The Griffith was the car that catapulted TVR into the big league of performance car manufacturers when it was unveiled as a concept at the 1990 Motor Show.
Quite apart from being thunderously fast, it also looked stunning with organic, muscular lines that were a far cry from the ‘flying wedge’ TVRs of old and a bespoke leather-and-walnut lined cockpit that bristled with innovative and tactile design features, many of them machined from billet aluminium.
Over 300 orders were taken at the show, and when the first cars were delivered to the press and public in 1992, the reception was even better. “Outrageous performance for half the price of some of the more established supercar names, whilst easily equalling the drama and road presence,” said Evo magazine. “Shockingly loud, unapologetically politically incorrect but unapologetically great too”, said Autocar.
Based on the spaceframe chassis developed for the Tuscan race car, the first run of cars used Rover V8s reworked to give either 240bhp (4.0-litre) or 280bhp (4.3-litre), but things got even better in 1994 with the launch of the 340bhp (5.0-litre) Griffith 500 which could smash through 60mph in just 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 167mph. With 350lb/ft of torque on tap, it could burble round town like a pussycat but also spin its rear tyres in a frenzy of tortured rubber if dropped into third and booted at 80mph on the motorway.
To cope with the hooligan performance, the 500 also came with better brakes, Koni dampers and stiffer chassis settings. It remained in production, with constant modifications, until 2001. Exact production figures are uncertain but somewhere around 2,600 is probably not too wide of the mark, with only 1,040 Griffith 500s still UK registered today.
Dating from October 1997, this 500 has been in the current ownership since 2011 and has covered only 35,700 miles with an excellent service history comprising 11 stamps in the service book.
A former Jaguar Land Rover development engineer who knows his Griffiths inside out has maintained it himself and believes that it is about as good an example as you could hope to find.
The oil pressure is excellent as is the chassis which has been waxoil protected; it has none of the hot start problems that can plague this model thanks, in part, to a uprated aluminium radiator; it has Gaz adjustable suspension all round; a new rear screen has been fitted; it has a Thatcham 1 immobiliser; the alternator was recently renewed and it has a built-in trickle charger for the battery.
It comes with its original handbooks, a workshop manual, two sets of keys, reams of history and an MOT until November 2020.