I cannot tell you definitively if the British or the Italians actually invented the two-seater sports car, but both take credit. My money is on the Brits, at least for cars that the everyman (or woman) could afford, having built some of the most iconic sports cars ever including the MGB, Spitfire, TR6, Austin-Healey, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. By the beginning of the 1980s, however, the roadster ship had all but sunk, cars were bloated and underpowered and the British car manufacturing industry was collapsing. Still, there remained a handful of small niche manufacturers building sports cars for enthusiasts, and TVR was one of them. Find this rare TVR Tasmin 280i convertible – one of 472 1985s –
here on eBay with a buy it now price of $10,950.
Just scrolling through the pictures of the Tasmin you can see that although there is harmony to the design, it was somewhat built from the parts bins from other manufacturers, including the taillights from a Lotus Esprit and the durable Ford Cologne 2.8 liter V6 motor that served dutifully in hundreds of thousands of cars for nearly twenty years in various forms.The Tasmin’s wedge styling was penned by Oliver Winterbottom, the same designer who penned the Lotus Elite S2 coupe, and one can see that there is a resemblance. Some argue that the Tasmin Coupe is a more harmonious design than the convertible. Maybe, but I can look past a lot for a drop top.
One of the things we look for in cars is the unique or unusual, and this car offers that in spades. TVR built a total of just over 1,100 Tasmins, coupes and convertibles, over the car’s 1980-1988 model run. What’s more, they were imported to the US in much smaller numbers and only through 1987. The seller reports that the car often attracts attention at car shows if for no other reason than its rarity. People will ask you about a car like this when you’re filling the petrol tank and you are sure to get a “thumbs-up” from each passing MG. This car has the added benefit of a fully documented history along with a lot of period TVR and associated paraphernalia. The recent service and chassis work are hopefully indicative of a car that truly has been as loved and cherished as the seller reports.
The Tasmin’s interior has more of that kit car look often associated with British sportscars from the 1980s – very boxy and not a whole lot of effort to make it all work together. Still, it is very functional with a tall console, short shifter, and a full complement of gauges. The added benefit of a quality CD player is nice, but wouldn’t you really rather listen to the motor?
Enthusiasts of European roadsters from the mid-1980s don’t have a lot to choose from: the Porsche 911, Alfa and Fiat (Pininfarina) Spiders, and then truly exotic (and therefore expensive) hardware from the likes of Ferrari and friends. This car represents a unique period in the history of automotive design and the British car industry. On top of that they handle like proper British sportscars (think: go-kart) with better performance than you might expect. To the point, the Cologne V6 delivered 160hp which in the Tasmin’s one ton body means 60mph can be achieved in a sprightly 8 seconds with terminal velocity in the 130mph range – certainly enough to hold the tight and low chassis to task and potentially get you in a whole heap of trouble.