out the seat with my Taimar seat (just needed to keep the Tasmin mounts), got new tires, oil and filter, ss braided brake lines, fuel pump and filter, changed a few brittle/cracked fuel lines, and ordered a new windshield. New hoses coming soon. I’ll get to the interior when weather permits.
    I’ve yet to get it to start, but it turns over without any odd noises, and I think I’m close to sorting out that issue.
    As for justifying the cost, I look at it this way. I get a Jag LSD ($1500 used), 4 wheel disk brakes, a tube frame chassis (probably $3000 to replace), a fiberglass body (Look at the cost of these fiberglass products,, and the exclusivity of TVR not a “blooming rusted Datsun”, no offence 510 owners!
    And just to dispel some of the other comments regarding this car, Frank, there was no fire, but the hood needs work near the vents/louvers, and JD has enlightened me with the “only 50 were imported prior to being halted”. I believe this to be # 37 as the VIN ends in 1037. And Rube, thanks for staying clear of this one so I could buy it. And Victor, this car cost over $28,000 new, and the $5000 I’ve spent brings a smile to my face, unlike it did sitting in the bank! Go get that Ford.
    So now that I know more than anyone else about this car, please don’t dis what you know-not. Positive constructive comments, or curious questions will be welcome, and addressed with aplomb. VVVVROOOM!

    • Josh Mortensen Staff

      Congrats Karl! We had a Tasmin and while it had its issues, we had a blast working on it. Keep us updated on yours, as a matter of fact, I’d love to do a success story on it!

  6. Karl M

    Thank you Josh. Let’s get it at least running before that success story though!

    After I thought I’d completed most of the work to try to get it to run, I thought, -lots of thinking, to check fuel flow through the system by just sticking the fuel pump feed line directly into a gallon of gas, and watch the returned fuel come out of the “swirl pot” at the exit of the fuel tanks. It wouldn’t run. Eventually I found a wiring diagram only to notice that the fuel level sensor in the tank is meant to send a signal to OK the fuel pump to start. I believe this to be the starting issue. I’ll try again next week when the weather will be clear in the SF Bay Area.

    As for your Tasmin, I think Jubjub got a very good deal. He’s happy I bet!
    To make more money though, you, “coulda woulda shoulda” sold it in Europe, where the car is much better known. Just my thought. But then that would be one fewer TVR in the USA.

    I paid a California premium for mine, but that was worth it to me to have a proper Cal Reg TVR.

    Have a fabulous 2019. I’ll keep in touch regarding progress. And thanks for your interest.

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