Billie – 1995 TVR Griffith 500 HC
Billie takes the cake for being the maddest puppy in our fleet. Sporting a 5.0L V8 with 340 HP coupled to a 5-speed Tremec gearbox, in a car weighing less than a modern day Ford Fiesta, you can imagine why…
For the gamers reading this you will remember that The Griffith was featured in Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2 on playstation.
We started looking for a TVR following discussions we had with our members. It is a perfect fit for our Club since owning a TVR can be frustrating owing to its fragile nature. The cars are hugely exciting though and as we found Billie we bought it from the President of the TVR Club in Luxembourg.
The TVR Griffith is a sports car designed and built by TVR starting in 1991 and ending in 2002. Although the Griffith was almost mechanically identical to its sister car, the Chimaera, it had a different body design and was produced in much smaller numbers. Even now, over 26 years since its first appearance at the 1990 Motor Show in Birmingham, the Griffith can make jaws drop just by driving by. This is part of the Griffith “package”. It looks fast. The body oozes speed and acceleration – but even its fabulous looks do not prepare a driver or passenger for just how quickly this car will accelerate.
Like its forerunner namesakes, the Griffith 200 and Griffith 400, the “modern” Griffith is a lightweight (1048 kg) fiberglass-bodied, 2-door, 2-seat sports car with a V8 engine. Originally, it used a 4.0 L 240 hp Rover V8 engine, but that could be optionally increased to 4.3 L 280 hp in 1992 with a further option of big-valve cylinder heads.
The Griffith 500 was announced in August 1993 with a 5 litre 340 hp version of the Rover V8 engine. It took the big valve concept, increased the capacity and compression ratio and tweaked the engine even further – so that about the only thing left untouched from the original Rover engine was the sump plug. The brakes were upgraded. The chassis and suspension were improved and, in general, this car is the pinnacle of the Griffith series.
If people thought that the earlier 4.x Griffith was fast, after driving a 500 even those cars seemed as slow as a diesel. The 0-100 km/h time dropped to 4.2 seconds and TVR even started to quote a 0-100 time of 10.2 seconds. This was and is real supercar performance. Most Ferraris and other exotica of the time would be struggling to keep up. Some journalists even complained that TVR had gone too far by adding more power – but others simply went around with an almost permanent grin from ear to ear.
In 1994, the Griffith 500, switched to the Borg Warner T5 gearbox which is a vast improvement on the old Rover SD1 version. Better ratios and smoother gear change meant that the car was a bit easier to drive and would accelerate faster as it was less prone to wheel spin. Note the word less: the car still has a 307 bhp/ton power-to-weight ration. With the Griffith 500 in particular, you don’t simply floor the accelerator, you have to feed it.