The new series of Wheeler Dealers continues, and this time it’s a TVR, a beefy British classic with an interesting past.
What do you do in the middle of winter, when the temperature has plummeted and the roads are slippery if you’re Wheeler Dealers? That’s right, you go and buy a powerful rear-wheel drive sports car made by a company that enthusiasts love. So welcome to the 1992 TVR Griffith.
It was a trip to a car dealer in Essex for Mike Brewer, where he found a fantastic example and one that he thought he recognised. That mystery would be solved later, but there was another – why did this 4.0 Griff seem to have the bigger 4.3 engine?
Apart from that it looked great, with just a de-laminated windscreen and non-original dashboard to fix. And at just £15,000 – £4000 below the asking price – Mike had bagged a cracking modern classic.
Back at the workshop and Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley was ready to get stuck in, and the first job was removing the V8 engine as it was probably ready for a new camshaft. No problem for the talented mechanic, and with the engine stripped down he could also tackle the mystery of the bigger motor. Measuring the cylinder bore and stroke revealed that it was indeed a 4.3-litre unit.
In the meantime, Mike had tracked down the previous owner – former TVR factory racing driver, Steve Cole. Not only was the Griffith once owned by TVR but it had also been a press car for journalists to drive, which is how Mike knew it. Oh yes, and Steve confirmed that it had been returned to the factory to have the bigger engine installed.
As for that camshaft, it did need replacing so with an upgraded item bought Elvis could crack-on with putting that awesome engine back together, taking plenty of care to ensure the new motor would be fighting fit once it was back in the chassis. He was certainly glad that he hadn’t wasted his time taking it all apart…
But there were those other jobs to tackle, starting with the windscreen. A trip to see Charlotte and Warren at Buckinghamshire-based TVR specialists, Topcats Racing, bagged Mike a replacement for £580, giving Elvis a nervous time as he carefully installed it.
As for the dashboard, Wheeler Dealers was on the road to visit some experts that could make it look perfect again. Getting hands-on and doing a superb job, that aluminium dash was soon veneered in finest burr walnut.
Refitting it was a straightforward job, and all that was left was for Elvis to replace a failed number plate bulb. Although he did reveal a little secret at the same time; hidden behind the number plate was the emergency lock that allowed the driver’s door to be opened in the event of a remote control failure. There’s always something new to learn on Wheeler Dealers!
So the Griffith was finished, and with Elvis getting behind the wheel for the test drive all that was left was to enjoy the noise and performance that come with one of these great British sports cars. It owed the boys nearly £17,000 but would a trip to Gilks Garage Café in Warwickshire help sell it, though?
It certainly would when you have plenty of other TVRs for company, and the services of Steve Cole to give the prospective buyer, Rob, a test drive. Naturally, he loved the experience and was only too happy to pay the £22,000 asking price. What a result, and what a car!
Mike Brewer says: “I remember this was the first filming day for Elvis on the tools for Wheeler Dealers, so I was a little nervous about the size of the job in hand and whether Elvis would be able to carry on that Wheeler Dealer ethos that ‘the cars are the star’ and we just educate!
“As soon as the toolbox drawer slid open and he started to talk about how to take the giant V8 engine out of the car, we were all mesmerized. Boy, this man can work fast! Just a few words in and the engine hoist is already over the front of the car. Needless to say, Elvis is perfect. We turned out a brutal beautiful car that we are both so proud off. Selling with the help of Steve Cole at Gilks Garage Café was the icing on an epic show.”
Marc ‘Elvis’ Priestley says: “Some of my favourite Wheeler Dealers episodes of the past have always been ones that included good, in depth, mechanical engineering, with a great story around the car… I think this one has both.
“It was a privilege to be part of the process and of course to get to take this old school British sports car out onto the English country roads. Mike and I both had to play a bit of a detective role to uncover the mystery of the car on this one and as always, he never ceases to amaze me with some of the creative ways he manages to get the final deal across the finish line.”
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