TVR Wedge

The original 1980 Tasmin was launched as a two seater coupé, the car featured a Ford V6 'Cologne' 160bhp powerplant with a long sloping hatchback and a long, low nose with a steeply raked windscreen (this being known as the series 1). A convertible model quickly followed as did a +2 fixed head coupé model (although all three were announced at the same time), featuring an additional two (rather small) seats in the back. The +2 also featured a shorter nose than the original Tasmin, new side skirts and a different spoiler arrangement at the front.

By 1982 Peter Wheeler had taken over the reigns of the factory from Martin Lilley, and shortly after, in an effort to generate more sales the cheaper (under £10,000 at the time) 2.0-litre four-cylinder Tasmin 200 was launched. This was not as popular as TVR would have hoped, and was phased out of production in 1984.

In an attempt to increase the performance of the V6 cars, TVR developed a turbocharged version of the Ford V6 (228bhp), the Tasmin Turbo, but these never really made it into production and only a few examples exist. 1983 however, saw a landmark decision by TVR to use the Rover V8 engine in it’s cars.

The 190bhp V8 engine used by Rover was ‘shoe horned’ into the Tasmin chassis, producing the Tasmin 350i (later on the ‘Tasmin’ name was dropped). Significant changes had to be made to the chassis to fit the Rover engine, but once put into production; the 350i became the best selling model in the TVR range. At around the same time, the Ford engined cars were also renamed 280i.

In autumn 1984, the 390SE was introduced (SE standing for Special Equipment). This car had an enhanced 275bhp V8 fitted ‘bored out’ to 3,905cc, and had improved performance over the 350i. The car also featured a much deeper front air-dam spoiler and a rear under-body down force aerofoil as well as other special options fitted. The 390 unfortunately were only produced in relatively small numbers and can sometimes be very hard to find on the used car market. When new, the car also cost approximately 30% more than the standard 350i model.

By 1985, subtle changes to the bodywork made the car more rounded (series 2). In 1986, TVR also revised the rear ‘trailing arm’ suspension setup to an improved ‘A’ frame system, which improved road handling.

In 1986, TVR launched the 300bhp 420SEAC, SEAC standing for: Special Equipment, Aramid, Composite. The car featured a body which was mostly made of a lightweight Kevlar composite honeycomb material (although some later SEACs were also produced with standard fibreglass GRP bodies due to some customer complaints regarding cracks and the ripply 'weave' finish of the paintwork). An easy way to check this is to press one of the door panels in with your finger, if it easily bends and distorts then it is probably made of the composite material.

The SEAC styling was a lot less ‘angular’ than the 390/350 and the SEAC became the most rounded looking wedge produced. Many were also fitted with a rather large boot spoiler that again may, or may not be to your particular taste. By 1988, the fettled 324bhp 450SEAC became the top of the TVR range. In this year the 280i series cars were also discontinued.

Another significant launch in 1988 was the 400SE. The 275bhp V8 400SE featured a ‘wraparound’ re-styled cockpit along with various other bodywork and styling improvements. In my humble opinion, the 400 series cars were the best looking and the better of all the Wedge cars.

In 1989 the 450SE version was launched and sported a monstrous 320bhp 4441cc alloy V8. Only a very small quantity of the 450 cars were produced, and are consequently much sought after by collectors and are therefore, very hard to find. The wedge series continued in production until 1991. The world was a changing place back in the early 90's and the launch of the new curvaceous TVR Griffith at the Motorshow finally put the nail in the coffin of the Wedge car era.