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TVR Chimaera (1993 - 2005)

BLACKPOOL ROCK (some text hidden)

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introductionword count: 113

If there is such thing as a sensible TVR, then the Chimaera is it. This model most closely follows the styling cues of the classic TVR 'S' series of cars, and has proved to be the best-selling TVR ever. A combination of keen pricing, perceived accessibility and towering performance tempted an unprecedented amount of buyers to sign on the dotted line marked Chimaera, and it's not hard to feel a pang of jealousy. As a used purchase the Chimaera looks similarly tempting, with a number of low-mileage cars in the dealer network for MGF-money. If you're more hard man than new man, the keys to the TVR might well prove impossible to resist.

Modelsword count: 10

Models Covered: (2 dr roadster 4.0, 4.3, 4.5, 5.0 petrol)

Historyword count: 430

The TVR Chimaera was launched at the British Motor Show in 1992. Unusually for TVR, the show car looked as if it was production-ready and so it proved. At the time, TVR were basking in the adulation heaped upon the Griffith, and the Chimaera only served to reinforce the perception that here was a home-grown manufacturer capable of mixing it with the big boys. The 'S' series of cars were, at the time, still selling well, but with the advent of the Chimaera, TVR's management knew that their immediate future was V8 powered. Both the 'S' and Griffith range were all-out sports models, and the Chimaera's emphasis was slightly softer, which in Blackpool parlance is like moving from diamond to tungsten carbide. Legend has it that during the styling of the Chimaera, TVR boss Peter Wheeler's dog, Ned, took a bite out of one of the foam models. Wheeler decided that he liked the new styling feature and incorporated the recesses to house the front indicators. The Chimaera's underpinnings were based on the Griffith's, which were in turn based on the Tuscan racer. Different dampers and an anti-roll bar were fitted, as was a more accommodating boot to reinforce the new car's Grand Touring image. The Chimaera was originally destined to house the all-new AJP8 engine designed and built by TVR. Development issues surrounding this engine meant that the trusty Rover V8 based engines were used, of 240bhp 4.0 (also available in 275bhp High-Compression) 280bhp 4.3, 285bhp 4.5-litre or 340bhp 5.0-litre capacity. Another little-known fact is that the Chimaera was planned to replace the Rover-engined Griffiths, but demand for both models was sufficient to justify their existence. The 4.3-litre car lasted until 1994, whereupon it was replaced by the 4.0-litre High Compression model, the range-topping 5.0-litre model being introduced shortly before. The 4.0 HC in turn gave way to the 4.5 in 1996, and the base 4.0 was deleted in 1998. The Chimaera range underwent a small facelift in 1997, with changes to the nose, tail and internal detailing to make the car more closely resemble the Cerbera. This in itself was ironic, as the Cerbera was initially a lengthened coupe version of the Chimaera. Imitation certainly is the sincerest form of flattery at TVR. 2001 saw a further series of modifications. The headlamps became faired in units and the tail lights were changed for a cluster of four lights in one pod. Inside the car you'd find aluminium detailing to the instruments. Minor changes to the suspension set up were also made to improve the Chimaera's roadholding and ride.

What You Getword count: 262

In billing the Chimaera as the practical option in the range, TVR are dealing in relatives. Don't expect to take it on the school run, out for the weekly shop or on a ski holiday to the Alps. The only thing the Chimaera likes doing to small children is terrifying them with the bark of its engine and near-incinerating them with its exhaust. Should you ever be torn between a TVR Chimaera and a Renault Scenic, the French car's superior door-bin count will clinch it every time. The Chimaera instead functions well as a softer edged alternative to a Griffith, not so manic or teeth-jarring, but still possessed of awesome muscularity and a malignant nature that's always lurking at the end of the throttle's travel. The interior is more adventurous than the Griffith's and the bold curves, aluminium gear knob and fluorescent green instrument faces show the initial workings of an ideas mine that has been plundered in full for the Cerbera and Tuscan cabins. A wide transmission tunnel separates the two occupants, and internal space is at a premium. The thick, non-airbagged wheel and supportive seats could be trimmed in any colour or material the original buyer fancied, and the hood works well, both at waterproofing and windproofing the car. In mythology a Chimaera is a fire breathing, goat-bodied, lion-headed monster with the tail of a serpent. In truth, the TVR Chimaera is similarly cobbled together from a disparate set of components to form a fire-breathing entity. Except in this case, it all works so well you never notice the joins.

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Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Sporting Cars

Performance
70%
Handling
50%
Comfort
40%
Space
40%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
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